Technocrat Media, Abuja
The federal government has issued a new code of practice for all online platforms operating in Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Monday, Hadiza Umar, head of corporate affairs and external relations, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said the code of practice is intended to guide the operations of interactive computer service platforms/internet intermediaries.
According to NITDA, the code was developed with input received from online platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Google, among others.
The Agency said the code of practice will hold online platforms accountable for unlawful and harmful information on their platforms.
The development is a renewed move by the federal government to regulate online platforms. Nigeria youth, civil society organisations (CSO) and stakeholders are concerned that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is looking for all means to clamp down on free speech and internet freedom.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information has consistently maintained that social media and online platforms should be regulated to protect Nigeria’s corporate existence.
In 2021, the federal government banned the operations of Twitter — a microblogging site over the deletion of a tweet the platform considered was against its policy.
Procedures to operate in Nigeria
FG said internet platforms must register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), comply with appropriate taxation policies, and avoid prohibited content on their platforms.
“Abide by Nigerian laws and not deploy or modify their Platform in any way that will undermine or interfere with the application and/or enforcement of the law,” the document reads.
“Act expeditiously upon receiving a Court order directing a Platform to provide any information under its domain or any assistance to any authorised government agency for the purpose of carrying out an investigation, combating cybercrimes,
or prosecuting an offence.
“Act expeditiously upon receiving a notice from a user, or an authorised
government agency of the presence of unlawful content on its Platform. A platform must acknowledge the receipt of the complaint and take down the content within 24 hours.
“Act expeditiously to remove, disable, or block access to non-consensual content that exposes a person’s private areas, full or partial nudity, sexual act, deepfake, or revenge porn, where such content is targeted to harass, disrepute, or intimidate an individual. A Platform must acknowledge the receipt of the complaint and take down the content within 24 hours.”
According to NITDA, online platforms are also expected to “prioritise authentic information in search, feeds, or other distribution channels; trace, expose, penalise, and close accounts and sources that amplify disinformation and misinformation”.
The agency said the code of practice “shall come into effect on the date issued by NITDA”.