The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has announced that it has issued a ‘Code of Practice’ for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries including online platforms.
The agency stated this in a statement by its spokesperson, Hadiza Umar, on Monday.
“The new global reality is that the activities conducted on these Online Platforms wield enormous influence over our society, social interaction, and economic choices,” Mrs Umar wrote. “Hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of Online Platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy.”
The announcement could face criticism from Nigerians who have been sceptical of the Buhari administration since it declared its intention to regulate the media, particularly online media, many of which have helped hold the government accountable.
Recall that the information minister, Lai Mohammed, told the National Assembly to amend the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) law to enable the agency to regulate online media.
NBC currently regulates broadcast media and has been criticised for imposing controversial fines on broadcast stations.
As part of its new code, NITDA says online platforms must “Provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited contents and unethical behaviour on their platform.”
Read the full NITDA statement below.
Finally, NITDA Issues Code of Practice for Online Platforms Operating in Nigeria
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Issues a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries and Conditions for Operating in Nigeria
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is mandated by section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007, to standardize, coordinate and develop regulatory frameworks for all Information Technology (IT) practices in Nigeria.
In accordance with its mandates, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, directed the Agency to develop a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries (Online Platforms), in collaboration with relevant Regulatory Agencies and Stakeholders.
In line with the directive, NITDA wishes to present to the Public a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries for further review and input.
The Code of Practice is aimed at protecting fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country as well as define guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem. This is in line with international best practices as obtainable in democratic nations such as the United State of America, United Kingdom, European Union, and United Nations.
The Code of Practice was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as input from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and Tik Tok amongst others.
Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations and expert groups. The results of this consultations were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.
The new global reality is that the activities conducted on these Online Platforms wield enormous influence over our society, social interaction, and economic choices. Hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of Online Platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy.
Additionally, the Code of Practice sets out procedures to safeguard the security and welfare of Nigerians while interacting on these Platforms. It aims to demand accountability from Online Platforms regarding unlawful and harmful contents on their Platforms. Furthermore, it establishes a robust framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians against online harms, such as hate speech, cyber-bullying, as well as disinformation and/or misinformation.
Similarly, to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice, NITDA also wishes to notify all Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries operating in Nigeria that the Federal Government of Nigeria has set out conditions for operating in the country. These conditions address issues around legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws. The conditions are as follows:
Establish a legal entity i.e., register with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC);
Appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities;
Abide by all regulatory demands after establishing a legal presence;
Comply with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law;
Provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited contents and unethical behaviour on their platform; and
Provide information to authorities on harmful accounts, suspected botnets, troll groups, and other coordinated disinformation networks and deleting any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed time.
The Draft Code of Practice is available on the NITDA website for review and comments from the public.
The Federal Government wishes to reiterate its commitment towards ensuring Nigeria fully harness the potentials of the Digital Economy and safeguard the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem.
Mrs Hadiza Umar, mnipr; m.apra; mcipr
Head Corporate Affairs and External Relationship
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)