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FG Issues Code Of Practice, Conditions To Regulate Online Platforms

Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar.
Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs. Hadiza Umar.
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June 13, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government, through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has issued a Code of Practice and conditions for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries Platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and Tik Tok to operate in the country.

NITDA said the conditions address issues around legal registration of operations, taxation and managing prohibited publications, in line with Nigerian laws.

The Agency referred to section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007, which empowered it to standardise, coordinate and develop regulatory frameworks for all Information Technology (IT) practices in Nigeria.

In a statement, signed by its spokesperson, Hadiza Umar, on Monday, the agency noted that the Code of Practice will safeguard the security and welfare of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, while interacting in the digital space and demand accountability from Online Platforms regarding unlawful and harmful contents on their sites.

Some of the listed conditions are: registering with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); Appointing a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian local authorities and abiding by all regulatory demands after establishing a legal presence.

Others are: Complying with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law;

Providing a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited content and unethical behaviour on their platform; and

Providing 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 statement read in parts: “In accordance with its mandates, President Muhammadu Buhari 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 the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as define guidelines for interacting in 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 Organisations and expert groups. The results of these 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 content 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 publications in line with Nigerian laws.

“The Draft Code of Practice is available on the NITDA website via https://nitda.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Code-of-Practice.pdf for review and comments from the public. The Federal Government wishes to reiterate its commitment towards ensuring Nigeria fully harnesses the potentials of the Digital Economy and safeguards the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem.”