Going by its mandate as enshrined in Section 6 of the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act 2007, which enables it to standardise, coordinate and develop regulatory frameworks for information technology (IT) practices in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has 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.
Adhering to the directive, NITDA has presented the document to the public for more reviews and input.
The Code of Practice, according to a statement, yesterday, is aimed at protecting the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as defining guidelines for interacting in the digital ecosystem.
This is in line with international best practices as obtainable in democratic nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and United Nations.
The document was developed in collaboration with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in addition to inputs from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, Tik Tok, among others.
Other relevant stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and expert groups, were also consulted.
The results were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.
NITDA said the new global reality is that the activities conducted on these online platforms wield enormous influence over the society, social interaction and economic choices, “hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians 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 equally aims to demand accountability from online platforms regarding unlawful and harmful content.
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 regulation, NITDA notified all Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries operating in Nigeria that the Federal Government had set out conditions for their operations.
According to the agency, these conditions address issues around legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publications in line with Nigerian laws.
The conditions are: Establish a legal entity – that is registered with the 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 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 delete any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed time.