A Timely ‘Code of Practice for Online Platforms in Nigeria, by Mahmud Abdulsalam
The National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, is one government organisation so-much concerned and sincerely worried over rising insecurity, in the country.
It has, and is still doing everything possible to swiftly nip in the bud, emerging security threats, especially in the nation’s cyber cum digital ecosystem.
As the Director General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, has been in the forefront of unveiling sound administrative and regulatory policies, driving the growth and transformation of Nigeria’s tech sector, in particular.
One them is the ‘Code of Practice’ for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries and Conditions for Operating in Nigeria.
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, among others.
Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area, also, were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations and expert groups, in the process of the Code’s development.
Afterwards, the results of this consultations were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.
“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,” says the agency’s spokesperson, Hadiza Umar.
It is interesting to note that the Code of Practice is aimed at protecting fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country.
It will also help to define guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem, 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.
A global fact that is indisputable is that activities conducted on Online Platforms wield enormous influence over man’s society, social interaction, and economic choices.
Therefore, the Code of Practice launched by NITDA will assist in recalibrating the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians, in order to maximise mutual benefits for the nation, while also promoting a sustainable digital economy.
In addition, the NITDA Code of Practice has outlined vital procedures of safeguarding the security and welfare of Nigerians, while interacting on online platforms.
While targeting to demand accountability from online platforms regarding unlawful and harmful contents on their platforms, the NITDA Code of Practice, already has established 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.
To ensure compliance with the Code of Practice, it is heartwarming to learn that the Federal Government has set out conditions for online platforms operating in the country. And these conditions are ones that will be addressing issues around legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws.
The Draft Code of Practice, which 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, is one that will diammetrically sanitize the online/social media space in Nigeria, which appears to be toxic and contaminated at the moment.
Hence, its release at this defining moment of our nation’s history, hallmarked by venal insecurity, and other challenges of national development amid a silent technological revolution ongoing in the country’s digital ecosystem, championed by the Minister of Communication nad Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami is indeed very timely and APT.