Following the lifting of Twitter ban, the Nigerian government earlier in the week, announced what it called, “codes of practice” to regulate social media platforms through Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
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According to NITDA, the draft was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), with input from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and TikTok.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) revealed that it had developed a draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries—defined by the code as “electronic medium or site where services are provided by means of a computer resource and on-demand and where users create, upload, share, disseminate, modify, or access information, including websites that provide reviews, gaming Platform, online sites for conducting commercial transactions.”
In the statement signed by NITDA Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relationships, Hadiza Umar, the Code is supposedly aimed at “protecting the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as defining guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem”.
NITDA instructs that all Interactive Computer Service Platforms with more than 100,000 users would be required to fulfil certain conditions in order to operate in the country. While this includes US-based social media platforms, it also includes indigenous sites like Nairaland, blogs like Linda Ikeji, and newsletter platforms like Substack with over 100,000 users.
These platforms would have to register as legal entities with the country’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), pay taxes, appoint country representatives, and more notably, “provide information to the Nigerian government on harmful accounts, troll groups, and deleting all information that violates Nigerian law”.
The draft Code is divided into 5 parts with the first 2 parts laying down the responsibilities of the Interactive Computer Service Platforms, while Part IV—titled “Prohibitions”—lays down orders for the removal of material prohibited by Nigerian law. According to the draft, “Prohibited Material” includes anything that threatens public interest, order, security, peace and morality—content which must be taken down within 24 hours.
In Part I of the draft Code, NITDA lays down 11 primary responsibilities which include abiding by Nigerian laws, providing dedicated channels for government agencies to lodge complaints, removing any content reported by government agencies within 24 hours, disclosing identities of reported creators to the Nigerian government, and expeditiously removing non-consensual sexual content.
Part II of the draft Code consigns 12 additional responsibilities including the requirement for Interactive Computer Service Platforms to file annual compliance reports that detail the numbers of [active] registered Nigerian users, deactivated accounts, and removed content, among other things. This part lists the responsibilities of the platforms to inform the users of their obligations which include abiding by all Nigerian laws.