NITDA publishes code of practice for internet intermediaries (ISP, OTT, social media); Calls for review and contributions –

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has so far released a Code of Practice for Interactive/Internet Intermediate Computing Services Platforms for further review and comment.

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

According to a statement signed by Ms. Hadiza Umar, Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, the code of practice was developed in in accordance with NITDA’s mandates and subsequently President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to NITDA to develop a code of practice for Internet Intermediate/Interactive Computer Services Platforms (Online Platforms), in collaboration with regulatory agencies and relevant stakeholders.

“In accordance with the directive, NITDA wishes to present a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Services/Internet Intermediate Platforms to the public for further review and comment.

“The Code of Practice seeks to protect the basic human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country as well as set out guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem.

“This is in line with international best practice as can be achieved in democratic countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Nations.”

She said the code of practice was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), along with inputs from interactive IT service platforms such as Twitter, Facebook , WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and Tik. Tok among others.

Other relevant stakeholders with particular knowledge in this area were consulted, such as civil society organizations and expert groups.

“The results of the consultations have been duly incorporated into the draft code of practice.

“The new global reality is that the activities carried out on these online platforms have a huge influence on our society, our social interactions and our economic choices.

“Therefore, the code of practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians to maximize mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy,” Umar said.

Additionally, the code of practice sets out procedures to protect the safety and well-being of Nigerians while interacting on these platforms.

“It aims to hold online platforms accountable for illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Furthermore, it establishes a strong framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians from harm online, such as hate speech, cyber-harassment, as well as disinformation and/or misinformation..

“Similarly, to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice, NITDA also wishes to inform all Interactive Computer Services Platforms/Internet Intermediaries operating in Nigeria that the Federal Government of Nigeria has set the conditions for operating in the country” , she added.

These Terms deal with matters relating to legal registration of transactions, taxation and the management of prohibited publications under Nigerian laws. The conditions are as follows:

  1. Establish a legal entity, i.e. register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC);
  2. Appoint a designated national representative to interface with the Nigerian authorities;
  3. Comply with all regulatory requirements after establishing a legal presence;
  4. Comply with all tax obligations applicable to its operations under Nigerian law;
  5. Provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid the publication of prohibited content and unethical behavior on their platform; and
  6. Provide information to authorities about harmful accounts, suspected botnets, troll groups and other coordinated disinformation networks and remove any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed timeframe.

The draft code of practice is available on the NITDA website for public review and comment.

“The Federal Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to ensuring that Nigeria fully harnesses the potential of the digital economy and safeguards the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem,” Umar added.

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