Section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007 mandates the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to standardize, coordinate, and implement regulatory frameworks for all Information Technology (IT) practices in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, authorized the Agency to draft a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries (Online Platforms) in conjunction with relevant Regulatory Agencies and Stakeholders, in compliance with its mandates.
In accordance with the directive, NITDA intends to make available to the public a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries for further study and comment. The Code of Practice aims to defend the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country while also defining principles for participating in the digital environment. This is consistent with worldwide best practices available in democratic countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the 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, Tik Tok amongst others. Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations 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 conditions are as follows:
i. Establish a legal entity i.e., register with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC);
ii. Appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities;
iii. Abide by all regulatory demands after establishing a legal presence;
iv. Comply with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law;
v. Provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited contents and unethical behaviour on their platform; and
vi. 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.
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 to ensuring Nigeria fully harnesses the potential of the Digital Economy and safeguards the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem.