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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has rolled out fresh measures to protect minors and under-aged on the Internet. To that end, an Internet industry code of practice has been drafted to guide Internet Service Providers on the protection of rights of Internet users in the country.

According to the regulator, the Internet provides enormous benefits to the Nigerian public as a source of information, education, research, commerce, communication and entertainment and as a key driver for innovation and technological advancement.

It added that it, however, realised that the Internet also includes content that some users might find objectionable and would not want themselves, their children, or even society at large, exposed to, which necessitated the code.

The code, which will soon become binding on all ISPs, stipulates: “An Internet Access Service Provider shall have measures in place for the immediate blocking of access to child sexual abuse content, once notified by the Commission.”

It added that the ISPs must include in their Terms and Conditions of Service a clear set of rules for the use of the Service that complies with the Cybercrime Act 2015, Child Online Protection Policy and all other applicable laws and regulations.

On parental control measures, NCC, in the code, states that Optional Parental Control Measures (PCMs), such as content filters, usage monitoring tools and usage control tools, must be offered either directly to customers or via the provision of information in a reasonably prominent position on the Internet Access Service Provider’s website regarding third party websites that provide a means for consumers to have access to or acquire parental control tools.

“Where an Internet Access Service Provider provides PCMs directly to customers, the Internet Access Service Provider shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the customer is advised, at the point of sale, methods by which the PCMs can be regularly updated and further, where information can be obtained regarding the continuing availability of the PCMs. Reasonable steps may include the provision of the information or a link to the information on/from the webpage from which the PCMs are offered to customers,” the code states.

Speaking on the code, President, Nigerian Internet Group, Mr Destiny Amana, noted that Internet fraud was one of the major problems plaguing the nation.

He advocated measures to be adopted for the protection of both the young and the old within the online environment. “There is a need for check and balances, which the commission is trying to put in place,” he said.

Programme Manager, Digital Earth Paradigm Initiative, Mr Adeboye Adegoke, called on the commission to emphasise the importance of judicial oversight.

He said: “The importance of judicial oversight is that it creates a system of checks and balances.”

Adegoke also called for the outright outlawing of pornography from the Internet, both from service and content providers perspectives, contending that pornography was injurious to both minors and adults.

Meanwhile, NCC said it would still consider inputs from industry stakeholders to arrive at a final document from the current draft code. NCC’s Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, explained that the propositions for either self-regulation or government regulation of the Internet both have advantages and disadvantages, hence, the drive for a co-regulatory practice by NCC as a regulator and the industry, as it relates to internet in Nigeria.

“The Internet Industry Code of Practice is envisioned as a co-regulatory effort between the Commission and the Industry Stakeholders, hence the need for extensive public consultation and incorporation of stakeholder feedback into the final document,” she said.

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