A bill to protect social media users against hate speech was passed through second reading Wednesday by the House of Representatives.
The bill with the title: A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Protection of Human Rights Online, was sponsored by a member, Hon. Chukwuemeka Ujam (PDP-Enugu),
The piece of legislation, also known as the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, seeks to guard and guide Nigerian internet users on their rights and to protect the rights from infringement.
The bill was unanimously passed when the Speaker Yakubu Dogara xpcalled for a voice vote and was referred to the Committees on Telecommunications and Human Rights.
The proposed bill, in Section 20(3), provides against hate speech online. While Section 12 of the Bill outlines the process to be followed before access is granted to governmental agencies and others to the personal data of citizens.
Part of the provisions of the bill is the provision for the protection of citizen’s rights to the Internet and it’s free use without undue monitoring.
Ujam while speaking on the bill at plenary said the proposed legislation is targeted at ensuring openness, Internet access, affordability and freedom of information online.
According to him, despite being a subscriber to international charters which recognise freedom and access to the Internet as a human right, such as the African Union Convention on Cyber-Security and Personal Data Protection of 2014, Nigeria lacked a legal framework for the protection of internet users,
He said: “For the first time in the history of Nigeria and by extension, Africa, offences relating to the ownership of personal data, hate speech online is addressed through the instrumentally of this piece of legislation called the Digital Rights Bill”.
Aminu Shagari (APC-Sokoto) and Mohammed Sani Zoro (APC-Jigawa) while supporting the bill opined that unlike an earlier attempt to regulate the internet by the Senate, the Digital Rights Bill is designed for the protection of persons online.
Sani Zoro especially harped on the need for creating awareness on the details of bill to prevent the public from mistaking it as legislation that will restrict the freedom of internet users in the country.