A coalition of partners and stakeholders under Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, has urged members of the National Assembly to work on the speedy passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, and hold a public hearing to the effect.
Rising from an interractive meeting in Abuja yesterday, the stakeholders are of the opinion that passing the Bill into law, will guarantee protection for the rights and data of Nigerians in the cyberspace.
According to the Programme Manager for the Initiative’s ICT Policy, Adeboye Adegoke, passing the bill into an Act will transfer the offline rights of Nigerians, such as freedom of expression and association, into the digital space, and protect them against harassment and biometric data mining.
“As its core objectives, the Bill seeks to guarantee that the rights that apply offline also apply in the digital space to promote freedom of expression online, freedom of assembly and association online, guarantee the fundamental right to privacy of citizens, define the legal framework surveillance and seek protection of the data of every Nigerian citizen.”
“This Bill will not only assist in the legal framework for every Nigerians’ digital future plans; it will also be a tool for education of the masses, law enforcement officers/agencies and as well as the judiciary. A free digital environment in Nigeria will ensure active participation of citizens towards socio-economic development”, he said, informing that the Bill being sponsored by Honourable Chukwuemeka Ujam, had passed second reading at the lower chamber.
Adegoke added that the need for such a bill of rights has become increasingly imperative considering the current global debate on Internet Governance and Internet polices in light of actions by state and non-state parties that threaten the Rights and freedom of internet users in Nigeria.
“A case in point is the incessant arrests of bloggers in Nigeria and lack of regulatory frameworks guarding the untamed biometric data mining in Nigeria. As at the last count, not less than seven bloggers have either been arrested or detained in the last one year on the instruction of a political office holder or some powerful individuals. Also, at least eight government agencies have collected citizens’ data in Nigeria without a data protection law or exclusive policy in place.” he said.
Program Assistant (ICT Policy), Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Tomiwa Ilori also stated that “the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill seeks to protect Internet users in Nigeria from unauthorized infringement on their fundamental freedoms and to guarantee enjoyment of human rights for users of digital platform and media while safeguarding their proprietary rights.
She noted that the Bill is the most comprehensive Bill till date that factors into consideration major developments in technological policies and also includes affirmative and definitive measures that puts the fundamental freedoms and economic interests of every Nigerian first.
The provisions of the Bill covers issues such as right to Digital Privacy Online and other innovative provisions like Data and Information Privacy and Data stored in the Cloud. Other major sections of the Bill focuses on e-Governance and Digital Economy while the Bill further reiterate Fundamental freedoms we enjoy offline to Online.