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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

National Assembly passes Digital Rights & Freedom Bill

The Nigerian Senate has finally passed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, following in the footsteps of the Nigerian House of Representatives which passed the Bill on December 19, 2018, reports ITRealms.

The bill, ITRealms gathered was passed at about 1:09 pm Tuesday, and is a product of civil society efforts led by Paradigm Initiative beginning at the 2014 Internet Freedom Forum in Abuja, “provides for the protection of human rights online, to protect Internet users in Nigeria from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and to guarantee application of human rights for users of digital platforms and/or digital media.”

ITRealms also gathered that in 2016, Hon Chukwuemeka Ujam sponsored the Bill at the House of Representatives where it underwent rigorous legislative process before eventual passage last December.

The Bill was first tabled before the Senate for concurrence on January 16 2018, and was finally passed Tuesday, March 13, 2018. 

Notable of the Digital Rights bill, ITRealms reports provides progressive legislative backing to online speech in the country.

For instance, ITRealms reports that Clause 14 of the bill reads, “Every person shall have the right to freely express opinion online without interference, this right includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of digital frontiers”.

In addition, ITRealms gathered that under this Bill, freedom of expression further includes the freedom to express and impart information and ideas of all kinds that could be transmitted to others, in whatever form, and regardless of media.

Further, the Bill also made provisions towards the protection of data and right to privacy online as contained in Section 5 of the Bill, which reads in part “(1) Every person is guaranteed the confidentiality of his personal data.

“(2) The integrity and confidentiality of personal data and information of citizens is inviolable and therefore guaranteed... (6) All entities that collect, store and/or process personal data in the course of their activities shall have data privacy policies that are readily and easily accessible to the public.”

The Bill will now be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari for the presidential assent to transform the bill to a law, making it Nigeria’s first law on human rights online.

Chuks Egbune and Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Pix: Senate President, Bukola Saraki

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