" ITREALMS: Paradigm Initiative commends NASS for passing Digital Rights Bill

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paradigm Initiative commends NASS for passing Digital Rights Bill

Pan-African digital rights organization, Paradigm Initiative has commended the two legislative houses of the National Assembly (NASS) for passing the Digital Rights and Freedom bill, reports ITRealms.

The bill, ITRealms recalled was passed on Tuesday afternoon by the Senate following earlier passage at the House of Representatives last December, 2017.

The Bill, ITRealms gathered was 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.”

Speaking on the importance of the bill, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Programme Manager, Boye Adegoke said, “By the passage of this BIll, the legislative arm of government has shown a commitment to the development of digital rights in Nigeria.”

He expressed excitement about the provisions in this Bill regarding freedom of expression online.

“The bill will ensure that citizens can freely express their opinions online without interference. This is such a positive development at a time when Nigeria is moving into an election season and there are legitimate fears that there may be moves by some political interests to gag free speech in the country. 

The positive leadership of the National Assembly on the issue is quite commendable.” Adegoke said.

Also speaking, Director of Programme at Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe said “Nigeria has demonstrated remarkable leadership on the continent by passing this Bill. The Bill is quite important to the future of innovation and Nigeria’s digital economy in essence. It represents the needed framework to attract the partnership of global brands in the digital economy.”

Worthy of note about this bill, ITRealms gathered, is the provision of progressive legislative backing to online speech in the country.

Paradigm Initiative further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill to transform it into a law, making it Nigeria’s first law on human rights online.

Clause 14 of the bill, for instance, 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”. Under this Bill, freedom of expression further includes the freedom to express and impart information and ideas of all kinds that can be transmitted to others, in whatever form, and regardless of media.”

Nenye Egbune/GEE

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