The Nigerian government has revealed plans to regulate big tech platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google and TikTok through a draft document shared by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
According to the document signed off by director general of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the social media companies will be required to set up local entities in the country through a company incorporated in Nigeria, with a liaison to serve as a communication channel between the government and platform.
In addition, the social media platforms will be required to abide by the Nigerian law and avoid disseminating any information that could undermine law enforcement. The platforms will also be required to act expeditiously to priovide information, identities or take down content when instructed by a government agency or a court order.
NITDA also proposes to have a hand in the verification of government-related accounts, and the
“The Platforms will be required to make provision for verifying official government accounts and authorised government agencies subject to approval by NITDA. The account shall only be used for official purposes and NITDA reserves the right to withdraw approval by notifying the Platform in writing, stating the grounds for such action.” the document says.
The document further urges the social media platforms to explicitly publish rules of access and usage by individuals and entities. The rules should be presented in a simple language and should be easily accessible.
NITDA also highlights the importance of content moderation, coming in hard on any content that promotes violence, sexual assault, political division and hatred. The agency also proposes that the platforms further file an annual compliance report indicating the number of active users in Nigeria, deactivated accounts, content that was reported and taken down, information on the protection of users and children and so forth.
Last year, Nigeria suspended Twitter for more than six months after the platform deleted a post by the country’s President Buhari. As a result, the government said it would sit down with a panel from Twitter to come up with a set of conditions to allow them operate in the country.
NITDA says the code of practice has been developed in collaboration with stakeholders including the expert organizations and civil society groups.
“The new global reality is that the activities conducted on these online platforms wield enormous influence over our society, social interaction and economic choices. Hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation,” Hadiza Umar, the agency’s head of corporate affairs, said in the press statement.