Media Rights Agenda has called on the Federal Government to discontinue its attempt to adopt a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries”, accusing it of trying to regulate social media and other online platforms through the backdoor by circumventing the legislative process.
MRA described the draft Code of Practice developed by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, and published for public comments as a clumsy attempt to usurp the powers, functions and authority of the National Assembly as well as a breach of the constitutional rights of Nigerians.
NITDA’s Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relationship, Mrs Hadiza Umar, said this in a press statement.
Recall that NITDA issued the Code of Practice which it is presenting for public input, on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari in accordance with its mandate under the NITDA Act, to standardize, coordinate and develop regulatory frameworks for all information technology practices in Nigeria.
Condemning the plan, Mr Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director said: “The Federal Government is clearly attempting to circumvent the legislative process in favour of a backdoor approach to regulate social media and other internet platforms. It is curious that the Government has chosen to use an administrative document to surreptitiously create criminal offences as the document states unequivocally that any platform or internet intermediary responsible for violating its provisions will be liable to prosecution and conviction.”
He argued that NITDA’s misuse of the term “Code of Practice” to describe the document amounts to acting under false pretenses to dupe Nigerians into believing that the Government is seeking to protect them when its real intention is so obviously to control social media and other Internet platforms by compelling them to register with the Government and thereby muzzle the right to freedom of expression online.