NITDA’s “Code of Practice for Online Platforms” and National Security

In a bid to ensure that sanity is maintained in Nigeria’s internet circuit, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) recently unveiled a code of practice for online platforms.

The move aims to regulate the mode of operation of online platforms to thwart the eruption of any kind of crisis in the country’s ICT sector.

With increasing technological advancements and the internet, the media has transformed the world into a village where news and information can be transmitted to a large heterogeneous society in a short time.

Over the years, online social media platforms in Nigeria have been used as an ideal medium to spread dangerous information that could compromise national security, which threatened the country’s existence as a business entity.

Promoting this ugly trend among the citizens is the lack of proper mechanism or legal framework by the government or any other institution to oversee and regulate the conduct and affairs of these international tech giants.

However, with NITDA’s new Code of Practice, it’s fair to say that the situation is about to change for a better narrative.

It is disturbing to learn that our public space is continually polluted on a daily basis by unhealthy content capable of heating up the body politic. These include, but are not limited to, hate speech, fake news, misinformation and disinformation and a host of others.

Agitators and other ethno-religious fanatics have used social media for their vicious campaigns capable of inciting genocidal violence in Nigeria.

Also, various tactics and strategies on how to commit robbery, yahoo – yahoo, kidnapping, cult, etc. are presented in the form of comedies on our media platforms, all in the name of entertainment while ignoring the negative effects that this could constitute. on the mind and cognitive processes of many people, especially younger people who might consider this to be normal actions.

Therefore, this code of practice instituted by NITDA has set out “procedures to safeguard the safety and well-being of Nigerians while interacting on these platforms. It aims to hold online platforms accountable for illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Furthermore, it establishes a strong framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians from harm online, such as hate speech, cyber-harassment, as well as disinformation and/or misinformation.

This intervention by NITDA comes at a good time, especially in the run-up to the 2023 general election, when social media will be heavily used for election campaigns by politicians, as it will go a long way in restricting the appearance of content that can heat up the political system.

NITDA has undoubtedly done a tremendous job in coming up with this set of standard procedures, especially after due consultation with various industry stakeholders.

However, I would like to request NITDA to consider incorporating the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) as a stakeholder in this national watershed mission.

As the agency responsible for regulating the operation of the print media in Nigeria, its contributions and role can never be understated, especially in this era of digitalization where every print house has since established a platform on line.

It is also necessary that NITDA make every effort to ensure the outright implementation of procedures by these online platforms as outlined in this code of practice. In the same vein, legal frameworks should be used to sanction any relevant platform that does not respect these ethics as enshrined in the code of practice.

Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi wrote from Kano.

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