By Emmanuel Elebeke & Caleb Anyansina
The growing concerns and the global debate on internet governance and internet polices took the front burner at a stakeholders conference held in Abuja last week.
The conference, which is a Coalition of 14 different Civil Society Organisations, CSOs and experts, attended, were of the view that Nigerians and the relevant stakeholders in the Information, Communication and Technology, ICT, sector need to throw their weight behind the speedy passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill. Recall that the campaign for the Digital Rights and Freedom bill started in 2014.
It covers innovative ways in which issues such as right to digital privacy online, anonymity, and data stored in the cloud among others are managed.
In his address at the occasion, the Chief Operating Officer of the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria PIN, Tope Ogundipe, underscored the importance of the bill, saying that the passage of the bill is very imperative, in the light of growing concerns and the global debate on internet governance and internet polices in general.
Ogundipe said that the bill would “promote freedom of expression and association online, promote access to development through technology, encourage technology for innovation and wealth creation, safeguard the digital liberty of Nigerians now and in the future, support the participation and engagement of Nigerians in public life, contribute to democracy and advance Nigeria’s leadership in Africa on technology, ‘In a nutshell, it is to ensure the applicability of offline rights online,” she added.
Citing Kenya and South Africa among African countries that had achieved the free rating in 2012, Ogundipe noted that a free digital environment in Nigeria would not only ensure compliance with established rights and freedoms, but would also guarantee active participation of citizens towards socio- economic development.
She disclosed that everything had been done to ensure that “the bill is legally and technically sound.”
She stated that the coalition was now set to present the draft bill to the 8thparliament as soon as they resume, calling on the general public to support the bill for smooth and speedy passage.
Her words: “The first press conference on the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill held in November, 2014. Since then, there has been a great deal of work done by the NetRightsNG coalition with extensive consultations and review with technical and legal experts both locally and internationally, in order to produce the first ever Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria”.