The Federal Government on Monday pledged its preparedness to work with Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) in the fight against disinformation, fake news, hate speech and the development of its information technology hub.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the pledge when the Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Jyrki Pulkkinen and Ambassador of Innovation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland, Mr Tarmi Sarena paid him a visit.

FOC is a group of 31 countries with three Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Tunisia, that work together to advance internet freedom, mainly through shaping global norms.

The Coalition, launched at a conference of the Dutch Government in The Hague Netherlands inDecember 2011, works  through joint statements, multistakeholder engagement and diplomatic initiative and interventions.

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Mohammed assured Pulkkinen and Sarena who had come to convince him on the need for Nigeria to become a member of the coalition that it would be to the benefit of the country.
“When I look at the objectives of the Freedom Online Coalition, you have come to preach to the convinced.
“The platform is about innovation, Information and creative industry.
“It is a coalition of countries with like minds whose objective is human rights, privacy security and trust.
“When it comes to innovation, Nigeria is the Africa hub because we have a pool of young, talented and ambitious young people in the country,” he said.
The minister noted that the respect for human rights is a cardinal principle in the day to day activities of the government.
He however said that the government decided to sanitise the social media space because of abuse by people using the technology to cause disaffection.
He reassured that in sanitising the social media space and fighting fake news and hate speech, the government will not gag the press.
The minister added that the creative industry is the fastest growing sector and the second largest employer of labor after agriculture in Nigeria.
He therefore called on member countries of the FOC to take the advantage of the huge potentials in the sector to invest in the country.
Earlier, the Finnish Ambassador said  Iberia has a vibrant and innovative Information technology ecosystem and joining the FOC would be of advantage to the country.
He said the coalition ensured that safety, security and privacy  of huge data collated from member countries.
He said meaningful contents are also made available to advance investment opportunities, sustainable development goals and addressing climate change.
On his part, Sarena said Finland would be occupying the chairmanship of the coalition by 2021 and he would welcome Nigeria’s participation and membership.


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