Social media bill will protect human dignity — Lawmaker…Says Block Access Orders Could Hamper Sprouting SMEs

By Emmanuel Elebeke

As expectations continue to heighten over the public hearing on “The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 (SB 132)” popularly referred to as the ‘Social Media Bill’, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has condemned the motive of the bill, and described it as an attempt to gag the social media space.

The centre condemned in totality, the content of the bill,  which it said could be a disincentive to the business community.

It described the Senate’s move as an attempt to ensure that there is an amalgamation of power into the hands of a few individuals who would not only gag the media space but will as well ensure that only information they deem fit be made public.

The CDD warns that in a democratic system which we operate in Nigeria, the government must not only police itself but also allow the people who have elected them into power the obligation to do same.

The ambiguous bill which targets the disabling of access by end users is expected to block access orders and interfere with business operations of sprouting SMEs in Nigeria.

Considering that Nigeria currently battling insecurity, CDD observed that access blocking orders could deter online intelligence gathering through both blocking internet access and possibly stimulating the development of an online information black market.

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The bill also provides for subjective judgment as to whether the transmission of false statements of fact is likely to incite feelings of enmity, hatred towards a person or ill-will between groups of persons.

‘‘While the centre appreciates the essence and use of social media among many Nigeria youths in educating, disseminating knowledge, keeping the citizens informed and shaping public discourse in Nigeria, CDD can boldly say that the social media space has become a critical tool for shaping public discourse where many Nigerians seek to harness the positive impact of social media.

‘‘CDD urges the Senate to understand that social media is here to stay especially with over 29.3 million users across Nigeria,’’ it posited.

Rejecting the bill in its entirety, the CDD therefore recommend that rather than stifle the rights of the Nigerian citizens, the Senate should retrace its steps and closely study its recommendations for possible adoption.

Vanguard

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