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Digital rights group bemoans Nigeria's internet regulation

Digital rights group bemoans Nigeria's internet regulation

Nigeria has initiated an online public consultation with a list of key stakeholders to help it establish an industry Code of Practice in support of net neutrality and an open internet. However, the exclusion of digital rights group Paradigm Initiative Nigeria has not gone unnoticed by its executive director.

The Nigerian Communications Commission's (NCC) proposed Code of Practice is expected to establish best practices for internet governance in line with emerging issues and global trends, and promote the safe and responsible use of internet services.

It will seek to provide solutions to address issues of discriminatory traffic management practices, as well as protect the rights and interests of both consumers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

"This is a welcome development by NCC, considering how much time has been given and the attempt to make this truly multi-stakeholder," says Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.

However, Sesan is concerned that groups like his are not included in the list of stakeholders.

"I am surprised that civil society isn't listed considering that the NCC is trying to model the United Nations Internet Governance Forum multi-stakeholder model that allows equal participation of civil society, government, business, academia, technical community, media, etc. Paradigm Initiative will work on submitting our input to the NCC on this, and we look forward to robust discussions around open - and free internet in Nigeria. We hope, though, that the idea of 'code of practice' isn't a backdoor opportunity to talk about regulations without using the exact word, regulation."

The NCC will use input from stakeholders including ISPs, relevant associations, government ministries and security agencies, as well as interested multinationals. Input submitted via the online platform by 23 June will be considered in the drafting of the code of practice, after which a final draft will be made available for review.

However, consultation with stakeholders is only one of several steps that must be taken before the final publication.

Authorities will still need to review existing internet industry codes of practice across selected jurisdictions - Australia, Brunei, The Caribbean, Malaysia, Malta, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

They will also need to review existing legislation including the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, Guidelines for the Provision of Internet Service (published by the NCC), Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007, the Cybercrime Act 2015 the National Cybersecurity Policy 2014 and the Nigeria Child Online Protection Policy 2014.

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