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Nigeria: digital rights group, NCC square off again

Nigeria: digital rights group, NCC square off again

Ongoing public consultations on a draft internet industry code of practice for Nigeria have come under some criticism from those participating in the process. The Nigeria Communications Commissions (NCC) has been accused by a local digital rights group in the country of carrying out the meetings with the general public and other interested parties without real interest in the content of their submissions.

Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager for ICT Policy at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) says the search for input from stakeholders in the internet community could be more meaningful.

"The NCC has not done badly with respect to making its draft regulation available for the public and it regularly calls for stakeholders input. Where it has erred however is how it sometimes jettison inputs without feedback to those who made the inputs as to why those inputs were not captioned. One wonders if the calls for stakeholder inputs were genuine or it's just about 'fulfilling all righteousness'. The NCC must consider this as an important feedback."

Adegoke adds that the draft Internet Code of practice appears to be a great initiative and one that promotes the open and free internet, although some parts of it (including its stated objective of outlining "obligations of internet access service providers in the handling of offensive and potentially harmful content, and the protection of minors online") may be open to abuse by the government.

"The application of the first part of this objective is definitely one to look out for as it is prone to manipulations by the powers that be. Whether this will happen or not is a function of how independent the NCC is. Unfortunately the NCC is rarely independent of the government of the day, neither is there proofs that it queries memo from the office of the National Security Adviser but let's wait and see how these code will fare when and if it becomes operational."

While the NCC did not respond to requests for comment, it has since announced an extension of the public consultation period for three weeks until 9 February 2018.

The NCC says comments on the draft code which is still available for download on the NCC website must be submitted before the new deadline through its online portal https://ncc.gov.ng/internet-code-of-practice-consultation or in hard copy format at its offices in Abuja.

The regulator has previously named multinationals including Facebook, Microsoft and Oracle specifically as well as security agencies, industry associations and members of academia among those it wishes to see taking part in the public consultations which began early last year.

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