The federal government issued new directives and conditions for online platforms operating in Nigeria.
These directives are embedded in the new code of practice issued by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
NITDA is an agency of the government saddled with the responsibility of developing and regulating Information Technology in Nigeria,
The new regulatory framework is titled: “CODE OF PRACTICE FOR INTERACTIVE COMPUTER SERVICE PLATFORMS/ INTERNET INTERMEDIARIES”
- It defined Interactive Computer Service Platform as any electronic medium or site where services are provided by means of a computer resource and on-demand and where users create, upload, share, disseminate, modify, or access information, including websites that provide reviews, gaming Platform, online sites for conducting commercial transactions.
- It also defined “Internet Intermediary” as social media operators, websites, blogs, media sharing websites, online discussion forums, streaming Platform, and other similar oriented intermediaries where services are either enabled or provided and transactions are conducted and where users can create, read, engage, upload, share, disseminate, modify, or access information.
10 things to know about the newly issued Code of practice
Some of the most important regulations in the Code of Practice include, but are not limited to the following:
- There cannot be any demand for information from a platform or an intermediary without a valid court order requiring for such and the court order has to specify the kind of information needed.
- All unlawful or harmful content should be taken down within 24hrs of demand.
- Each platform should exercise due diligence to ensure that no harmful content is uploaded on their site.
- Provide a channel for lodging complaints and each complaint should be with a unique tracking number and how such complaint has been resolved with sufficient information.
- Provide clear terms of service in simple language that can be understood and how it’s services can be accessed and used.
- File annual compliance report on the activities of the platform for the year; number of users (active and non active); complaints received (how many have been resolved and how many are pending; contents taken down, etc.
- Preserve information on contents taken down and number of users that are no longer registered with the platform for some time.
- Large platforms must be registered in Nigeria, and have a physical office and a liaison officer.
- Every platform must invest in creating awareness on misinformation and disinformation and how credible contents can be verified.
- Every platform must abide by Nigerian laws and not deploy or modify their Platform in any way that will undermine or interfere with the application and/or enforcement of the law.
What more to know
The Code of practice stipulates that Non-compliance with the provision of the regulation shall be construed as a breach of the provisions of the NITDA Act of 2007.
The NITDA Act 2007 clause 17 states that “any person or corporate body who contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of the Act commits an offence.”
It further provides for offences relating to corporate bodies in clause 18.
(1) “Except as otherwise provided in this Act, anybody corporate of person who commits an offence under this Act where no specific penalty is provided, is liable on conviction:
- (a) For a first offence, to a fine of N 200,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of 1 year or to both such fine and imprisonment; and
- (b) For a second and subsequent offence, to a fine of N 500,000.00 o r to imprisonment for a term of 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) “The institution of proceedings or imposition of a penalty under this Act shall not relieve a body corporate from liability to pay to the Federal Inland Revenue Service such levy or tax which may become due under this Act.”
The Code of practice also stipulates that “Any Platform and/or internet intermediary that is responsible for the violation of this Regulation may be liable to disciplinary measures under civil service rules, prosecution and conviction for violation of NITDA Act 2007.”