OrderPaperToday – The Senate has passed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, which will provide for the protection of human rights online, protect internet users from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and guarantee the application of human rights for digital platform users.

The bill seeks to guarantee human rights within the context of emerging innovative technologies, security concerns, increasing citizen participation in governance and democratic processes.

The bill is a potpourri of conventional rights aimed at making online spaces rights-inclusive and is an attempt at balancing the friction between security and human rights in the digital age.

The bill was sponsored by Chukwuemeka Ujam (PDP, Enugu), who described it as “laudable and brilliant.

“It is clear evidence of what can happen when government involves citizens in law-making and governance, and I am proud to sponsor it,” he remarked.

Presenting the bill for concurrence today, the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi) revealed that the bill has seven parts and the Senate retained all clauses.

The Digital Rights and Freedom bill has been lauded by many digital organisations as a step in the right direction and now awaits the President’s assent, after scaling through the last legislative hurdle, which was today’s third reading in the Senate.

Jimson Olufuye, the Chairman of Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance (AFICTA), said: “It simply means that rights available offline also apply online and irresponsible posts online could attract judicial challenge. Freedom carries equal measure of responsibility.”

Also speaking on the importance of the bill, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager, Boye Adegoke noted: “By the passage of this Bill, the legislative arm of government has shown a commitment to the development of digital rights in Nigeria.”

“I am most excited about the provisions in this Bill regarding freedom of expression online. The bill will ensure that citizens can freely express their opinions online without interference. This is such a positive development at a time when Nigeria is moving into an election season and there are legitimate fears that there may be moves by some political interests to gag free speech in the country. The positive leadership of the National Assembly on the issue is quite commendable.”

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Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank. Also, his writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.

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