OrderPaperToday- A digital rights group, Paradigm Initiative, has raised objection to the Nigerian Senate’s Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill which passed first reading in plenary on Tuesday, saying it will suppress rights to freedom of expression.

 

The proposed legislation, according to its sponsor, Senator Sani Musa, is to give guidelines on how to tolerate the usage the social media.

 

Reacting to the newly introduced bill, the digital rights group, in a press statement signed by its Programme Manager, Boye Adegoke, noted that the bill contains elements that may affect the right to free expression of internet users in Nigeria.

 

Adegoke said: “We have sufficient cause to believe that this Bill contains elements that may affect the right to free expression of internet users in Nigeria and we intend to follow up on it as it goes through the legislative process and is officially gazetted.

 

“While we are not yet privy to the exact content of this Bill, we are aware that an Act with the same short title exists in Singapore, which seeks to prevent the electronic communication of false statements and to enable measures to be taken by the government with regard to that.”

 

He continued: “As always, it is our mandate as an organisation to remain aware of relevant developments in digital laws and policies and to advocate for the protection of human rights in the process. We are especially watchful in this period when Nigeria has positioned itself as a country supporting the development of the digital economy with the president’s recent renaming of the Ministry of Communications.

 

“Just a few days ago, Nigeria initiated a process towards ensuring a better digital economy and it must not reprobate on this by considering laws that restrict and repress freedom in the digital space.”

 

Adegoke stressed that for Nigeria to achieve the objective of building a strong digital economy, “the digital space must remain open and emphasis should be placed on positively affirming and protecting the rights of internet users as opposed to restricting speech and expression”.

 

The group also urged the Senate and the National Assembly “not to pursue such repressive legislation that will serve no good to Nigeria and Nigerians.”

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