For Immediate Release:
Members of the press, welcome to this press briefing on the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill. The first press conference on the Digital Rights and Freedom bill held in November, 2014. Since then, there has been a great deal of work done by the NetRightsNG coalition with extensive consultations and review with technical and legal experts both locally and internationally, in order to produce the first ever Digital Rights and Freedom bill in Nigeria.
The need for this bill is very imperative, in the light of growing concerns and the global debate on Internet Governance, Internet of things and Internet polices in general The annual ‘Freedom on the Net,’ Freedom House’s newest index assessing the degree of internet and digital media freedom around the world has rated Nigeria consistently over the last couple of years as only ‘partially free.’ Meanwhile some African countries like Kenya and South Africa achieved the ‘Free’ rating in 2012. Freedom House is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.
These conversations are relevant now more than ever because a free digital environment in Nigeria not only ensures compliance with established rights and freedoms; it also guarantees active participation of citizens towards socio- economic development. This follows major trends among many developing and developed countries like Brazil which passed theirs in (2012) and the European Union which is working on one.
The Bill is the most comprehensive Bill till date that factoring in major developments in ICT policy and also inclusive of affirmative and definitive measures that put the fundamental rights and freedoms of digital platform users in Nigeria first. The provisions of the bill covers in innovate ways issues such as Right to Digital Privacy Online, Anonymity, and Data stored in the Cloud among others . There are major sections of the bill also focused on e-Governance and Digital Economy as well.
The aim of this bill is to promote freedom of expression and association online, promote access to development through technology, encourage technology for innovation and wealth creation, safeguard the digital liberty of Nigerians now and in the future, support the participation and engagement of Nigerians in public life, contribute to democracy and advance Nigeria’s leadership in Africa on technology. In a nutshell, it is to ensure the applicability of Offline Rights Online.
Having concluded work on the drafting phase, this is a call to all stakeholders and to Nigerians to lend support towards the speedy passage of this bill in order to ensure a digitally-free Nigeria where their online freedoms and rights are guaranteed.
Chief Operating Officer