…Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedom Bill Deserves Huge Support
Today, 1st of July 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council, at its 32nd Regular Session, adopted Resolution A/HRC/32/L.20 on Digital Rights, a resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet. This is a defining moment for digital rights as nations of the world recognize threats to Digital Rights and Internet freedom and have decided to stand against the foreseeable tyranny in the hands of those who seek to trample on the online rights of citizens.
Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, ‘Gbenga Sesan, said: “In what is an epoch-making moment that saw Nigeria, Brazil, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States of America lead the resolution. This resolution will help to cement the discourse on Digital Rights globally and allow for extensive dialogues for the respect of the inalienable fundamental rights of every user online. This resolution is made in the wake of perennial challenges of Internet shutdowns, illegal surveillance, data privacy infringements, attack of freedom of expression online and direct encroachment of positive rights online.” He continued: “This marks a major victory towards guarding human rights on the Internet and deep appreciation goes to all stakeholders who recognized the need to stand on the right side of history. We wish to particularly commend the Nigerian mission and Foreign Affairs ministry for the role played in speaking against proposed amendments that could have watered down the resolution.”
According to the Resolution, it “… decides to continue its consideration of the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet and other information and communication technology, as well as of how the Internet can be an important tool for fostering citizen and civil society participation, for the realization of development in every community and for exercising human rights, in accordance with its programme of work.”
“As we record a glowing moment for Digital Rights globally, we use this medium to call on global voices – activists/advocates, jurists, civil society associations, the academia – to lend a voice for posterity in seeing that a beacon just like this resolution, in Nigeria, the Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill (HB. 490) – which just passed its second reading at the Federal House of Representatives – is passed into law to provide an institutionalized legal framework for Digital Rights in Nigeria. This will go a long way in lighting torches in other jurisdictions in cyberspace and providing a rights-inclusive environment online. This will also project the leadership position Nigeria has shown globally by making it meaningful at home,” said Adeboye Adegoke, PIN’s Program Manager (ICT Policy).
The Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill (HB. 490) is a draft piece of legislation before the Nigerian Federal Legislature which seeks to guarantee the fundamental human rights of Nigerians online. It is the first draft legal framework which speaks to issues of digital privacy, surveillance, lawful interception, net neutrality, freedom of expression, opinion and information, data use within the fringes of human rights in Africa – it is an opportunity for Nigeria to lead in respect of fundamental human rights in Africa and by extension, the world.