November 2014 – PIN, Partners Launch Positive Rights Campaign
Gentlemen of the Press and the general public, you are welcome to this ground-breaking Press Conference.
The sole purpose of this event is to create ample awareness as part of the grand campaign process aimed at bringing the proposed Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to limelight. It is interesting to note that this Bill when finally passed into law could be the most comprehensive single legal framework in the world as far as ICT regulation is concerned. Although Nigeria has an ‘Internet Freedom Declaration’ almost similar to the Brazilian law establishing the principles, guarantees, rights and obligations for the use of Internet in Brazil, a more comprehensive legal regime is required to fill the obvious lacuna in our laws. Unlike Brazil, Nigeria’s example and leadership however is yet to be established in the domain of digital rights and online freedom.
The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill will not only bridge the gap in the legal framework of the Nigerian digital future plans, it will also be a tool for education of the masses, law enforcement officers, as well as the judiciary. More importantly, it will re-orient the current trends of ‘repression-only’ legislation. It will proactively seek to protect, to promote and to safeguard the rights of Nigerians especially with regards to cyberspace.
The Nigerian government is counting on a digital economy that it hopes will respond to its needs in wealth creation, citizen engagement, job creation, and economic and cultural innovation. This is evidenced by its plans, international engagements and ICT policies. It is envisioned that by 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena. However the perspective is challenged by the lack of a legal framework, especially that which proactively guarantees the rights and freedoms of the citizens online. In response to this conspicuous lack, a coalition of organizations, mostly Nigerian and Nigerian-led, have started an initiative towards a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill. NetRightsNG is a coalition of individuals, organizations, and entities who have joined forces to work with all stakeholders towards a Nigerian Digital Rights and Freedom Bill. It does not have any political coloration. NetRightsNG is open to Nigerians, Nigerian organizations or Nigerian partners who share common ideals and are willing to join forces and resources, and for use of digital tools for development in achieving this. The secretariat of NetRightsNG is hosted by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN). Stakeholders use mailing lists for communications and a web site is available on http://www.netrights.ng. Communications on Social Media platforms linked to the initiatives will generally be tagged #NetRightsNG. A Twitter handle (@NetRightsNg) will also be in service, as well as a Facebook page.
In summation, a Digital Rights and Freedom Law in Nigeria is needed to:
- Guarantee that the human rights which apply offline also apply online
- Promote freedom of expression and association-
- Promote access to development through technology-
- Encourage technology for innovation and wealth creation-
- Safeguard the digital liberty of Nigerians, now and in the future-
- Educate Nigerians-
- Equip the judiciary with the necessary legal framework to engage in the digital realm
- Support the participation and engagement of Nigerians in public life-
- Contribute to democracy-
- Advance Nigeria’s leadership in Africa on technology.
It is expected that by 2019, the National Assembly of Nigeria would have voted the Bill into law, setting the pace for and hopefully encouraging other African countries to the same.