*They must be registered with CAC, have country reps
The federal government has announced the conditions under which social media and other internet provider companies must operate within Nigeria from now.
The new rules were published Monday by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
The operators collectively known as Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries (CSPII) must register in Nigeria as a corporate body with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as legal entities just like other companies before operating.
In addition, the CSPII must also employ someone as a country representative who would have the obligation of interfacing between the company and the Nigerian government for its operation to be valid and legally recognised.
A statement from NITDA and signed by Hadiza Umar, Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relationship is available on the NITDA official website www.nitda.gov.ng
NITDA explained that “the Code of Practice is aimed at protecting fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country as well as define guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem. This is in line with international best practices as obtainable in democratic nations and the United Nations.
The Code of practice was developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as input from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, Tik Tok, and others.
Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations and expert groups. The results of these consultations were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.
“NITDA is mandated by Section 6 of the NITDA Act 2007, to standardize, coordinate and develop regulatory frameworks for all Information Technology (IT) practices in Nigeria.
In accordance with its mandates, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the Agency to develop a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries (Online Platforms), in collaboration with relevant regulatory agencies and stakeholders.
”In line with the directive, NITDA wishes to present to the Public a Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries for further review and input.
The new global reality is that the activities conducted on these Online Platforms wield enormous influence over our society, social interaction, and economic choices. Hence, the Code of Practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of Online Platforms with Nigerians in order to maximise mutual benefits for our nation, while promoting a sustainable digital economy.
Additionally, the Code of Practice sets out procedures to safeguard the security and welfare of Nigerians while interacting on these Platforms. It aims to demand accountability from Online Platforms regarding unlawful and harmful content on their platforms. Furthermore, it establishes a robust framework for collaborative efforts to protect Nigerians against online harms, such as hate speech, cyber-bullying, as well as disinformation, and/or misinformation.
Similarly, to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice, NITDA also wishes to notify all Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries operating in Nigeria that the Federal Government of Nigeria has set out conditions for operating in the country. These conditions address issues around legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publications in line with Nigerian laws. The conditions are as follows:
*Establish a legal entity i.e., register with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC);
*Appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities;
*Abide by all regulatory demands after establishing a legal presence;
Comply with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law;
Provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited content and unethical behaviour on their platform; and
Provide information to authorities on harmful accounts, suspected botnets, troll groups, and other coordinated disinformation networks and delete any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed time.
The Federal Government wishes to reiterate its commitment towards ensuring Nigeria fully harnesses the potentials of the Digital Economy and safeguards the security and interest of its citizens in the digital ecosystem.”