Nigeria to require social media platforms to open local offices

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Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok will be required to register and open offices in Nigeria and appoint government contact persons, according to draft regulations released by the agency. information technology development of african country.

The code of practice for “Internet Intermediate/Interactive Computer Service Platforms” aims to combat online abuse, including disinformation and misinformation, the National Information Technology Development Agency ( NITDA) in the regulations posted on its website.

A statement from the agency’s spokesperson, dated June 13, said the regulations were developed with input from Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and TikTok, among others. As in most countries, these platforms are very popular in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with more than 200 million inhabitants.

NIDTA said platforms will be required to provide relevant information to users or authorized government agencies, including for the purpose of maintaining security and public order.

The code of practice includes an obligation for companies to put in place a comprehensive compliance mechanism to prevent the publication of prohibited content[s] and unethical behavior on their platform.

Companies will also be required to file annual reports with NITDA with the number of registered users in Nigeria, the number of complaints received and details of content removed due to misinformation and misinformation. Information about accounts identified as harmful – including botnets, troll groups, fake accounts and other coordinated disinformation networks – should also be provided to authorities.

Platforms that fall under the code of practice, as determined by the government, will also need to establish a legal entity in Nigeria; appoint a designated national representative to liaise with the Nigerian authorities; comply with local regulatory requirements and comply with applicable tax obligations under Nigerian law.

The internet regulator said the terms are designed to “protect the basic human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country” and will help “set guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem.

The announcement of the code of practice comes almost exactly a year after Nigeria suspended Twitter’s operations in the country, on the grounds that the platform “undermines its corporate existence”.

On June 4, 2021, the Nigerian government, through its Ministry of Information and Culture, announced the decision to suspend operations of Twitter entirely.

However, in October, following user backlash, the government relented and said the ban would be lifted if the platform set up a local office and paid local taxes, according to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. speaking during his telecast to Nigerians on the the country’s 61st independence anniversary.

In his speech, Buhari warned his fellow Nigerians against bad actors who misuse the platform to “organise, coordinate and execute criminal activities, spread fake news and promote ethnic and religious sentiments”.

Finally, earlier this year, Nigeria lifted its ban on Twitter, saying the US-based company had agreed to set up “a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022”, among other agreements with authorities.

The Nigerian government now demands largely the same requirements from all social media and online entertainment platforms operating in the country.

In the press release accompanying the announcement, Hadiza Umar, Head of Corporate Affairs at NITDA, said, “The new global reality is that the activities carried out on these online platforms exert enormous influence on our society, our social interactions and our economic choices. Therefore, the code of practice is an intervention to recalibrate the relationship of online platforms with Nigerians to maximize mutual benefits for our nation”.

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