The controversial bill, titled; ‘Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019’ is sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, representing Niger East Senatorial District.
Why is the bill coming at this time?
The bill is coming when social media has been awash with fake news and has heightened concern about internal security and fragile community relations. After the first reading of the bill last week, Senator Musa said that the bill was aimed at curbing fake news on the internet.
He explained further that the bill is targeted at guiding the users and not to gag media practitioners in Nigeria.
A brief explanation about the ‘Protection from internet falsehood and manipulation bill, 2019
In its explanatory memorandum, the bill, if passed into law, seeks to prevent falsehoods and manipulations and counter the effects of such communications and transmission to sanction offenders with a view of encouraging and enhancing transparency by social media platforms using the internet correspondences.
What makes social media offence
- Transmission of a false statement of fact.
- Providing services to transmit falsehood.
- Firms or telcos that failed to check abuse of fake news on its platform. “For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile, etc. which we use their platform in transmitting this information, if nothing is done, we fine them and you will see that it will be a deterrence to others," Senator told Premium Times while clarifying what the bill is all about.
Fines and penalties
- Citizens who contravene the laws will be liable on conviction to a fine of N300,000 or 3 years in imprisonment and N10 million for a group.
- Any organisation that failed to block the passage of false information via its platform will be liable to pay between N5 million to N10 million as fine.
Human rights experts kick
Since the introduction of the bill at the floor of the National Assembly, Nigerians have described it as a means to gag free expression of internet users in the country.
A digital rights group, Paradigm Initiative, urged the Nigerian Senate and the National Assembly not to pursue such repressive legislation that will serve no good to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, said the digital space must remain open if Nigeria wants to achieve its objective of building a strong digital economy.
A former Senator, Shehu Sani, said the bill is against letters and doctrine of democracy and cautioned the National Assembly over the bill.