The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called upon the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, to reject the recently reintroduced social media regulation bill.
SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, made this appeal in a statement released on Sunday, October 15, 2023. According to SERAP, the bill threatens to criminalize the legitimate exercise of human rights, representing a potential infringement on freedom of expression and privacy. The organization emphasized that the bill’s provisions are inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 and the country’s international human rights obligations.
SERAP has warned that should the social media regulation bill pass into law, they will take the National Assembly and the Federal Government to court. Instead of rushing to regulate social media, SERAP has advised the government to harness the opportunities presented by social media and address the nation’s growing social and economic inequalities.The organization also urged the authorities to be transparent about any discussions and engagements with social media companies. They emphasized that such regulation could negatively impact the free flow of information and ideas, affecting economic and social activities.
SERAP further pointed out that under international law, restrictions on social media companies and other intermediaries must adhere to the principles of legality, legitimacy, and necessity. The organization called upon the National Assembly to pressure the government to ensure compliance with the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights obligations regarding freedom of expression and privacy.Access to social media is recognized as a fundamental enabler of various human rights, including freedom of expression, education, freedom of association and assembly, access to information, and participation. SERAP emphasized that any restriction on freedom of expression should meet specific criteria and be proportionate to the situation.
The organization also referred to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has discouraged states from restricting access to the internet and digital technologies. The social media regulation bill is reportedly seeking to amend the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
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