A bill seeking to criminalise hate speech online and the social media passed the second reading in the House of Representatives wednesday.
The bill would address publishing online content that is capable of defaming and assassinating the character and reputation of persons who have become victims of massive media onslaught.
Tagged the digital rights and freedom bill, it is intended to safeguard and protect the rights of Internet users, accord Nigerians the right to know how data collected from their participation in online systems will be used, by any organisation and protect Internet users from infringement in any form.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Chukwukemeka Ujam (Enugu PDP) leading the debate, noted that the bill tackles how consent must be secured for collection, use and disclosure of personal data including that of legislators. The bill would stipulate due process to be followed before access on collected personal data can be granted to governmental agencies and others, he added.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, and by extension Africa, offenses relating to the ownership of personal data, hate speech online is addressed…in recent times, the online platform has become a haven for unscrupulous persons to encroach into personal space of law abiding citizens of this great country,” he said.
“The social media has become a platform where everybody can participate as equals in political debates, and where everyone has a voice and audience.
It is leading to personal growth, the right of all citizens to develop their arguments, skills and individuality,” Ujam said.
Codifying online rights in Nigeria will encourage participation and promote innovation in the country through access to cutting edge research from around the world, the lawmaker argued.