The Nigerian Senate has concluded the second reading of its social media bill. People have seen this as a danger to their freedom of speech. Twitter is boiling over at the moment because of this news. Tweets also arose showing pictures of parts of the bill, and it reveals shocking things. See an example below.
2019 seems like the year of media “containment” all around the world. There is an increase in reports of different governments looking for ways to regulate media use. This includes the one we recently reported about the Kenyan government demanding for its citizens’ Facebook details. The Nigerian Senate had received one such request via a bill. It was sponsored by Senator Muhammad Sani Musa.
This bill is titled: “Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulation and Other related Matters Bill”. The first reactions earlier were what the authorities were afraid of. Protection only means you were initially in danger. Without prejudice, it is clear that false information is dangerous. It can lead to division and panic when there needs to be none.
But the bill is far more dangerous than just being a means of curtailing falsehood. Parts of the proposed bill mentions that the government gets to determine what is a falsehood. What this could mean is that the only way to not fall short of the rule is to not say anything with political implications.
One tweet pointed out:
“Good morning! Hope all is well. Well, it’s not. If the social media bill passes law enforcement agencies have the right to shut down the internet at any time. This means if we are shouting about something our government is doing, they can TURN OFF our internet! [sic]”
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“This year, Iran announced that it wanted to increase the price of fuel. Iranians protested and the government reacted by shutting down the internet in the country to stop the protest and isolate Iran from the world. This is what some people in power want. #SayNoToSocialMediaBill”
In the Senate house, Senator Elisha Abbo spoke in defence of the bill. “False information is cancer,” he said. He added that would likely swallow everyone if it is not checkmated. The matter is now delicately poised as many senators have chosen to be silent on this matter. However, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill.
Watch the video below:
Opposing the social media bill during the second reading at plenary today – part 2 pic.twitter.com/KphL9mGXr2
— HE Chimaroke Nnamani MD. FACOG. D.Sc (@ChimarokeNamani) November 20, 2019
It is important to remember that Senator Bbab Na’Allah suggested a form of social media control back in 2015. After protests, the Senate withdrew the bill. However, with one more reading left to pass it into law, journalists and other users are sitting on the edge of their seats.
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