If passed into law, the so-called “Social Media Bill” before the Senate in December 2015 would impose penalties of two years in jail or fines up to 5 million Naira for using the internet to send ‘abusive statements’. The bill makes it the 38th bill which in whole or part attempts to limit freedom of speech online, invade internet privacy or introduce internet surveillance and policing in Nigeria. And there is more, as ‘Gbenga Sesan outlines in his report on Internet Governance in Nigeria.
Nigeria has the highest number of internet users in Africa with 81 million people connected, and the number continues to grow. However, as Nigerians increasingly use the internet, it is important to ask how free can they be there? Is their data protected? Do they have their rights to privacy and freedom of expression guaranteed? While the constitution guarantees those rights, there have been many attempts to have those rights taken away. Not only have candidates used sophisticated hacking software to spy on their political opponents during the 2015 elections, there are numerous laws – either before the National Assembly or already approved and applied – which potentially violate the civil liberties of Nigerians on the internet, or which are vague enough to allow for abuse. This report by ‘Gbenga Sesan highlights the various tools, laws and practices that might violate Nigerians’ freedom of expression online.Download Report (PDF)