The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill was passed by the House of Representatives in November 2017 and then by the Senate in March this year. However, to the consternation of civil rights groups, the Bill has not been transmitted to the President for assent.
Advocates of the Bill have started an online campaign using the hashtags, #DigitalRightsBill and #HB490, but with all the pre-election drama going on in the country, it is a tall order keeping this top of mind.
The Bill’s advocates contend that the Bill is a significant piece of legislation, not only for human rights in Nigeria but also for the economy, and therefore they are keen that it enters into force without further delay.
The main aim of the Bill is to promote the freedoms of expression, assembly and association online and guarantee the same application of human rights online as offline. While the Bill is not without its flaws, if it comes into force, it will go some way to protect internet users who choose to voice their criticisms of the Government from harassment by security agencies. Besides the freedoms mentioned above, the Bill also provides for a right to anonymity online and prohibition of unlawful interception and surveillance of citizens’ online activity. A copy of the draft Bill is available here.