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Group seeks passage of revised Digital Rights Bill

Stakeholders has called for the speedy passage of the revised Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to ensure a safe and thriving digital space in the country.

They noted that the online civic space serve as a platform for citizens, including marginalised groups to raise their voice and effect a change as well as create awareness on critical socio-political issues.

The forum which was organized by Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), in Abuja to discuss the speed up of the passage of the Bill into law and equally enlighten the participants on the importance of domesticating the Digital Rights in the country.

The Country Director, Advocats Sans Frontieres France, Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said technology was evolving and affecting the everyday lives of Nigerians in a very unique way.

She said there was need for the human rights community to adapt to the evolving context of digital technologies.

According to Uzoma, the development has promoted digital journalism, democratizing the flow of information, traditionally controlled by newspapers, magazines, radio, and television companies.

In her words “using the internet comes with unique challenges and emerging issues as the use, access, and understanding of technology is constantly evolving, and in the process creating a gap that the Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill of 2019 attempts to fill”

For example, we’re talking about data protection, protection of online users, the data that we all use, and we’re also talking about issues of freedom of expression. But in this context, we’re looking at freedom of expression online. We’re looking at our rights to association. Communities have moved from offline communities”.

The stakeholders during the panel discussions on how to push for the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, maintained that without human rights there cannot be digital right, and therefore urged the Media professionals to keep advocating until the bill is passed.

One of the panelists, Dr Abdul Hamidu, Lecturer, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the inclusion and accountability cannot be separated from the advocacy for the digital rights and freedom bill.

He called on the vulnerable groups such as women, children and Persons With Disability should to be considered.

Program Officer CITAD, Ali Sabo, said the Human Rights Commission considers digital rights as part of the universal human rights in the today’s contemporary digital world, but certain legal frameworks have been the bottlenecks of such rights particularly in Nigeria.

“The main focus of sitting here is to discuss the issue of digital rights, which Human Rights Commission also feels is part of human rights”. He added

Sabo also said that there had been series of complaints bordering on social media bullying, and infringement of individuals’ privacies where people’s pictures are posted on social media without their consents.

Reporting by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare