Details of federal government’s policy document to regulate the social media and the amendment of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act have started to unfold.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had revealed plans to reintroduce the NBC Act amendment bill as an executive bill in the national assembly.
The bill, it is understood, seeks to empower the commission to regulate social media, internet broadcasting, fix tariffs for pay television services, among other functions.
According to TheCable, the 15-page document contains clauses on social media content regulations, additional functions of the NBC, amendment to the NBC Act, among others.
A breakdown of the bill showed that it contains mostly draconian policies that could still press freedom and freedom of expression if passed into law.
The bill grants the NBC the power to control and regulate social media platforms. It also backs the commission to direct social media platforms and online content providers to delete contents that do not conform to its regulations.
The amendment seeks to give the NBC power to the backend of social media platforms and online content providers for “easy facilitation of complaint resolution”.
Another highlight of the bill is that the NBC will also have the power to license social media platforms and online content providers.
The validity of the licence in the first instance is for a period of two years, and when the licence expires, the commission will consider an application for renewal based on “compliance to the terms and conditions of the licence” as formulated by the commission.
This means that if passed into law, social media platforms and online content providers that do not conform to the terms and conditions of the NBC will not have their licences renewed and they may even be blacklisted by telecommunications companies.
In the same vein, the proposed bill empowers the NBC, police and DSS to ask for user information from social media platforms without their consent or court order.
It also seeks to compel social media platforms to release such user information as requested by the NBC or investigative agencies within a period of seven days.
The bill states that the commission or investigative agency “may in the face of imminent danger” requests the personal information of a user of any social media platform.
The proposal also states that when the commission or an investigative agency is making a user information request for investigation, it may on the basis of court authorisation make such a request from social media platforms and online content providers.
Similarly, in the proposed amendments to the NBC Act, social media platforms and online content providers operating in Nigeria are expected to regulate contents based on the conditions set by the commission.
The following are content regulation requirements set for social media platforms, but not limited to:
“Language, picture, sign, or expression capable of inciting violence shall be removed. Social media platform/online content provider shall not allow organisations or individuals that proclaim violence or illegal indoctrination to have or sustain a presence on their platforms.
“Platform owners shall prohibit and delete content aimed at facilitating, organising, promoting, or admitting to criminal or harmful activities targeted at people, organisation, business, property, or animals.
“Platform owners must remove content that deceives, misrepresents, or otherwise defrauds or exploits others for money or property.
“Social media platform/online content provider shall ensure that content that encourages the promotion and practices of negative myths shall not be allowed.
“Fake news is prohibited. Content shall be verifiable. No content that sexually exploits or endangers children shall be allowed on any social media platform/online content providers.
“Content that depicts, threatens, or promotes sexual violence; sexual assault or sexual exploitation shall be removed.
“Bullying and harassment on social media is prohibited. Hate Speech on social media is prohibited. Harmful stereotype is prohibited. Contents that glorify violence or celebrate the suffering or humiliation of others shall be removed.
“Display of nudity or sexual activity where necessary must be done with prior warning. Sexually explicit language that may lead to sexual solicitation is prohibited.
“Sex-related acts and glorification, such as adultery, prostitution, rape, bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, and LGBTQ are strictly prohibited.
“Content that facilitates, encourages, or coordinates sexual encounter or commercial sexual services between adults shall be removed.”