NITDA Approves 48 Hours Removal of Unlawful or Harmful Content for Online Platform, Says Court Order Not Needed

NITDA DG, Mr Inuwa

Online platform may soon have the mandate to remove within 48 hours any unlawful or harmful content from their platforms following a request from the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

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The decision was a fallout of a stakeholder engagement on the recently released Draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Speaking during a virtual meeting with stakeholder while reviewing the for input from stakeholders on the proposed Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries, the Director General of NITDA, Mr. kashifu Inuwa disclosed that the Agency has reviewed the input of stakeholders and moved the timeline for taking-down harmful or unlawful content from 24 hours to 48 hours.

The stakeholders submitted comments to NITDA on several issues raised in the draft code, which it had been made available to them before the virtually review of the code for froward transmission to the National Assemble for legal backing.

The review document accessed by TechnologyMirror during the meeting revealed that all online platforms in the country have until six months to comply with the code after legal approval while stating that the request for removal unlawful or harmful content don’t require a court order since other legal documents in the country have captured that.

It stated further that what is unlawful has already been defined in other relevant laws in Nigeria.

However, it stated that a user or authorized government agency can notify a platform of the presence of unlawful or harmful content, and that it is on that basis that a platform is required to take-down the content.

Assistant Director and the Head of Legal Services and Board Matters Unit, Emmanuel Edet who represented Inuwa stated that the Code was developed in collaboration with other regulators adding that the definition of disinformation and misinformation stated in the code is as it is in the European Union High Level Expert Group on disinformation and recommended by the United Nations.

Giving condition for the removal content, NITDA, said: “online platforms are
Not required to remove content which is not unlawful but harmful when reported by a user or authorized Government Agency. Rather, they are required to decide its harmfulness from a risk base assessment, taking into consideration the social-cultural peculiarities of Nigeria.”

The Agency rejected request by stakeholders to include citizens and foreign companies outside Nigeria with the operation of the code adding that it is burdensome to direct online platforms to make rules in their platform in major Nigerian languages.

While NITDA accepted that government accounts be removed from verification list as stated in the code, adding that where an unlawful content has been removed, the platform is no longer liable.

The request that data retention be considered as a breach of data privacy was rejected by NITDA stating that data privacy and data protection are not absolute rights and are always balanced against fundamental human rights that affect other citizens.

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