In line with one of the pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), aimed at achieving a safer cyber space, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has thrown its weight behind the Avocats Sans Frontiers (ASF) France, on its move towards enhancing the digital rights in Nigeria, a project formally known as the e-RIGHTS, which also enjoys the support of the European Union.
The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, while welcoming the ASF delegation led by Ivan Paneff in his office, affirmed that, regulations need to evolve just as technology is evolving in order to establish an enabling environment for the enjoyment of digital rights in Nigeria.
Inuwa expressed the alarming rate of risk and threat humanity is exposed to through the advancement of technology, noting that technology is manipulating and controlling everything; according to him, it has become the human compass.
He said: “Data are being gathered on our lifestyles and choices are being profiled by the search engine we employ on the internet. This in turn is used to project options for our further searches.”
He argued further that big techs are more powerful than sovereign nations, which is a threat to democracy.
“When the former President of the United State of America Benjamin Franklin was asked after a convention, what kind of government was agreed on? he said, “call it a republic if you can protect it.”
“What he meant by republic is not the Republican Party ideology, because at that time there wasn’t the Republican Party, but republic from the Greek means of ideology which is against a group of people having unaccountable powers over others”, he added.
He further stated that today, big techs have an unaccountable power over us because of the data they accumulate to influence decisions and actions. He opined that cyberspace cannot remain an ungoverned space, they need to be regulated.
According to the DG, connectivity should be a right, not a luxury, because if you are not connected, you will be forgotten. Therefore, it is the right time to have all the digital rights or the e-Rights, which means the human right in the internet era.
He added: “NITDA is focusing more on how it can provide regulatory instruments that will help increase accountability. This is why we have the code of practice for interactive platforms,” he said.
Earlier, Ivan Paneff elaborated on the project stating that the e-RIGHTS project is aimed at promoting the rights of Nigerians in the digital space, harnessing opportunities, and addressing challenges provided by new technologies. With the expectations that the project will respond directly to the needs of Nigeria youths, activists, journalists, online news platforms, bloggers, social media influencers, human right defenders, and active citizens to have access to a free and open internet.
He further noted that digital rights are human rights that are applicable in the Digital Sphere. He agreed with the NITDA boss that government, businesses, and individuals must demonstrate utmost respect for Human Rights offline and online.
“The e-Right will provide a safe online platform for human rights defenders to report and monitor issues of digital right breaches including data privacy breaches, cyber threat, internet shutdown and threat to social media space and to ensure prompt response to cases reported” he added.
Ivan disclosed that the e-RIGHTS project will be implemented in partnership with Spaces for Change and Center for Information Technology Development (CITAD), and the action will take place in four (4) implementation areas including the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja, Lagos, Kano, and Imo States.