The Do-Not-Disturb (DND) option that allows telecommunication subscribers to decide messages they receive from mobile operators has been temporarily suspended by the Nigerian Communications Commission, the nation’s telecom regulator.
The suspension which was announced by the NCC will now open the doors for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to disseminate specific information on voter education on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This, the NCC said was done upon due consideration of the upcoming General Elections.
The conditional DND suspension will only allow specific messages that will enable MNOs to disseminate voter education information.
The statement from the Commission notes that in implementing the suspension, “MNOs are to be mindful of existing directives regarding the timing and regularity of such messages and the fact that the temporary suspension is only with regards to the specific messages on voters’ education.”
The NCC, however, warned that it will strictly monitor the activities of the MNOs for the duration of the temporary suspension.
The Commission had in the past issued a guideline to all MNOs and Value Added Service (VAS) providers which mandated MNOs to ensure that their facilities are not used to disseminate political or religious contents which are abusive, insulting, intimidating and harassing, and/or which incite violence, hatred or discrimination against any person or group of persons.
The guideline further warned MNOs against providing services to participants in the political process beyond the scope of their licence and the regulatory process permits.
Also, the guideline charged that while maintaining the principle of neutrality in all their dealings regarding all the political process, MNOs should always seek and obtain the approval of the Commission at all times.
MNOs are expected to revert to the directive on DND after the elections.
Following a Direction to the telecommunications service providers in the country, the operators, with effect from July 1, 2016, activated the DND facility which gives subscribers the freedom to choose what messages to receive from the various networks. With this Direction the operators were mandated to dedicate a common Short Code (2442) which enables subscribers take informed decisions over unsolicited message. As at March 31, 2018, about 9.3 million subscribers had activated the DND Service on their lines.