The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) have expressed their readiness to collaborate with Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France on the protection of Nigerians’ digital rights.
The Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, gave the assurance, on Wednesday, during the launch of the e-Rights Project by ASF France in Abuja. The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also said they would support ASF France, also known as Lawyers without Borders France, in achieving the objectives of the project.
Prof. Danbatta, represented by Mr Chidi Dingwu, Head of New Media and Information Security, said the project was the latest intervention in promoting the fulfillment of human rights in Nigeria.
“To transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy providing quality life and digital economies for all, it is imperative that we strengthen the people’s confidence in the use of digital technologies, and involvement in the digital economy as stipulated in the soft infrastructure pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030),” he said.
He said this pillar addressed the importance of cybersecurity, digital rights, data protection, and privacy frameworks and guidelines that encouraged citizens to embrace the opportunities digital technologies offer to reposition the Nigerian Economy.
He said since digital and other user rights in communications and electronic media are becoming more significant in society as technology advances, there is a need to protect these rights.
“The event is an acknowledgment of the drive of ASF France to promote the rights of individuals to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection as they engage online,” Danbatta said.
He said as the country continued to boost confidence and trust in its digital economy through fruitful deliberation and conversations, all hands must be on deck to safeguard the people’s rights to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data Protection, in the context of digital technologies, especially the Internet.
Abdullahi, also represented by Mr Emmanuel Edet, NITDA’s Head of Legal Unit, said that as at the last statistics, about 84 million Nigerians had access to the internet
He said this showed that the number of internet users in the country had grown astronomically, hence, the need for the protection of their digital rights cannot be over-emphasized. He said there was a need for every stakeholder to collaborate to ensure that digital space was safe.
Abdullahi, who said that the agency was working with NCC and others to develop child rights protection in the digital space, said he aligned totally with the e-Rights Project to ensure that this was adequately and properly used in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Anthony Ojukwu, said he was always inclined to associate with any program to protect human rights.
“So there is the need to address the challenges and annex the potentials of digital space,” he said.
Ojukwu also said that there was need for legislation that would help safeguard the digital space.
The Chief Executive Officer of NDPB, Dr Vincent Olatunji, said with the huge population of internet users, effort must be made to safeguard the people’s rights.
Olatunji, who was represented at the event, said as nations across the globe march to the ever-increasing tempo of technological advancement in the 4th industrial revolution, the need to safeguard the rights of citizens must be addressed with the keenest sense of equity and justice.
Alexandre Borges-Gomes, Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Nigeria and ECOWAS, said new technologies can contribute significantly to the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy and make public participation easier and more effective.
He, however, said that this could also be abused “In this context, the e RIGHTS project is strategic because it aims at promoting people’s rights in the digital space in Nigeria; digital rights are all about freedom of expression and privacy and an extension of human rights for the internet age,” he said.
Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, the Country Director of ASF France, said the project was the latest human rights initiative of the organization funded by the EU.
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