Senate introduces bill on social media regulation, prescribes N10m, N5m, N150,000 fines or jail terms for offenders
Few days after the Minister of Information announced plans by the Federal Government to regulate social media usage, the Nigerian Senate has begun working on a legislation to this effect.
When passed and assented to, a N150, 000 fine or a three-month jail term awaits anyone found guilty of posting false information on the social media platforms.
In addition, a penalty of between N5 million and N10 million is being prescribed for any corporate organization that fails to block “false information after being cautioned by the regulatory agency’’.
The bill which has scaled first reading at plenary, is entitled, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019’’.
The social media bill, sponsored by Sen. Sani Musa (Niger East), also stipulates that telecommunication firms that allow their networks to be used to disseminate false information could face sanctions.
At a media briefing after plenary, Musa explained that the move was aimed at “guiding social media users and not to gag the media’’.
“Nigeria is not only for the government but for every Nigerian and we must all work towards moving this country to where it needs to be.
“You can see America and other advanced countries today; they have been together for over hundreds of years.
“They had their period of turmoil and challenges like ours, but they have been able to pass through.
How did they do it? There is rule of law because people are obeying to the laws.
“For a country like Nigeria today and with the advent of social media, there is every reason for a country to as much as possible focus its attention on how this new media is tolerated,’’ he said.
Musa said very soon it would be impossible for an individual to sit his room compose and post false information just to hit at someone.
He said: “I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information, it is like the speed of light.
“Some journalists will look at this legislation as if we are trying bring a law that will gag social media or the right to free press.
“It is legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on social media.’’
On the effects of false information, Musa added:“False information has been disseminated so many time and it has caused chaos in different parts of the world.
“If countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia, Egypt are putting control (measures in place) to prevent the spread of false information, what stops us from doing it?”