Nigerian govt releases guidelines on internet access, data protection

Internet users used to illustrate the story ['Photo: Hope for Nigeria]

Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has released five guidelines to guide its operations as well as use and access to internet and IT infrastructure in Nigeria.

The regulations include: “Rule-making Process of NITDA”, “Nigeria Data Protection Regulation”, “Guidelines for Clearance of Information Technology Projects”, “Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access” and “Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media in Public Institutions”.

The agency’s director general, Isa Ibrahim, presented the new regulations and operational framework at a press conference on Friday.

He said the regulations were issued in line with the powers of the agency under its enabling law, and are available on the agency’s website.

The NITDA boss said, by its establishment law of 2007, NITDA is empowered to develop, regulate and advise the government on information technology, in addition to serving as an IT legislator.

Mr Ibrahim said the data protection regulation was formulated in consonance with provisions of Section 6(c) of the NITDA Act which provides the agency with the powers to “issue regulations and monitor the use of electronic communications on all matters pertaining to government, commerce, and the private and public”.

He said the new guidelines, “will form basis the basis for which personal data of Nigerian citizens will be protected and managed”.

The framework and guidelines for public internet access, he said, would provide protection for Nigerians using public internet from data theft and security compromise.

Unfounded Fear?

The official allayed fears of using such regulation against internet freedom for Nigerians, saying the regulations largely applied to service providers, not the end users.

Mr Ibrahim said the guidelines for clearance of information technology projects offers government institutions with process to be followed for IT procurement, under the guidance of the agency.

He said the objective of the new guidelines are “to ensure non-duplication of IT projects, promotion of shared services, the use of local content where available”, and security checks as well as suitability.

The rule-making guidelines, he said, is an international document that would henceforth guide NITDA’s activities in close consultation with the public.

Head of NITDA’s Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT, Kasim Sodangi, said the agency conducted many retreats and consulted with a spectrum of stakeholders before arriving at final copies of the regulations.

Mr Sodangi, a lawyer, said the regulations have become laws, describing them as “subsidiary legislations drawn from the NITDA Act 2007”.

He said breaching the regulations would now be considered offences as stipulated under Section 17 of the NITDA Act and punishable under section 18 of the same legislation.


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