Internet affordability and accessibility
The right to the internet has been recognised as a basic human right in some countries. Internet accessibility and affordability should be at the forefront of our goals as a country. The 1 for 2 target set by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4ai) is a good place to start. No one should spend more than 20 % of their income on 1GB of data. When the internet becomes more affordable for everyone with those in the rural areas having better access, then we can begin to have access to educational opportunities, create jobs and expand employment opportunities, improve agricultural and productive outcomes, connect citizens to public services and provide them with better entertainment. A good start will be for the government to put in place policies to achieve this and ensure the Universal Service fund is deployed judiciously
Stop illegal surveillance and protect our personal data
There have been concerns expressed over how vulnerable the private, personal data of Nigerians are. You only have to think of the multiple agencies like FRSC, NIMC, Banks, INEC collecting the same data from Nigerians over and over again without an adequate protective regulatory framework, to realise the extent of the problem. Little wonder, we are always bombarded with unsolicited messages from various avenues. In these days of cybercrime and hacking, it also scary to think of what such sensitive information might cause if it falls in to the hands of criminals. We have recently witnessed sensitive phone calls allegedly by prominent personalities like politicians and judges released over the internet. Imagine how unsettling it is for someone to monitor your phone calls, internet use or every move. Some politicians use the cover up of national security and fighting crime and terrorism to justify surveillance on residents and opposition figures. While there is a place for security, citizens’ privacy is a fundamental right and ought to be guaranteed. It is our wish that we have a comprehensive regulatory framework in accordance with international best practice to protect our personal data and guard against unnecessary surveillance.
Internet shutdowns #Keeption
Internet shutdowns have almost become a thing in Africa. Cameroon and Ethiopia are the latest in the trend of internet shutdowns. Entire communities and sometimes whole countries have been denied internet services from reasons as outrageous as stopping political dissent to as mundane as preventing cheating in exams. Whatever the guise, internet shutdowns are a flagrant abuse of the right to the internet and the right to freedom of expression. It also wrecks untold havoc on the economy of a country. Countries blinded by the need to control the narrative by compelling ISPs and telecoms companies to shutdown the internet, fail to realise they are cutting their nose to spite their face. While other countries and indeed the world battle with this, we hope that Nigeria will not be tempted to stray in this direction, especially in the run-up to the 2019 elections. We also wish our legislators, CSOs and ISPs will take more proactive steps to prevent this from happening.
Digital freedoms and rights
2016 and 2017 saw a lot of bloggers arrested or detained under the Cybercrime Act for simply expressing their opinions online or perhaps being too critical of the government. The cases of Audu Maikori, the Chocolate City Boss and blogger Kemi Olunloyo amongst others, is still fresh in our memory. We need to move beyond this, to a place where everyone can freely express themselves online without fear of recriminations or detention. In a country as divided as Nigeria, while we agree that hate Speech and cyber bullying should be tackled, digital freedoms and rights of Nigerians also need to be upheld. The Government rather than arrest bloggers should engage with online platforms as being done in Europe and America on how to tackle hate speech and illegal content.