The ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation 2019’ bill, seeking to regulate the use of social media, has passed second reading at the senate.
The proposed legislation was widely criticised following its introduction to the upper legislative chamber two weeks ago.
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Defending the proposed bill, Sani Musa, representing Niger East, said the proposed law is not an attempt to stifle free speech, but an attempt to check the growing threats which if left unchecked, can cause “serious damage” in society.
“While the internet has democratised information, the fact remains that it has also been a weapon in the process which is why governments across the world trying to mitigate the risks associated with information transmission via internet by monitoring abuse and deliberate misconduct,” he said.
“One of the disadvantages of the internet is the spread of falsehood and manipulation of unsuspecting users.”
“Penalty for defaulters goes up to N300,000 for individuals and up to N10 million for corporate organisations and imprisonment of up to three years or both,” he said.
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He cited the fake death of President Muhammadu Buhari in London and his alleged replacement replacement by one Sudanese, Jibril, as an example. He said such are capable of threatening the peace, security and harmony of Nigerians.
The bill passed second reading after Senate President Ahmad Lawan put it to a voice vote. It was however referred to the committee on judiciary to report back in four weeks.