Stakeholders have called for the speedy passage of the revised Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to ensure a safe and prosperous digital space in the country.

They noted that online civic space serves as a platform for citizens, including marginalized groups, to raise their voices and effect change, as well as raise awareness on critical sociopolitical issues.

The forum, which was organized by the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), in Abuja, to discuss speeding up the passage of the bill and equally enlighten the participants on the importance of taming Digital Rights in the country.

Advocats Sans Frontieres France National Director Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said technology was evolving and affecting the daily lives of Nigerians in a very unique way.

He said that the human rights community needed to adapt to the evolving context of digital technologies.

According to Uzoma, the development has boosted digital journalism, democratizing the flow of information, traditionally controlled by newspapers, magazines, radio and television companies.

In his words “Internet use comes with unique challenges and emerging issues as the use, access and understanding of technology are constantly evolving and in the process creating a gap that the Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill 2019 attempts to fill”.

For example, we are talking about data protection, online user protection, the data that we all use, and we are also talking about freedom of expression issues. But in this context, we’re looking at free speech online. We are looking at our association rights. Communities have moved from offline communities.”

Stakeholders during panel discussions on how to advance the Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill, argued that without human rights there can be no digital right and therefore urged media professionals to continue advocating until such time as approve the bill.

One of the panelists, Dr. Abdul Hamidu, a professor at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said inclusion and accountability cannot be separated from championing the Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill.

He called for vulnerable groups such as women, children and people with disabilities to be considered.

CITAD Program Officer Ali Sabo said that the Human Rights Commission considers digital rights as part of universal human rights in today’s contemporary digital world, but certain legal frameworks have been the bottlenecks of such rights, particularly in Nigeria.

“The main focus of sitting here is to discuss the issue of digital rights, which the Commission on Human Rights also considers to be part of human rights.” added

Sabo also said there have been a number of complaints bordering on social media harassment and violation of people’s privacy where people’s pictures are posted on social media without their consent.

Reporting by Julian Osamoto; Edited by Adeniyi Bakare