An anti-social media bill has passed its second reading in the Nigerian Senate, paving the way for it becoming law.
According to reports, the bill, officially called ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019’ could also give power to the Nigerian government to unilaterally order the shutdown of the internet.
The Nigerian government has said the bill is necessary in the interest of “our national peace and unity” – it could result in heavy fines or three years imprisonment for those breaking the law. The bill was introduced to the Senate on 5 November 2019, and will regulate the use of social media in Nigeria according to the sponsor of the bill, Mohammed Sani Musa.
There has been significant opposition to the bill, with fears it could endanger freedom of speech. Managing Director of the African tech website, TechCabal tweeted “This is nothing but self-preservation by the powers that be in Nigeria to muzzle free speech and ban dissent”.
This is not the first time an anti-social media bill has been introduced in the Senate – a similar bill was introduced to the eighth Senate but was later withdrawn after it caused outrage in the country.