Seemingly building on section 23 of the Cybercrime Act of 2015, the Nigerian National House of Representatives is working on a bill to enact an act that will censor the online distribution of child pornography in Nigeria.
The main objective of the bill is to prevent the use of the Internet to promote, display, describe or facilitate participation in unlawful sexual activities involving minors — persons below the age of 18.
The bill tagged the Internet Child Pornography Prevention Bill, 2019 (PDF), is sponsored by Hon. Charles Uduyok of the National House of Representatives and was first read on the floor of the lower house of the National Assembly on July 10, 2019.
The bill states that no Internet service provider (ISP) licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should allow the use of its service — regardless of the medium — for sending, receiving, viewing, reading, copying or retrieval of sexual content involving persons below the prescribed age bracket.
Also, the bill allows for bilateral agreements between the minister of communication and any foreign state that would facilitate the exchange of information and cooperation to prevent the spread of sexual content involving minors over the Internet.
According to the bill, the minister of communication may also use special powers to facilitate the search of electronic data or system storage in respect of any offenders of the law when a search warrant is issued.
Contravention of the new law may attract a fine of ₦500,000 and/or two years imprisonment. Directors of corporations or ISPs found flouting this law would be held responsible and receive the applicable punishment.
The NCC is also mandated to cancel the licence of any corporation found guilty of this offence.
This bill appears to have a lenient penalty compared with the provisions made in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2015 which attracted fines of up to ₦25 million naira and/or 15 years imprisonment.
Nigeria does not appear to be alone in this; South Africa has signed an internet censorship bill which prohibits child pornography among other things, and pornography has been outrightly banned in some African countries — Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to name a few.
Techpoint reached out to the bill’s sponsor on its current status and when it would get a second reading but has not received a response.
We are however hopeful that this could be a good policy, not just for now, but for the future.