The Federal Government claims that its regulation requiring OTT and social media services operating in the country to register and receive a license is in line with worldwide trends.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, stated this on Friday during an appearance on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) program “Good Morning Nigeria,” which was broadcast by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The Federal Government has stopped Twitter’s activities and ordered that all OTT and social media platforms operating in the country register with the Corporate Affairs Commission, according to NAN.
They must also apply for licensing with the National Broadcasting Commission, according to the federal government (NBC).
According to NAN, an over-the-top (OTT) media service is a media service that is delivered directly to viewers via the internet.
The platforms’ operations would be governed under the terms of their registrations, according to the minister, provided they were registered and given licenses.
He lamented the fact that major OTT and social media companies did not have offices in Nigeria, where they operated and profited billions of dollars without paying any taxes.
According to Mohammed, the introduction of social media platforms swept the world by storm, and many countries were unsure if they were being used for commercial communication or information.
Many countries, he added, had now realized the reality and had begun to regulate the platforms, and Nigeria would not be an exception.
“Singapore regulates the social media, Australia has done so, even EU that does not have particular laws on social media has made recommendations in a white paper.
“The EU says that social media platforms that publish content that is harmful to the security of a nation or make such impressionable move, such content should be removed,’’ he said.
To bolster his case, the minister stated that the UK planned to pass a new law on Wednesday that would pay social media corporations up to 10% of their annual revenue or 18 million pounds (about N10.8 billion) if they failed to combat online abuses.
He said that on June 7, the French Competition Regulator penalised Google 220 million Euros (approximately N110 billion) for abusing its dominance in the Internet advertising industry in France.
Similarly, the minister stated that Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet authorized a new set of laws to control social media on Wednesday.
According to the minister, the rules required corporations like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even TikTok to register and create offices in Pakistan.
According to Mohammed, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have secured permits from Turkey’s broadcasting authorities in accordance with the country’s new online broadcasting rule.
With all of this, the minister stated that some foreign missions’ condemnations of the Federal Government’s move against Twitter, as well as its decision to regulate social media, were unjustified.
“We must make the distinction between those countries that are trying to protect their economic and commercial interest from those who are genuinely talking about freedom of speech.
“We should also realise that it is because we have a country called Nigeria that we are discussing freedom of speech.
“Unfortunately, our own people are the ones giving vent and protecting twitter more than Twitter itself under the guise of freedom of expression.
“I believe that Nigeria still ranks among the countries with the freest media in the world today.
“Facebook, Google hang out, Whatsapp, Instagram are still operating in Nigeria.
“Why will the heavens fall because we are suspending twitter because it is promoting insurgency,’’ he said.
The minister reaffirmed that Twitter’s activities would not be halted anywhere in the world if they were found to be helping separatists.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN