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Social Media Regulation Will Create Problems For FG – Hakeem Ajijola

Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari

Popular cyber-security expert, Hakeem Ajijola has come out to say that social media regulation might cause more problems for the Federal Government.

He recently revealed that the government should focus on alternatives to the proposed regulation of new media.

According to him, Nigeria must avoid restrictions and regulation in the social media sector, as it will inadvertently affect other areas.

He added that regulating it could also hinder the growth of Nigerian social media start-ups and businesses that leverage social media to improve their communications and operations and derail the envisaged digital economy.

His words, “Those who have sought to regulate social media did not start with the #EndSARS phenomena. We must appreciate that cyberspace has matured to the point where some level of regulation is desirable especially norms to avoid undue weaponization and international misunderstandings.

“The large technology companies in the social media space like Facebook and Google are arguably too powerful and stifle new potential competitors. Also, these large firms have become de facto global censors because the institutions in government that censor public speech do not have the capacity and in some cases the know-how to do so. Religious censorship based on moral suasion is stretched beyond its limits.

“The censorship parameters of these large, often Southern California based, technology firms often do not align with our indigenous values, cultures, perspectives, and parameters. The question that remains unanswered is if the political class seeks to impose social media regulations in the best interest of the society and its people or to protect the status quo and entrench malfeasance of the political establishment and associated elite. Besides, can Nigeria afford to implement robust and extensive Social Media regulation?

“The Great Firewalls and restrictions of China, Russia and Iran are extremely expensive to set up and very expensive to maintain. Interestingly there are free tools that empower those who desire to bypass such measures to do so. History is replete with examples of “walls” like the Maginot Line which when built were believed to be impenetrable yet when the time came for action they were easily bypassed.

“Nothing is “free.” Restrictions and over regulation in one area often inadvertently affect other areas. What will be the impact of too much or inappropriate regulation on our budding digital economy? Could it stunt the growth of Nigerian social media start-ups, those businesses that leverage social media to improve their communications and operations and derail the envisaged digital economy?

“Any heavy-handed legislation will have unwarranted repercussions and thus Nigerian politicians should seek a more moderated approach that has sanctions for extreme situations but ensures that human freedoms are respected. Cyberspace and social media evolve very rapidly and legislation by nature cannot keep up. As Barry Raveendran Greene famously said, “Cyber-criminals operate at the speed of light while law enforcement moves at the speed of law.” The political class should endeavour to empower a regulator to take actions as needed and adjust as the technology adjusts rather than impose onerous and often inflexible legislation.”


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