President Muhammad Buhari, president of Nigeria
President Muhammad Buhari, president of Nigeria

BREAKING: FG To Take Control Of All Social Media Platforms

TECH DIGEST – In a new development on Sunday, The federal government is in fresh move to introduce an internet firewall to have a separate network for the Nigerian Internet that will give the government full control over social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The new development as gathered by DAILY GIST is to block Nigerians that are still accessing Twitter through VPN and other means despite the federal government’s suspension.

The Federal Government had on Friday ordered all Telecoms to block Nigerians from accessing Twitter.

This action has left many Nigerians with no other choice but to engage the services VPN providers as an alternative option to access Twitter and other social media networks as Nigerian Telecom operators have already confirmed they received instructions to bar their subscribers from the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

DAILY GIST reports that the federal government on Saturday ordered the prosecution of Nigerians using the micro blogging site, Twitter after the suspension.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in a statement, directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to commence immediate prosecution of those who violate the Federal Government’s order suspending Twitter operations in Nigeria.

According to a report by FIJ, The federal government has reached out to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) to discuss plans to build an internet firewall.

The government officials present at the meeting include Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President, and Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture. The internet firewall is a way of having a separate network for the Nigerian Internet that will give the government control over social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

This is similar to the internet filtering system China operates, called the Great Firewall.

The internet firewall will also give the Nigerian government power to block VPN, which many Nigerians are using to access Twitter. The CAC is the central internet regulator, censor, oversight and control agency for China and answers to the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, headed by Xi Jinping, China’s President. Since its existence, the CAC, which also gives approval to data by Chinese companies outside of China, regulates usernames on the Chinese Internet, licences news information services, and bans comments that “harm national security” or “harm the nations honour interest”.

The Nigerian government has in the past few years sought a way to control freedom of expression online.

The new federal government directive which will regulate the social media may be the beginning of what the government had planned to do over the years.

The suspension of Twitter is not going to be the only affected social media. The federal government on Friday directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence licensing all Over-the-Top (OTT) and social media operators in Nigeria.

Over-the-Top (OTT) services are essential media services offered directly to viewers via the internet. Most often, such contents can be streamed on computers, smartphones, and other devices. In Nigeria, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, FB Messenger, Skype, iROKOtv, and Netflix are currently running on OTT.