IN SENATE: Social media bill passes second reading

The controversial Social Media Bill has passed second reading in the Senate. understands that the majority of the Senators in the red chambers of the National Assembly were in support of the bill.

During debate on the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill on Wednesday, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill arguing that there is legislation in the country namely the Cyber Crimes Act which addresses internet falsehood.

He said, “I not only oppose this bill, I condemn it in its entirety. Based on our constitution, there is freedom of information and freedom of speech,” he said.

“There is a cyber crime act that deals with this issue. There are also laws that deals with false information, libel, slander and so on. Yes, fake news has done a lot in America and other countries but they have not brought any law to deal with it.”

While leading the debate on the bill, Musa said the proposed law is not an attempt to stifle free speech, but an attempt to check the growing threats which if left unchecked, can cause “serious damage” in society.

He said, “While the internet has democratised information, the fact remains that it has also been a weapon in the process which is why governments across the world trying to mitigate the risks associated with information transmission via internet by monitoring abuse and deliberate misconduct.

“One of the disadvantages of the internet is the spread of falsehood and manipulation of unsuspecting users.”

But, the bill passed second reading after it was put to a voice vote by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The bill was referred to the committee on judiciary to report back in some coming weeks.

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