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Amicable Solution In Sight For Twitter Suspension – FG

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Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that issues surrounding the suspension of the operations of the micro-blogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria will be resolved soon.

The Federal Government had in June, suspended indefinitely, the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, citing persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

Mohammed while fielding questions from State House correspondents on Wednesday after the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said, “I want to say that the end for an amicable solution is very much in sight; we quite appreciate the anxiety of Nigerians who have been worried that, two months after the suspension, we have not been able to finalise talks.

“But I just want to assure you that we have made tremendous progress and when I say tremendous, I mean tremendous.

“We have engaged Twitter both in writing; we have engaged Twitter; we set up a technical committee to engage Twitter; they set up their own committee too.

“They have met virtually and they have exchanged correspondence about three times; and really, apart from dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘ts’ we are actually almost there, almost there.’’

He said that engagements with Twitter had been positive and devoid of any acrimony.

According to him, Twitter admitted that it had never received any kind of informed or detailed or professional communication from any country as they received in Nigeria.

The minister said that Twitter promised that it was going to look into the issues while Nigeria made very clear what it wanted from Twitter.

“Even though our report is not ready; even though we are expecting more clarifications around some conversations with Twitter; I think I can share with you that some of our conditions for Twitter operations to resume in Nigeria.

“And I’m glad that both the Minister of Works, who is a member of the Ministerial Team and Tolu, who is a member of the technical team are here.

“If I am wrong they will correct me; I know that one of clarification that we set is that Twitter must first, in line with the Companies and Allied Matters Act, establish legal presence in Nigeria, with the registration of Nigerian office with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

“We think this is only fair that if you want to do business in Nigeria, you must first register as a Nigerian company, and of course if you want to register, you must have an address. That is one of the conditions we gave Twitter; we also asked that Twitter shall be mandated to employ a designated country representative.

“As of today, we are not aware of any Twitter representative in Nigeria; we say that representative shall be a staff of Twitter, but must be one that has access to the global management of Twitter so that he can serve as a liaison between Nigeria and Twitter.’’

The minister said that the country representative should also have a physical office address in Nigeria with its head office in Abuja and could also have, offices outside the capital if he wanted.

He said that Twitter, in addition to registering in Nigeria, must also register with relevant regulatory authorities like National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

“Fourthly, we asked that Twitter would be mandated to retain a designated local agent to manage its engagement with the government on its operations in Nigeria.

“We also asked that Twitter should commit itself to work with the FIRS on its tax liability because we believe that if you make money in Nigeria, the law says that you must pay taxes according to Nigerian laws.

“Of course, we also asked that they should immediately also start paying VAT and other tax liabilities of any company resident in Nigeria.

“We propose to Twitter that we should agree on a Charter on Online Conduct for content management; this charter will guide both of us. We will agree on what content will be acceptable and which content will not be acceptable.’’

Mohammed said that the Ministerial Team was concerned about contents that would be liable to jeopardise Nigeria’s security, unity and sovereignty.

He said that the team also asked for an agreement on what amounted to prohibited publication and when such was cited and brought to the attention of Twitter, it would delete or remove such publication.

“We also proposed an ombudsman between both Twitter and Nigeria, and it is this ombudsman to whom we can report harmful accounts or suspected troll and then he will act accordingly.

“Finally, we asked that Twitter should immediately establish a local compliance and grievance redress mechanism to be domiciled in Nigeria and to be staffed by persons who understand local content and our culture,’’ he said.

According to him, Twitter has responded, but there are still areas that both parties have yet to agree on.

He said that he was hopeful that Twitter would comply with all the demands, adding that the platform was considering having an office in Nigeria by 2022.

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Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban Seven Months After Shutting it Down

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President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that Twitter Ban be lifted seven months after the federal government suspended the micro logging platform operations in Nigeria.

The Director of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who also doubles as the Chairman, Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement made this known in a statement on Wednesday, in Abuja. According to him, the approval for the suspension of the ban follows a memo written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022. The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.

“In the Memo, the Minister updated and requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation,” Abdullahi said.

It can be recalled that Twitter’s operation was suspended seven months ago, on June 6, 2021 after the microblogging platform deleted a tweet by President Buhari, where he warned those (believed to be members of the Independent People of Biafra- IPOB) destroying INEC’s properties and buildings.

Since then, there has been a back and forth between the federal government who demanded that Twitter open a Nigerian Office and pay taxes, and the microblogging service. However, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in November last year, revealed that correspondence between the federal government and Twitter had reached an advanced stage. He noted that with a few issues to resolve, Twitter had been able to meet 10 out of twelve.

According to British firm, Top10VPN, the ban had affected around 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria. NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool also revealed that the ban costs Nigeria’s economy N103 million every hour. A week after the suspension, many Nigerians took to downloading Virtual Private Networks to access their Twitter accounts in the country.

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French Privacy Watchdog Fines Facebook, Google Nearly $240M

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France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) on Thursday fined Google nearly $170 million and Facebook almost $70 million for making it harder for French users to refuse cookies.

Cookies on a website stores user information. However, France’s privacy regulator has slammed the tech giants, saying that user private information can be hijacked by hackers when they accept the cookies.

CNIL, in its statement, ordered Google and Facebook to fix the issue within three months or face daily fines of more than $100,000 from the restricted committee, the CNIL body that handles sanctions.

“The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favor of consent,” the CNIL wrote.

That puts the two companies in violation of the French Data Protection Act. On Facebook, YouTube and Google sites, one click can enable cookies but it takes multiple clicks to refuse them all, the watchdog commission added.

“While cookies are largely a matter of privacy and convenience, criminals can hijack them to spy on users.”

Google in response to the European nation’s order, said that it was working to make changes in response to the CNIL commandment.

Facebook also noted that it was reviewing the fines demanded of them, by France’s CNIL.

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WhatsApp Launches #YouSaid Education Campaign to Make People More Aware of False News in Nigeria

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WhatsApp, has announced the launch of #YouSaid, a campaign to educate people on how to verify information they come across before passing it on, to help reduce the spread of false news in Nigeria.

The campaign offers tips for WhatsApp users to spot false news and take responsibility in minimizing its spread, by encouraging people to think carefully and check authoritative sources before deciding to share any information with their friends and family.

“At WhatsApp, all personal messages are protected with end-to-end encryption because the safety and security of our users and their messages is important to us. ” Akua Gyekye, WhatsApp Public Policy Lead  said while commenting on the launch of the campaign. “While we remain committed to creating a safe space for our users to communicate privately, we encourage everyone  to verify any information they receive and confirm whether it is true or false before sharing it with other people. Regardless of the person you received the information from, as soon as you share any information, it becomes something people think #YouSaid. Our hope is that this campaign will open up a conversation on the importance of verifying information and thinking carefully about what people read, trust and choose to share” Gyekye added.

Here are four easy ways to reduce the spread of false news on WhatsApp

  1. Understand what a ‘Forwarded’ message means: Any message that has the ‘forwarded’ label (an arrow or double arrow icon) did not start with the person who sent it to you. They will also have received it from someone else before passing it on to you. If you are not sure the information is true, do not forward it to someone else without verifying it.

A double arrow icon  and “Forwarded many times” label will be displayed when a message has been forwarded more than five times since it was originally sent and will restrict sharing to just one chat at a time.

  1. Always fact check information with other sources:  False news can go viral, and photos, audio recordings, and videos can be edited to mislead you. If you’re unsure whether a message is true, check trusted news sites to see where the story came from. When a story is reported in multiple places and from trustworthy sources, it’s more likely to be true.
  2. Look out for messages that look different: If you receive messages that have such things like misspelled words, wrong dates, awkward layouts, unrelated pictures and web addresses (URLs), it’s a sign that the information could be false.
  3. Read the message objectively: Don’t let what you think you know get in the way of your judgment. Review the facts yourself before sharing information. Stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue.

Today, WhatsApp protects the personal communication of over two billion users all over the world, securing it with end-to-end encryption by default.

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