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A Brief Review of the Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access 2019 - Olufunmilayo Mayowa

posted 4 years ago

Introduction

The importance of the
internet in the 21
st century is undeniable. It is the largest and quickest
medium of communication and dissemination of information all over the world.
The internet enables the quick and easy access of information at the
convenience of one’s location. As a vital tool of communication, the internet
enhances human interaction and helps to maintain and foster personal and
business relationships notwithstanding geographical/physical barriers. The
internet can also be used to promote businesses through online marketing and
advertisement.

In order to assist the government in encouraging and increasing
the participation of more Nigerians in the global digital economy, some private
organisations serving as Internet Providers provide free or partially
subsidized internet access in certain locations to help more Nigerians connect
to the internet in pursuit of social and developmental objectives.

Notwithstanding the many benefits of the internet, there are
several ills associated with the use of internet services. These include
identity theft, fraud, violation of privacy, financial crimes, illegal and
immoral use of social media platforms, among others. There is therefore a need
to protect the internet and its users via the enactment and enforcement of
applicable laws and regulations.

In view of the above, the
National Information Technology Development Agency (“NITDA”) as the
National regulator for Informal Technologies in Nigeria recently issued a set
of frameworks and guidelines for the regulation of public internet access in
Nigeria. Some of the major provisions of the guidelines will be discussed
briefly below:

 

Key Provisions of the
Guidelines

The objective of the
Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access (2019) (“the GUIDELINES”)
is to ensure that the provision and use of public internet in Nigeria is
properly regulated in order to ensure safe use of public internet by both
Nigerians and non-Nigerians and to create and promote a mutually beneficial and
friendly environment for public internet access providers and users in Nigeria.

The regulation mandates
every Public Internet Access Provider (“INTERNET PROVIDERS” or “PIAPS”)
to register with and obtain approval from the National Information Technology
Development Agency (“NITDA”) before commencement of its operations. This
is to ensure that the activities and operations of the Internet Providers are
monitored and regulated. The PIAPs are also to ensure that the internet service
provided are of high quality in order to enhance its users connectivity.

The guidelines further
provide that all internet users accessing a public internet must be registered
with each PIAP after which the user will be granted an access code for login.
The verification procedure should be conducted by using the user’s mobile
number which will serve as the user’s unique ID login. Upon registration,
the PIAP is expected to provide a login portal for its users. Each login must
be accompanied with an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), Fair Use Policy (FUP) and
relevant terms and conditions.

Each public internet
network is required to be protected with modern and effective security features
and to prevent unauthorised access into their network. PIAPs are also
required to use the most recent encryption standards to protect user’s data and
communication on the internet. Access to illegal and inappropriate
websites should also be restricted. Internet Providers must ensure
adequate protection of user’s personal data by observing the provisions of the
Nigerian Data Protection Guidelines 2019. The data of users as contained in
their database must be retained and accounted for by the Internet Providers for
at least three (3) years.

PIAPs are required to
guarantee a minimum of 256 kbps as Committed Information Rate (CFI) in a shared
connection for each connected user at a given time. The number of hours a
user is expected to be connected to the internet at login and the maximum
number of connections per day per user should be specified upon login by a
user. Where the internet access is partly subsidized, the PIAP should specify
the amount of data a user can access for free before charges will become
applicable.

 

Mandating the purchase of
goods and services by users as a prerequisite to accessing a public internet is
an offense under the Guidelines. Furthermore, where a cybercrime is
committed on a public Internet, the PIAP is obligated to provide the identity
of the offender.  An assessment of the internet access must be conducted
every six months by Internet Providers to ensure compliance with the provisions
of the Guidelines. Also, upon request by NITDA or other relevant government
agencies, Internet Providers shall make available access to the database of
users on its platform. Failure by the Internet Providers to comply with the
Guidelines will attract penalties to be determined by the NITDA.

The users of public
internet networks also have the responsibility of ensuring that it protects
access devices used and would be liable for damage done to the devices while
surfing the internet. The user must also adhere to the AUP, FUP and Terms and
Conditions of the PIAP. Failure by a user to fulfil any of these may
attract sanctions from the NITDA.

 

Conclusion

These guidelines outline the necessary requirements for the
operation of a public internet access network in Nigeria. It regulates and
controls the quality of services offered by internet providers to the public
especially in relation to personal data and communications on the public
internet. The guideline ensures that adequate security is put in place to
protect the database of members of the public. The need to account for users
data serves as a form of check on the activities of the internet providers and
as a deterrence from misusing the data of its users.

The guideline also serves to checkmate cybercrimes on public
internet. Since all users are mandated to be registered on public internet
networks, the internet providers will be able to monitor and track illegal
activities being conducted on their network and report same to the NITDA for
enforcement actions. This appears to be a good mechanism for curbing cybercrime
in Nigeria in addition to the provisions of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition,
Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015 which is primarily aimed at preventing and punishing
cybercrime activities in Nigeria.

 

 

For
further information on this article and area of law, please contact Funmilayo
Mayowa
 at: S. P. A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos by telephone (+234 1 472
9890), fax (+234 1 4605092), mobile (+234.810.952.8293) or email ([email protected]).

www.spaajibade.com

 

 

Author

posted 6 days ago

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