From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government and Google have resolved to tackle the use of private and unlisted YouTube channels and live streams by proscribed groups and terrorist organisations.
The agreement was reached yesterday in Abuja when a team of Google officials visited the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
During the visit, the minister requested that channels and emails containing names of proscribed groups and their affiliates should not be allowed on Google platforms. He cited examples of such channels to include Biafra Digest TV, Umu Biafra TV, Biafra Digest, Asa Biafra TV.
According to him, some of the channels use local languages and dialects during their broadcast to evade being censored.
“Your platform is a platform of choice for IPOB, a proscribe terrorist group. We implore you not to make your platform available to them for their acts of violence and destabilisation. We hope you will cooperate with us as well as our security agencies in this direction,” he said.
Mohammed noted that Nigerians were among the most vibrant social media users in the world, with over 100 million Internet users in the country. He said such internet platforms as Google, Facebook, Tik-Tok, Twitter and Whatsapp enable Nigerians to interact, share ideas, earn a living and participate in social and political affairs.
“However, these platforms are also used by unscrupulous persons or groups for subversive and nefarious activities. Governments worldwide have reacted in varied and measured ways to protect their citizens. Our interest, as a government, is to create a framework for protecting our citizens from the harmful impact of misinformation and fake news, as well as harmful use of the internet,” he said.
The minister disclosed that the government recently proposed a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/ Internet Intermediaries.”
He said th code which attempts to provide a framework for collaboratively protecting Nigerian users of Internet platforms was apt as the country prepares for general elections next year.
He expressed the commitment of the government to work with Google, other social media platforms, civil society, lawyers, media practitioners to ensure a responsible use of the Internet.
Charles Murito, Google Regional Director, Government Affairs said his organisation shared the sentiment of the federal government on the abuse of social media by some groups.
He said they have taken note of the listed channels and urged the ministry to compile others and send to them for necessary actions.
“We share the same sentiment and we do not want our platforms to be used for wrong purposes “I want to assure you that we are going to take this issue seriously. Provide us with the list of the channels, we will work with you to ensure that they will no longer be of nuisance to you,” he said.