Digital rights are evolving globally with increasing contestations for safe spaces for internet users. In recent years, State actors like Nigeria have pushed legislative and regulatory frontiers towards more government control while shrinking the spaces for online engagement and interaction for active citizens. According to a report by the Action Group on Free Civic, the Nigerian government’s humongous investment in the acquisition of surveillance technologies like the FinFisher and Circles has enhanced its capacity to spy on private communications of citizens and dissidents. This appetite to restrict digital freedoms was further demonstrated in the infamous ban on Twitter, and the indiscriminate profiling of Nigerian youths who participated in the nationwide #EndSARS protest against police brutality.

In 2023, the Nigerian Data Protection Act was enacted into law. The new law has many interesting provisions that can potentially protect the rights of citizens. It aims among other innovations, to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects, as guaranteed under the CFRN, 1999; and provide safe processing of personal data in the country. However, the law admits to some gaps in its ability to protect active citizens against the excesses of State actors. The e-RIGHTS project under this activity, therefore, seeks to promote an enabling environment for the enjoyment of digital rights in Nigeria by retaining the services of an expert to draft a digital rights reform policy guide that would serve as a model for the Nigerian government to adopt for the development/strengthening of digital rights legal frameworks in the country. The reform policy guide will specifically address issues ranging from data protection, freedom of expression, and online privacy, to surveillance.

The external consultant under this activity will draft a digital rights reform policy guide. The guide will address both the necessary reforms to existing digital rights laws/regulations, warn of potential abuses of policies or legislations that are being developed by the authorities, and present the need for new policies to be implemented, in line with international standards.
Specifically, the external consultant is to undertake the following:
1.  Conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the existing legal framework for the protection of digital rights in Nigeria, including pending legislation before the National Assembly.
 2. Highlight the gaps in the identified Nigerian digital rights legislations, regulations, policies, and bills;
 3. Appraise relevant existing international standards and European Union norms that could be used as a basis for reforms in Nigeria;
 4. Analyze the Nigerian socio-political context for the application and exercise of digital rights by active citizens;
5.  Work with an expert group to facilitate reflections on potential improvements to the current digital rights legislation and proposed policies.

The deliverables to be achieved are as follows:
R1: Draft a digital rights reform policy guide that would serve as a guideline for the Nigerian government to adopt for the development/strengthening of effective digital rights legislation/regulations, based on international standards and European Union norms.

R2: Facilitate seven (7) technical sessions for digital rights expert group. The sessions will provide an opportunity to highlight the gaps in Nigeria’s digital rights legislation and to introduce experts to existing international standards that could be used as a basis for reforms in Nigeria.