A man is shown in profile against a window holding a camera up to take a photo.
A Nigerian journalist takes pictures with his mobile device in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 12, 2018. CPJ and digital rights groups are calling on the Nigerian government to ensure a data protection bill does not erode press freedom. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

CPJ joins call to revise Nigeria’s draft data protection bill

By on

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined Paradigm Initiative, a Nigeria-based digital rights group, and the NetRights Coalition of over 100 global civil society groups to submit comments on Nigeria’s draft data protection bill, which is undergoing a public consultation process.

The submission said that the bill should “protect those fulfilling their duty as journalists” from censorship under the law, and “define ‘data’ in such a way that ensures journalistic reporting, including on individuals, is explicitly protected.” The existing draft would allow authorities to “ignore the law based on ‘national security’ interests,” the submission said, expressing concern “given the prevalence of such rationale to restrict critical reporting and retaliate against journalists and media organizations.”

In February 2020, CPJ reported how Nigerian police repeatedly leveraged their ability to access to civilians’ call data from telecommunication companies to track down and arrest journalists. A  lawsuit against Nigeria’s communications regulator over warrantless access to such data, filed by a local group as a result of that reporting, is still pending.

The submission, dated September 8, is available here.

[Editor’s note: The third paragraph has been corrected to reflect that CPJ reporting on call data surveillance was published in 2020.]