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Nigeria sees free expression attacked on multiple fronts

Recent years have seen internet and speech freedoms attacked on multiple fronts in the country of Nigeria.

There are a number of ways in which governments can limit free speech. Many have seen this in direct government censorship, however, there are also a other ways in which this can occur. Be it through creating patterns of self-censorship or creating legislation that makes it difficult to publish stories about certain topics, the ways in which speech can be limited are numerous.

Nigerian internet limitations
One way in which the Nigerian government runs the risk of limiting its citizens' internet freedom is through a recent piece of legislation that puts liability onto internet service providers for the content that is produced on the internet. Following recent terrorist attacks that were carried out by text messages and phone conversations, the government sought to prevent such measures from occurring by holding the telecom companies accountable for the information that was transmitted over their networks - a policy that has been extended to internet providers, according to Info Justice.

This law is being further perpetrated by another legislative act, similar to that of the United States' SOPA Act. In this piece of legislation, businesses like internet cafes would be responsible for the information that was posted from their location, effectively forcing them to monitor all the activity that was produced and also downloaded from their access point.

This law treads some dangerous ground because it puts many small businesses in a precarious position. On the one hand, they may be forced to monitor the activity of its users, which may be quite invasive to many people's freedom of speech. On the other hand, if these establishments do not monitor the activity on their network, the run the risk of being potentially shutdown, effectively undoing many positive strides that had been made in the country according to the news source.

Journalists facing violence
Despite some of the supposed progress being made on certain fronts, there is still a number of places that need to see improvement. For example, 10 journalists were assaulted and arrested last year, according to Ifex.

The beatings were a result of the journalists coverage of a verdict from a coroners' inquest to the cause of death in accidents in 2010. A number of the journalists were brutalized and arrested after being ordered to leave the premises.

In both cases, the government is basically using intimidation tactics to limit people from engaging in potentially controversial activity, especially when it comes at the expense of the ruling party.

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