Ban: MTN, Glo, Airtel, Others Yet To Get FG’s Formal Order To Block Twitter

The Nigerian Communications Commission had yet to instruct the telecommunication service providers in the country to block Twitter’s URL in furtherance of the move to enforce the indefinite suspension of the micro-blogging site.

URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is an address of a website and it specifies its location on a computer network and a mechanism for retrieving it.

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The NCC usually writes service providers to block URLs of websites unwanted by the Federal Government as was done in the case of online news outlet, Peoples Gazette, in January.

We learnt that as of 6pm on Friday, the service providers in the country, such as MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9 Mobile, had yet to receive any letter from the NCC in relation to Twitter suspension.

When contacted, a director with the NCC told this newspaper that there had been no communication from the Federal Government on the suspension of Twitter.

The director, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authourised to talk, however, said the suspension would not be effective because it could be circumvented through Virtual Private Network otherwise known as VPN.

The director said, “We, at the NCC, are waiting for a directive from the Federal Government to ask service providers to block the URL of Twitter. However, as of 6pm, we have received no such directive. But how do they even intend to achieve that now that there is VPN?

“Look at it this way – blocking the URL is like putting an anti-virus into the system. And the VPN is like an anti-virus. Nigeria does not have a central Internet point and as such people will exploit the vulnerability inherent in each of the various networks to get to Twitter.”

Also, an official with one of the service providers told revealed that they had not received any directive from the NCC to block Twitter.

He, however, said the VPN could easily be used in circumventing the ban by the Federal Government.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The ban has cost implications as the networks will need to invest in procuring these firewalls and continuously upgrade them as people will always try to circumvent them.”

Also, another high-ranking player in the sector who pleaded anonymity said the telcos were duty-bound to obey whatever they are given by the FG on the Twitter ban.

He said, “I don’t want to comment on it because it is politically related. However, the telcos have to do what the FG wants. Their licences were issued by the FG through the NCC and there is a clause there they must obey whatever the government asks them to do. They have to obey.

“The operational licence was issued to operate as a telecom company in Nigeria. And they are expected to abide by the laws and regulations of the country. If the government has passed a policy or directive that I don’t want XYZ to be making use of the Nigerian server space, the telcos have to carry it out. Their licences were not issued by the US, and Nigeria has its sovereignty, its own legal environment that has a lot to do with the government. The telcos will have to abide by what the FG wants.”

Meanwhile, Spectranet, ipNX Nigeria Limited, Swift Networks Ltd., Vezeti Service LTD, Cyberspace Network Limited, Mobitel Limited, Smile Nigeria, ITClick Solutions Limited, and Netcom Africa are some of the Internet Service Providers in the nation.

Nigeria had about 33 million active social media users as of January 2021. WhatsApp is the most popular platform used in the country, with over 90 million users according to Statista. According to Statista, about 61.4 per cent of Nigerian social media users use Twitter, 86.2 per cent use Facebook, 81.6 per cent use YouTube, 73.1 per cent use Instagram, and 67.2 per cent use Facebook Messenger,

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