The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has identified the rapid development of the technology sector as one of the contributing factors to the spike in data vulnerability.
He made this assertion while addressing journalists during an institutional interaction/workshop organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Abuja.
According to him, the vulnerability of data was brought about by developments in the technological sector which spotlights recent developments in surveillance by state and non-state actors as well as artificial intelligence’s impact on journalism, freedom of expression and privacy.
Citing Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the minister explained that the fundamental human rights, such as the right to freedom of opinion and expression without interference are a key aspect of democracy all over the world and have shaped the development of many countries over the years.
“I have consistently said the media has nothing to fear from the Federal Government because we see media practitioners as partners in progress, rather than adversaries. The need to also ensure the safety of journalists and equip them for the dynamic and ever-changing technologies cannot be over-emphasised.
“We must know that the tangible cord that links the source and the receiver or, in this case, the reporter and the audience, is the truth which, in this context, means timely and undistorted information disseminated in good faith and with the general intent of improving society.
“There is no doubt that the sanctity of professionalism in the media industry in the past few years has been threatened by the malevolent use of technology to distort and even subvert pure journalistic efforts,” he added.
He, therefore, assured that the government will not relent in its effort to ensure that the media practitioners are in tune with global best practices in their field.
Mohammed further called on the media practitioners to always verify sources of information at their disposal, seeing it is the era of citizen journalism where anyone could hide behind their electronic gadgets to send unverified and, mostly, fake news.
“There is an urgent need for every media organisation to set up a fact-checking desk. I am confident that this workshop will further enhance the efforts of the government to domesticate global initiatives and transfer knowledge towards the improved output in the nation’s information sector.
The workshop was a collaborative effort of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Ministry of Water Resources and other stakeholders.
Earlier in his presentation, the representative of the UNESCO, Peter Omale said journalist needs unhindered access to information and freedom without intimidation in an ideal democracy.
He called for stock-taking by the practitioners, saying that despite the limitations inherent in digital technology, it has impacted positively on all aspects of human life.
While pledging the UNESCO’s continued support to the media industry, he insisted that the freedom and safety of Journalists remain sacrosanct and called for a solution to threats to journalism practice.
In his paper presentation, the head, department of mass communication, Baze University, Prof. Abiodun Adeniyi said necessities of life must be provided for a journalist. Failure to do so will lead to compromise in the journalism practice.
According to him, incentives for productivity would make journalists look away from monetary inducement.
He said digital switch may not concern practitioners in developing nations like Nigeria due to poor power supply and other factors that limit access to such services.
He charged media practitioners to always observe the ethics and code of the practice.