Top of Mind: Happy Sunday! I’m overjoyed for my Nigerian brethren who were released from the shackles of VPN this week.
3 big things:
- Nigeria lifts Twitter ban
- US Congress subpoenas
- Crypto in AFCON
Goodbye VPN, hello Twitter!
The short: Nigeria’s government called off its seven-month-long suspension of Twitter’s services in Nigeria. Tsk tsk.
The numbers: A Top10VPN report estimates about $1.45 billion in losses to the country due to the Twitter ban.
Backdrop: Twitter got into hot water after removing a controversial tweet by President Buhari. In turn, the government falsely accused the company of sinister motives to undermine Nigeria.
What we know about the negotiations: Announcing its lift on the ban, the government stated that Twitter had satisfied its conditions, including:
- Licensing as a broadcast medium – establishing a country office in Abuja (with operations set to start in Q1 2022) and compliance with local tax laws.
- Enrolling Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals (PSP). The PSP allows government officials to flag content that violates the platform’s community rules and law enforcement agencies to file a formal report if Twitter violates Nigerian law.
- Commitment to be “sensitive to national security and cohesion”.
About the PSP: Government portals are standard tools for support between consumer-facing tech companies and governments. In Twitter’s case, it doesn’t mean that the government can use the portal to delete tweets or censor people, far from it. They can only flag content for Twitter to action based on its policies.
Big picture: Nigeria’s general elections are near. The ruling party has been unable to campaign, allowing the opposition free reign on the platform. Nigerians have continued to use Twitter through VPN services, rendering the government’s ban ineffectual. The government is most likely trying to save face with younger voters and wants back in on the platform to officially campaign.
Jack’s last hurrah: Insider reports say that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met the conditions before his departure.
Final thoughts: Many Nigerians are concerned about the scope of the conditions Twitter met. We are confident that Twitter will not yield data or moderation rights to the government as many fear. However, the ban remains a terrible precedent, and in terms of legitimacy, the Nigerian government has become the biggest loser.
Explained: US Congress demands big tech data over Jan 6 Capitol riots
The short: Congress has subpoenaed four big tech companies – Twitter, Alphabet, Meta, and Reddit, as it continues investigations into the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots.
The intervention: The House committee wrote to 35 big tech companies to demand data on identified rioters. The request outlined the “content of communications, including all emails, voice messages, text or SMS/MMS messages, videos, photographs, direct messages, address books, contact lists, and other files or other data communications.”
It gets dicey: Like the riots at the capital, the request by Congress is unprecedented. Moreover, the demand was met with caution by many of the subpoenaed big tech firms due to privacy ramifications that could potentially open them up to new legal battles.
Congress says the responses by the four firms are inadequate. However, the committee believes that these inquiries were in good faith and will help prevent actions that could potentially impact democracy and put US citizens at risk in the future.
Final thoughts: The subpoenas will effectively get Congress closer to its goal of unmasking the details of the suspected users’ online activity. But what this means for tech companies is more legal complexity on the privacy end, and heightened risk of facing hostility from Republicans in the event of their control of Congress. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Crypto takes centre stage at the African Cup of Nations
Big deal: The world’s leading crypto exchange, Binance, made history in Africa by being the official cryptocurrency and blockchain platform for a continental football tournament — the 2022 African Cup of Nations. It is the first time the company will sponsor a major football tournament, the first-of-its-kind partnership.
Sponsorship details: Per company statement, Binance is the official partner for the “Assist of the Day, Binance Assist of the Week, and Binance Assist of the Tournament segments, which the Confederation of African Football, the tournament’s organiser, will promote across its social media channels and across all six venues in five cities in the West African country.”
The play: Africans love football, and Binance’s alignment with the competition will attract significant interest from the audience and governments.
Regulators have viewed crypto as a tool for illicit activities leading to restrictive regulatory actions. Binance’s sponsorship of the tournament will further legitimise cryptocurrency on the continent. In addition, the company is betting on Africa’s youthful population’s crypto adoption to advance its market share.
By the numbers: In 2021, Binance reported an increase of 2228.21% in Peer-to-Peer users and 386.93% in volumes from Africa. In many countries, particularly Nigeria, restrictions are responsible for this trading option.
Global trend: More crypto exchanges are leveraging sport to drive mainstream adoption. Binance’s sponsorship of AFCON 2022 is from the same playbook as fellow Singaporean exchange, Crypto.com – which secured a $700m naming rights deal for the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
That’s it for the week.
If you’re in Nigeria and can now tweet without a VPN, respond to this email with a hey!
See you next Sunday.