Monthly Archives

June 2019

Paradigm Initiative sends FoI Request to NCC on Nigeria’s New Surveillance Provisions

By | Digital Rights, Press Release

Paradigm Initiative has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to provide it with information on its role in Nigeria’s surveillance and interception programmes. Relying on the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the pan-African Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion organization is requesting information on the role the regulatory agency plays in enabling law enforcement in Nigeria to carry out communication surveillance and interception of communications in the discharge of their duties. 

In a copy of the request sent to NCC and seen by this media house, the organization has, among other requests, asked NCC to disclose what measures it has in place to ensure that government does not abuse communication surveillance and interception of communications to target political opponents and critics, among others. It also asked the Commission to disclose the regulatory framework under which communication surveillance and interception of communications is being carried out in Nigeria. 

Speaking on the request, Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager, Digital Rights, Anglophone West Africa at Paradigm Initiative, says “this is not the first time Paradigm Initiative is engaging the Nigerian government on its communications surveillance and interception activities. Our goal remains to ensure that surveillance is accountable and transparent. We are equally excited by the prospects of technology to help law enforcement fight criminality, but we are at the same time wary of how such technology can serve as a tool in the hands of the incumbent to abuse citizens’ right to privacy or spy on the opposition and critics of government’’.

On what triggered this latest request, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, Tope Ogundipe, said, “In a Bill recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Government will henceforth allow foreign governments to spy on and intercept the communications of Nigerian citizens.” The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Law makes provision for Nigeria to assist foreign governments to carry out surveillance and intercept communications of suspects during criminal investigations. “The Nigerian Government can no longer deny it has the capacity to carry out communications surveillance and interception, it would be great to see what safeguards are in place around this, given the dangerous dimensions it can take”, Ogundipe concluded.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has seven days within which it must respond to the request according to the Freedom of Information Law 2011.

Paradigm Initiative urges Ethiopia to Keep the Internet On

By | Press Release

For immediate release, June 24 2019

 

Lagos, Arusha

 

On the 22nd of June 2019, Ethiopia experienced an attempted coup against the administration in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region. The failed coup in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara regional state government led to four people being killed, including Ethiopia’s Army Chief of Staff and regional governor Ambachew Mekonnen. The Prime Minister confirmed this on a press conference on the 23rd June where he urged the nation to unite and assured them that the situation was under control.The shooting in Bahir Dar occurred when the state president was holding a meeting to decide how to stop the recruitment of ethnic Amhara militias by Asamnew. In a video spread on Facebook a week earlier and seen by a Reuters reporter Asamnew had advised the Amhara people to arm themselves in preparation for fighting against other groups.

 

Director of Programs, Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe stated, ‘’Prior to the attempted coup there was an internet shutdown from 11 June 2019’’. According to NetBlocks on 14 June, 4:00 p.m. UTC the internet was partially restored, however national connectivity was unstable. Network data showed that messaging apps like Telegram remained restricted as of Friday 21 with no explanation as to why. It was also reported that Ethiopia’s internet was largely disconnected from Saturday evening 22 June 2019 during procession of attempted coup. Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy Fellow for Eastern Africa, Rebecca Ryaktimbo, noted ‘’This leaves much to be desired; that there’s possibly more to the shutdown than meets the eye at this precise time in the transformation process of Ethiopia’’.

 

Ethiopia is not new to internet shutdowns it has been common to experience shutdowns during uncertain times and school examination periods. However since the onset of the new administration efforts have been made to reform Ethiopia’s human rights scope. Among the attempts of this current regime is the privatisation of the Telecom industry which is dominated by a state owned Telecom company. Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s parliament approved a draft law that enables foreign companies to invest in the telecommunications industry of Africa’s second-most populous nation.The legislation establishes an independent communications regulator, accountable to the prime minister, that will be responsible for promoting competition.The new law also says that ownership of telecoms companies “shall be open without limitation to private investors including both domestic investors and foreign investors”.

 

Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy Fellow for Eastern Africa, Rebecca Ryakitimbo added, ‘’Now more than ever the government of Ethiopia needs to keep the digital space open, at a time of rebuilding the democratic landscape of the nation’’. This includes freedom of expression and access to information. She continued, ”While governments may think that throttling and keeping a tight leash on the internet may help to control narratives during crisis, this is not the case in fact it does not only damage the economy but further destroys the people’s trust in the system.” The growing ecosystem of technology and innovation in Ethiopia is not the only party to face turbulence when the internet is shutdown more so the end users who are building businesses, relationships and finding their voices and communities of trust online are at the receiving end of the consequences of a shutdown.  

 

For more information on this release please contact

Paradigm Initiative’s media office via media@paradigmhq.org

Call for Applications: Regional Digital Rights Workshops / Appel à Candidatures: Ateliers Régionaux sur les Droits Numériques

By | Digital Rights

Paradigm Initiative will host two Digital Rights Workshops in Anglophone West Africa and Francophone Africa in October 2019. These workshops will be focused on understanding and navigating the policy and regulatory landscape related to digital rights and security, as well as learning advocacy and engagement strategies for those who work or are interested in promoting and defending human rights online in Africa.

The subject of human rights online has never been more important than it is now. The subject is not only relevant to policy makers, advocates, and civil society organisations working around the theme of ICTs for Development, but for all who rely heavily on the use of the Internet for their work for Human Rights and/or Freedom of Expression, media institutions, and individuals who use the internet for activism, advocacy or civil engagement.. Many African governments are rolling out legislation and policies which enforce privacy violations, infringements to freedom of expression, access restrictions and hurt other digital rights.

We invite you to apply to join the Digital Rights Workshop in either Anglophone West Africa or Francophone Africa by completing the application form at the end of this announcement. The 3-day session in either region, will be open to only a limited number of participants who live and work in these regions. Selection will be based on best-fit considerations with a focus on the likelihood that the workshop will be useful to your ongoing work. Workshop materials, coffee/tea and lunch will be provided during the workshop.. We have limited funding to support flight and accommodation, and you may indicate whether or not you need sponsorship on your application form. However, we strongly encourage that you do not apply for support if you can sponsor yourself to the workshop as this may improve your chances of selection if you qualify. Again, travel support is very limited and will be very competitive. Registration closes July 12, 2019.

Apply via: http://bit.ly/Digital-Rights-Workshops

 


Paradigm Initiative organisera en octobre 2019, deux ateliers sur les droits numériques en Afrique de l’Ouest Anglophone et l’Afrique francophone. Ces ateliers seront axés sur la compréhension, la navigation dans le paysage des politiques, de la réglementation, et sur la collaboration avec d’autres organisations qui sont intéressées afin de promouvoir et défendre les droits de l’homme en ligne en Afrique.

Le sujet des droits de l’homme en ligne est plus important que jamais. Ce domaine ne concerne pas seulement les décideurs, les défenseurs et les organisations de la société civile travaillant sur le thème des TIC pour le développement, mais également pour tous ceux qui comptent beaucoup sur Internet pour leurs travaux sur les droits de l’homme et / ou la liberté d’expression, les médias, les institutions et les personnes qui utilisent Internet à des fins d’activisme, de plaidoyer ou d’engagement civique.

Nous vous invitons à participer à l’atelier sur les droits numériques en Afrique de l’Ouest Anglophone ou en Afrique Francophone en complétant le formulaire de candidature à la fin de cette annonce. La session de trois jours dans la région ne sera ouverte qu’à un nombre limité de participants qui vivent et travaillent dans ces régions. La sélection sera basée sur les meilleures pratiques en mettant l’accent sur la probabilité que l’atelier soit utile à votre travail en cours. Le matériel de l’atelier, le café / thé et le déjeuner seront fournis pendant l’atelier. Cependant, nous vous recommandons vivement de ne pas demander de soutien de voyage si vous pouvez le financer, cela augmentera vos chances de sélection si vous êtes admissible. Encore une fois, l’aide aux déplacements est très limitée et sera très compétitive. Les inscriptions se terminent le 12 juillet 2019.

Postulez via: http://bit.ly/Digital-Rights-Workshops

 

Paradigm Initiative Condemns Internet Disruption in Liberia

By | Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria

June 7 2019

 

It has come to the knowledge of Paradigm Initiative that popular social media platforms in Liberia such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked and cannot be accessed in Liberia.

Paradigm Initiative expressly condemns this act and declares that it is an affront to the freedom of expression and assembly amidst other civil liberties which belong to the citizens and residents of Liberia.

It is reported that the platforms have been blocked in reaction to the ongoing anti-government protests in the capital, Monrovia. The protests which have been tagged ‘Save The State’, were against the high inflation rates and corruption in the country.

Article 15 of the Liberia Constitution 1986 states that ‘Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression…’ and the act of blocking access to the internet or to social media platforms for whatever reason is a gross violation of citizens’ freedom of expression.

The government of Liberia must be aware of the social, cultural, educative and economic value and relevance of the Internet. Business and human lives thrive not only on communication but on other benefits provided by social media platforms and the internet, and to block access to same is to act tyrant and disregard the liberties of the people. Grave and serious legal and historic impacts will be occasioned as a result of the action of the Liberia government.

With one irrational action, the government of Liberia has successfully abused its citizens and residents of their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the right to learn, their right to access the internet and other freedoms and liberties connected to the use of the internet.

We hereby call on the Liberian government to restore access to all disrupted Internet services, and uphold all human rights of its citizens.

For more information on this release, please contact Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer via media@paradigmhq.org

Meet the Paradigm Initiative Team at RightsCon 2019

By | Digital Rights

Paradigm Initiative will be represented by 6 team members at RightsCon 2019 holding in Tunisia next week. The team, comprising Rebecca Ryakitimbo (Google Policy Fellow, Eastern Africa), Bulanda T. Nkhowani (Google Policy Fellow, Southern Africa), Rigobert Kenmogne (Program Officer, Francophone Africa), Adeboye Adegoke (Program Manager, Anglophone West Africa), ‘Gbenga Sesan (Executive Director) and Tope Ogundipe (Director of Programs), will speak on 12 panels and organise/contribute to a series of engaging sessions.

Some of the sessions include ‘Developing a Digital Rights model law for Africa’, Elections and Public Discourse in Africa: Do Social Media Platforms Level the Playing Field?’, ‘Changing Practices of Internet Manipulation’, ‘Kunyamazisha: Gagging Online Free Speech in Sub-Saharan Africa’, ‘Improving Cooperation to Advance Human Rights Online’, ‘Putting Users First! The Responsibility of Tech SMEs in the Global South to Respect Human Rights’, among others.

See sessions that team members are hosting, or speaking at, below:

June 12
0900 – 1015: Cloudy with a Chance of Cybernorms (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)
0900 – 1015: Improving Cooperation to Advance Human Rights Online (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)
1715 – 1830: Multistakeholder Models of Content Moderation: A Global Perspective (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)

June 13
0900 – 1015: Developing a Digital Rights Model Law For Africa (Adeboye Adegoke speaking)
0900 – 1015: Changing Practices of Internet Manipulation (Rigobert Kenmogne speaking)
1030 – 1145: Does Social Media Deserve a Sin Tax? The Impact of Internet Service Levies on Human Rights and  Sustainable Development in Africa (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)
1415 – 1530: Putting Users First! The Responsibility of Tech SMEs in the Global South to Respect Human Rights (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)
1545 – 1700: Elections and Public Discourse in Africa: Do Social Media Platforms Level the Playing Field? (Adeboye Adegoke hosting)
1545 – 1700: Defining Meaningful Access: An expanded approach to connectivity (Tope Ogundipe speaking)
1715 – 1830: Business and Human Rights in Africa and South-Asia: Network Shutdown & Data Disclosure Requests Under Conflicting Legal Frameworks (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking)

June 14
0900 – 1015: Kunyamazisha: Gagging online free speech in Sub-Saharan Africa (Bulanda T. Nkhowani moderating, Rebecca Ryakitimbo speaking)
1030 – 1145: Aligning Cybercrime Laws with International Human Rights Standards (‘Gbenga Sesan speaking
1200 – 1300: “Causing an UPROAR!” Over Internet Freedom at the Universal Periodic Review (Adeboye Adegoke speaking)

For updates from #RightsCon, follow our twitter handle, @ParadigmHQ, and for more details about RightsCon, visit the official conference website at https://www.rightscon.org.

Paradigm Initiative condemns NBC’s violation of Press Freedom in Nigeria

By | Press Release

Abuja, Nigeria
June 7 2019

 

Paradigm Initiative vehemently condemns the action of the National Broadcasting Commission in stifling free expression and the freedom of the press by revoking the license of broadcasting channel, AIT/RayPower for clearly undemocratic reasons.

The NBC claims that its monitoring reports reveal that the Station is inundated with content of a divisive nature from bloggers and social media. But what the Commission fails to recognize and understand is that the Press has the freedom to report expressions by citizens, just the same way citizens have the freedom to express opinions – however controversial.

If a broadcasting channel raises an opinion expressed by a third party, reports on it and receives comments on same, such a broadcasting channel is well within its rights and duties. It is, therefore, unethical and clearly biased of the National Broadcasting Commission to revoke the license of AIT/RayPower on this ground.

The NBC states that it is disturbed with ‘the manner in which social media issues became part of the mainstream media unedited on AIT/RayPower…’ but the Commission should know that opinions of third parties cannot and should not be edited (at least in content) in reportage. The Commission’s concern is therefore antithetical to free speech.

In its most basic form, the freedom of expression and of the press in Nigeria allows for every person to be entitled to free expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

Expressions such as ‘Nigeria irritates me’ or ‘Nigeria is cursed’ may not be the most pleasant or agreeable expressions. But they remain opinions made by people within their rights. And what is a Broadcasting entity if it cannot report opinions, activities, or expression of citizens?

Paradigm Initiative wishes to inform the NBC that revoking the license of one of the few private mainstream broadcasting channels, and for muddy, unfounded and undemocratic reasons, is highly suggestive of bias by the Regulator. We, therefore, recommend that the Shut Down Order against AIT/RayPower and the suspension of the licence of Daar Communications be cancelled and the licence restored.

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