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4th Industrial Revolution: Readying Africa for the emerging AI decade

By | Digital Rights, DigitalJobs, ICT Policy

Slowly but steadily, countries across Africa have begun preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), where advances in Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, Robotics, 3D Printing, Nanotechnology and Advanced Wireless Technologies will radically alter the way we live, work and govern our societies. Artificial Intelligence has in particular made significant inroads in Africa, with AI enabled start-ups and other AI-focused institutions beginning to make an impact on the economy, social life and governance.

Governments in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia and South Africa which have made some of the most significant progress in Artificial Intelligence in Africa have been supportive of these initiatives through monetary support for AI research and development and the promotion of STEM education. Nevertheless only a few like Kenya and Tunisia have AI national strategies which can inform AI’s integration within government and public services. However for AI – a cornerstone technology of the 4IR, to make optimum impact in Africa, sweeping structural changes have to take place in the various country contexts on the continent. I explore 3 major areas below.   

Data infrastructure

Image result for Data CenterArtificial Intelligence applications which solve practical problems acquire their ‘’Intelligence’’ by learning from very large datasets. For example AI models built for facial recognition will have been fed with very large datasets consisting of thousands of human faces in order to be trained on what constitutes a human face. By this token, societies and organizations with highly developed data capture, storage and processing ecosystems are better placed to optimally benefit from advances in AI.

This puts Africa at a strategic disadvantage because Africa, like much of the Global South, is data poor. In Africa and much of the Global South, public data collection for national accounts, household and firm surveys, data collection through administrative systems such as birth records, pensions, tax records, health and census are performed infrequently, and often lack the granularity necessary to make meaningful inferences about small, sub-populations of interest. And where some data exist, they are often not in digitized, machine readable formats which can be immediately harnessed for AI applications.

Therefore, in the public sector where AI applications might have been applied for the greatest public good on the continent, the data infrastructure is sadly non-existent or severely inadequate. In a show of what’s possible in a well developed data ecosystem, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom (UK) has collaborated with Google to bring the benefits of AI to public health in the UK through schemes such as rapid detection of cancers. This rapid diagnosis is powered by training AI models with large datasets of patient data within the NHS system. 

It is not a surprise therefore that some of the most promising AI applications in Africa are almost entirely private sector driven. Private sector organizations in Africa typically have data that is collected cost-effectively, with high frequency, and at fine levels of granularity. These include data from mobile phones, electronic transactions, social media, health and fitness apps and satellites which have driven the continents advances in AI applications such as chatbots and AI virtual assistants. However for Africa to fully tap into the potential of its emerging AI economy, the next decade must be focused on developing her public data ecosystems, and possibly effectively integrating them with the private sector in ways that stimulate development and protects human rights.  

Employment and Economic shifts

Image result for employment africa technology

Experts are not unanimous on the effects of AI and automation on the future of work globally. There is a school of thought which states that the aggregate productivity gains across all economic sectors brought about by advances in AI will even out any initial job losses occasioned by AI and automation. Other prominent thought leaders describe a more sombre outlook for the future of jobs and labour. However one thing they all agree on is the outsized effect advances in AI and automation will have on the future of jobs in Africa, compared to other parts of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa is already the world’s youngest region today with more than 60% of its population under the age of 25. By 2030, the continent will be home to more than one-quarter of the world’s total under-25 population, growing the size of its workforce by more than the rest of the world. Nevertheless, World Economic Forum data reveals that African countries are very vulnerable to job displacements occasioned by AI and automation. The statistics below illustrates the vulnerability:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa exhibits a high-skilled employment share of just 6%, a contrast to the global average of 24% as South Africa, Mauritius and Botswana lead the way in the local availability of high-skilled jobs while others, such as Ethiopia and Nigeria, maintain large proportions of workers in lower-skilled jobs – which are more susceptible to automation. 
  • From a technological standpoint, 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria, 48% in Mauritius, 52% in Kenya and 53% in Angola. 

In light of Africa’s vulnerability to extensive job displacement possibly occasioned by AI and automation, urgent steps need to be taken to implement a bottom-up revision of curricula in schools across Africa. More than ever before, industry participation and input is needed in re-shaping learning and instruction in educational institutions to make ready a workforce for the rapidly changing workplaces of the 21st century. What has been observed so far seems more like a top-bottom approach largely led by the private sector, with the establishment of AI research centres across Africa by the global technology giants. Google opened its AI lab in Accra in April 2019, and the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences was established in Kigali Rwanda in 2016 to provide high level manpower in AI and machine learning for Africa.

A more deliberate bottom-up approach will require governments to fashion out policies which respond to the changing nature of employment on the continent, setting the agenda for decades ahead. Implementing this policy might involve tactical steps like investing more in STEM education right from primary, secondary or tertiary education levels. Nevertheless any action needs to flow from deliberate policy which guides government efforts, rather than uncoordinated, knee-jerk government responses to the problem.   

Human Rights and Accountability

Related image

All over the world, developments in AI have outpaced human rights considerations in the design and implementation of these systems. Only belatedly have corporations at the forefront of AI development given serious thought to human rights and accountability in the implementation of AI systems, often in response to pressure from civil society. Both by design and function, AI systems have the potential to hurt human rights, and I explore two areas in the African context where AI systems can do the greatest hurt to human rights.

Data privacy abuses are among the most important ways AI systems can be used to hurt human rights. AI systems need to be trained on massive amounts of data in order to function effectively, and in Africa where only about 23 countries have data protection laws, and even fewer (9) have data protection authorities, it is easy to see the potential for data privacy abuses for AI applications which interface with personal identifiable data of citizens, not least financial and health information.    

Another outlet for human rights violations comes in the shape of the roll-out of facial recognition technology across major cities on the continent. In response to a report by the Wall Street Journal which asserted that Huawei technicians had helped intelligence officials in Uganda to spy on their political opponents, Ugandan police confirmed that the technology company Huawei is rolling out a massive surveillance system that uses facial recognition and other artificial intelligence software to fight crime in the country. Opposition figures within the country are concerned this capability could be used to identify and target demonstrators and opposition figures ahead of the 2021 polls. Similarly, in April 2018, Chinese AI firm CloudWalk signed a deal with the government of Zimbabwe to help build a mass facial recognition system. The AI facial recognition system in use in the Ugandan capital is part of Huawei’s ‘’Safe City initiative’’. This technology is already replicated or will soon be replicated in Kenya, Botswana, Mauritius and Zambia. While the deployment of technologies such as these can be useful in curbing crime, they could also become instruments of oppression in the hands of repressive regimes.

Globally, there is also a growing adoption of AI applications for recruitment of human resources, credit scoring and even in criminal justice administration. These critical decision-making roles which were once the exclusive preserve of humans have huge consequences for those affected by their decisions.The greatest concern with the deployment of these systems is the bias inherent in the algorithms underlying the AI, which are usually trained with data which excludes members of a population. This leads to decisions and outcomes which further exacerbates marginalization.

A high profile example were reports in 2019 which suggested that Apple card, a credit card created by Apple and developed by Goldman Sachs, was seemingly biased against women by giving them less favourable credit limits compared to men. Another concern is the opacity surrounding these AI systems. Citing trade secrets or confidentiality of patents, owners of these AI systems are reluctant to share the source code powering these algorithms. Before these systems or their variants become widely adopted in Africa, policies which protect human rights must be in place to protect the vulnerable and marginalized.

To benefit from AI, Africa must shore up the gains of the 2IR and 3IR        

More African countries need to join countries like Kenya and Tunisia in having AI national strategies which drives coordinated national efforts towards AI development. Furthermore, in addition to solidifying the policy landscape around data infrastructure, digital skills and human rights protection, in order for Africa to benefit optimally from advances in AI which is a keystone technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), there must be a recognition that the 4IR is only a continuum of the 2IR and 3IR.

The countries which have benefited the most so far from the 4IR are those which have continuously invested and improved on the foundational infrastructructure underpinning the 2IR and 3IR – stable electricity, efficient mass transportation (e.g. efficient rail systems) and reliable and fast broadband access, amongst others. As of today, electricity supply and Internet access in Africa is non-existent for large segments of the population, or provided inadequately where existent. Without access to basic, foundational infrastructure like excellent power and broadband, Africa’s 4IR development will be stymied. However, with continuous investments in these sectors as well as new technologies of the 4IR such as AI, Africa might as well turn a corner, and begin a new chapter of development the continent has never seen.  

The author, Babatunde Okunoye is a research officer at Paradigm Initiative.

   

 

Digital Surveillance: Should Rwandans be worried?

By | Uncategorized

By:  Leonce Muvunyi & Louis Gitinywa for Paradigm Initiative 


Collection, handling and sharing of data public information continue to dividing opinions as government embark on tapping into ICT solutions to ensuring safety.

Starting from May this year, the government of Rwanda has embarked on putting up the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras all around the main roads of the city of Kigali.

According to the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) and Rwanda National Police which are in charge of implementing this policy claim that use of CCTVs will significantly boost security by establishing a robust mechanism of deterring, preventing and detecting crime.

The Inspector General of Police Dan Munyuza indicates that the enforcement of cameras networks across the country, which is anchored into the special presidential directives,  is in line with ensuring the general public security.

“They are well advanced to the extent they don’t only capture the traffic speed, there those which monitor the violations of road traffic regulations, and there those that could run number plate recognition of vehicles, and we can see them from the commanding post here at the police headquarters,” said IGP Munyuza, during a recent interaction session with the media.

Online sources define a closed-circuit television (CCTV) as video surveillance type of cameras network system that enables surveillance by transmitting its signals only to the screens that are directly connected to it.

Apart from the CCTV Networks in Kigali City, the government has started enforcing the “traffic radars” on the highways connecting capital city Kigali with neighbouring countries since earlier in May this year, which will be over hundreds of traffic radars devices installed.

These include Kigali- Kagitumba as you connect to Kagitumba border with Uganda, Kigali- Rusumo on your way to Tanzania, Kigali-Nyamata-Nemba connecting with Burundi, Kigali-Muhanga-Huye- Rusizi going in the south-west border with Democratic Republic of Congo and Kigali-Musanze as you connect with DR Congo in the north-west.

In addition, the government has adopted a new policy along with a number of measures; the use of technology that would significantly improve road safety and security of its users. Government officials emphasize that all these measures add up on the Law Governing Information and Communication Technologies of 2018, which provides for prevention and punishment against cybercrime offences.

“We are going to roll out the installation of the radar countrywide with much emphasis made on the accidents spots. Some of them will be static whereas others will be mobile and placed on a certain area for a different purpose.”  Munyuza revealed that a survey that had been carried out on the roads had indicated several places, and it had suggested where all these cameras would be installed.

According to the head of Rwanda’s national Police IGP Munyuza, which is now under the docket of the newly reintroduced Ministry of Internal Security, CCTV data is collected through a dedicated private network which cannot be accessible over the Internet. The storage of this data is regulated by internal standard operating procedures of the Rwanda national police and the use of relevant tools to secure the IT environment.

However, there are some concerns about the process of collection, handling and sharing of personal data and risks of illegal surveillance through the use of CCTVs which continues to divide the public opinion.

In this context of the introduction of digital surveillance’s cutting-edge technological capacity, coupled with the massive development of the digital economy in both public and private sector requires the need to have a comprehensive data protection legal framework in place, to protect and promote the right to privacy.

Data collection in the wake of data scandals such as Cambridge Analytica and the 2018 Google data breach have culminated to public scepticism in ways of data in which data is collected and processed.

A great responsibility is placed on the state to protecting the privacy of citizens by implementing more comprehensive guidelines preventing government and corporations from overstepping their boundaries by articulating the rights and freedoms of people in digital spaces, meaning data subjects can request information about why and how their data is processed.

This is considering that today Rwanda is striving for the digital era with the proliferation use of biometrics and digitized public services. Furthermore, as the digital economy and cashless transactions are becoming increasingly common in the country. While these systems promote certain benefits, there is however insufficient focus on the potential consequences of the technology such as the collection and use of personal data for commercial purposes, and how this practice leads to algorithmic manipulation of human behaviour on the decision we make and the services we receive.

In the meantime, this recent development links up with the global debate about the ability of Silicon Valley’s GAFA to freely collect consumers personal data in developing countries without any regulations has raised questions and public concerns about the lack of a clear comprehensive legislation and a regulatory framework on personal data privacy and data protection in the country.

Although,  article 23 of the constitution of Rwanda of 2003 (revised in 2015), reaffirms the respect for privacy. Besides the constitution, other relevant laws like the penal code, the 2010 law relating to electronic transactions and the 2001 law governing telecommunications recognize and provides for some guidelines regarding the protection of privacy and personal data.

However, the right to privacy enshrined in the Rwandan constitution has yet to be operationalized, the existing ICT laws and regulations only recognize so far the user consent and opt-in mechanisms.

Moving through the Region, Kenya is so far the only country that has recently enacted a comprehensive data protection law. the Kenyan Act determines the need for any subject company to create a privacy policy that outlines why and how data is collected, its handling and sharing of personal information or data; among the groundbreaking statutes written into the law is the provision for a data protection commissioner; a mechanism that enables citizens and data subjects to ascertain whether their personal information is being processed in accordance with the applicable data protection legislation.

With regard to Analyticaprotection of privacy and personal data information, it is important to note that according to the recent figures published in 2019 by Rwanda Investigation Bureau it has been revealed that there were at least 113 cases of cybercrime particularly targeting personal data related to financial transactions. A figure that has doubled compared to the previous year of 2018.

Furthermore, based on the recent 2018 Africa Cybersecurity Report by Serianu Limited, the cost of theft of personal data in Africa was estimated at $3.5 Billion, a rise from 2016.

Experts indicate that the use of technology in public life should be centred around transparency and the rule of law. In particular, privacy and security as the pillars of trustworthy services that enhance the overall well-being of citizens.

The development and the implementation of smart cities and the safety and security policies must be done responsibly, with full understanding and mitigation of their impact on the citizens right to privacy and other constitutional rights.

While the rights to privacy and personal data are not absolute, they must be rigorously safeguarded, the right to privacy may only be limited through a law which regulates infringement. Although some databases can be used for legitimates purposes. However, there are many risks associated with collecting and storing the very information that constitutes an individual’s identity.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal shows us how damaging technologies can have a corrosive effect on privacy, the misappropriation of personal information can deny individuals their identity especially when data is collected without proper control or oversight. In many countries around the world, national privacy laws are increasingly being revised to strengthen the protection of personal data privacy and impose penalties for data breaches.

As Rwanda today is striving for the digital era with digitized public services with an open online portal like “Irembo”, cashless transactions, digitized citizens’ identity cards and passports.  Thus as the scale and the scope of digital economy development accelerates the demand for data is increasing.  Furthermore, in the context of the current vacuum of a comprehensive data framework, there is a heightened risk of data misuse.

Therefore it is imperative for the government to respond to public concerns around privacy with a robust legal framework for data protection that will enforce accountability towards the citizens over the use of their personal information by bodies or corporations that collect them.

The Authors:

Louis Gitinywa is Rwandan Lawyer. Before  joining the private practice in 2018,  he served as public Prosecutor at the Rwanda National Prosecution Authority for 6 years. He has been involved in many cases related to prosecution of economic crimes, and other criminal cases before domestic courts in Rwanda.

Muvunyi Leonce is Rwandan Journalist based in Kigali, he works at Nation Media Group as an Editorialist for Rwanda Today Newspaper and as a correspondent for the AFP covering the Great lakes region.

Call for Registration: Digital rights workshop in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

By | Digital Rights

Paradigm Initiative in partnership with Policy Alert @PolicyAlert  is pleased to host a digital rights workshop in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

The workshop will be focused on understanding and navigating the policy and regulatory landscape related to digital rights and its intersection with other subjects such as security, media, digital identity, business, as well as learning advocacy and engagement strategies for those who work or are interested in promoting and defending human rights online in Africa.

Discussions at the workshop will explore topical issues around privacy and surveillance, digital identity, multistakeholder approach to digital policy, Internet shutdowns, content takedowns, freedom of expression online, digital security amongst others.

The workshop is scheduled to hold at a time when the government is rolling out legislations such as the hate speech bill and the social media bill. The workshop is aimed at empowering participants with the understanding of digital policies and how they affect human rights. Participants will also learn about various actors with the policy landscape.

Eligibility:

The workshop will be open to only a limited number of participants who live and work in the South South and South East regions of Nigeria. The States under consideration are Abia, Akwa Ibom Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. Selection will be based on  best-fit considerations with a focus on the likelihood that the workshop will be useful to your ongoing work.

Funding:

Limited funding is available to support transport 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.

How to Apply

If you would like to secure one of the workshop slots, please Apply Here.

 

 

 

Vacancy: Chief Operations Officer

By | DigitalJobs

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for underserved African youth. Our programs include digital inclusion programs – such as the Life Skills. ICT. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program and the Dufuna program – and a digital rights program. PIN’s operational headquarters is in Lagos, Nigeria, and maintains digital inclusion offices across Nigeria (Aba, Ajegunle, Kano) and digital rights offices in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia.

The Chief Operations Officer will oversee administration across offices and lead PIN’s operations on the continent including strategy development, research, writing, media representation, program alignments, co-fundraising (with the Executive Director) and advocacy. The ideal candidate will have a lot of experience in the social sector and a strong understanding of local or grassroots organizations and movements in African countries. She (or he) will demonstrate expertise in digital rights and inclusion programs and processes.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Administration
  • Identify new funding opportunities in the countries in which we work and work with managers and team members, as may be required to make sure that every income-earning opportunity that comes our way is utilized maximally
  • Preparation of grant proposals and initiating fundraising activities to ensure the availability of resources for all programs
  • Overseeing the delivery of administrative functions by the Human Resources Manager, Finance Manager and Communications Manager
  • Attending meetings and representing the organization at functions that align with PIN’s core values and mission
  • Building and maintaining high-quality relationships and communications with partners, donors, funders, and other partners
  • Actively promoting the organization’s programs, projects, and services
  1. Program Management
  • C0-designing, co-development, supervision, and evaluation of programs at Paradigm Initiative
  • Leading staff and assure the highest quality program outputs
  • Conducting periodic technical reviews of programs, providing feedback to ensure projects are following or advancing best practices, achieving expected targets, meeting beneficiary and donor expectations, and achieving the objectives set in the strategic management plan
  • Providing thought leadership thereby expanding Paradigm Initiative’s technical reputation, while following and engaging in relevant technical dialogue within the industry
  • Compiling and maintain reports on the monthly, quarterly and annual program activities
  • Analyzing trends in programs, identifying issues, developing and recommending solutions to the Executive Director
  • Supporting the cultivation and strengthening of institutional relationships with donors, partner organizations and other collaborators in the international development arena
  • Building and maintaining high-quality relationships and communications with partners and other stakeholders

Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Advanced degree in Business Administration in the Social Sector, Public Administration, International Affairs, Political Science, or related areas
  • 10-15 years’ experience within social sector organizations, with at least 5 of those in a senior managerial role
  • Experience working with, or a strong understanding of, local or grassroots organizations and movements in African countries
  • Work experience in Central, East, Southern or West Africa
  • Significant demonstration of project leadership and management experience
  • Proven ability to think analytically and plan strategically, including setting objectives and identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for PIN’s work
  • Poise, flexibility, discretion, and mature judgment to handle and respond appropriately and professionally in stressful circumstances
  • Well organized, self-motivated, and able to conceptualize and implement programs and work as part of a team
  • Creative thinking and an ability to develop new lines of work, whether in new countries or particular thematic issues
  • Excellent leader (leads by example) and skills developer, particularly with remote staff
  • Outstanding research, analysis, communication and writing skills
  • Fluency in English is required, working knowledge of French is a major advantage
  • A sense of humor, passion for people and ability to not take yourself too seriously

Salaries and Benefits

N 7,856,894.73 p/a (gross) plus other benefits such as health insurance, pension contributions, communications allowance, sabbatical leave, paid leave, maternity/paternity leave, dependent relative allowance and 13th month salary.

How To Apply

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and the contact information for three references to leadership@paradigmhq.org. Please use “Chief Operations Officer” and your name as the subject of your eMail (for example, “Chief Operations Officer_Chabota Siliko”). Only complete applications will be reviewed and due to the usual volume of applications, we may only be able to contact shortlisted candidates.

Deadline: 22nd February, 2020 (Applications are reviewed as they roll in, kindly apply before the deadline).

Note: There is a possibility of immediate resumption for role.

Liberia: Paradigm Initiative calls on authorities to respect the rights of Henry Pedro Costa

By | Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

Abuja, January 10, 2020 – Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has been monitoring the news about the alleged planned arrest and extradition request made by the Liberian Government to the government of Sierra Leone, on Henry Pedro Costa, a known critic of President George Weah of Liberia.According to AFP, Costa, a United States resident returned to Liberia last month ahead of an anti-Weah protest which took place on January 6, 2020.

Local media said he was stopped from boarding a plane in Liberia on Friday for allegedly possessing forged travel documents. A claim Costa denied. Costa is a fierce critic of President Weah and often uses his popular radio show regularly streamed on his Facebook page for his criticism.We denounce these undemocratic tactics to silence dissent in Liberia and call on the government of Liberia to respect its law and its international commitment to respect the rights of all citizens.

In February 2019, the government of Sierra Leone repeals its penal code citing conflicts with article 15 of the Constitution of Liberia, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression in Liberia.

Boye Adegoke, Digital Rights Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative says: “We commend the position taken by the Government of Sierra Leone in asserting itself as a sovereign nation with a duty to recognize the rights and freedom of Mr. Pedro Costa and for refusing to be used as an instrument to eliminate critical voices who are exercising their rights to freedom of expression by voicing out their opinion on the state of governance in Liberia.

We take away the positives from the statement attributed to Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communication, Mr. Mohamed R. Swaray that ’the government of Sierra Leone is committed to protecting the rights of Mr. Costa and while there is some cooperation with Liberia regarding the request from immigration authorities, it has no intentions of straying from its democratic principles.

We call on the government of Liberia and other African governments to continue to uphold important democratic principles and respect the rights of their citizens to use digital platforms such as social media platforms to express their opinions on governance and other legitimate debates,” Boye concluded.

A protestor holds up a sign exhorting opposition against dictatorship in Togo (West - Africa) in 2017

Les Deepfakes, la nouvelle menace digitale pour les élections en Afrique en 2020

By | Digital Rights

L’année 2020 sera une année électorale pour plusieurs pays en Afrique. Au moins 21 pays – dont l’Ethiopie, le Togo, le Soudan, le Mali, le Gabon, l’Egypte, le Tchad et le Cameroun – organiseront des élections présidentielles ou législatives dans le courant de l’année.

 Au cours des cinq (5) dernières années, les violations des droits numériques telles que les coupures de l’Internet, les arrestations de blogueurs et de journalistes ont souvent coïncidé avec les élections en Afrique. 

En Afrique, les élections sont généralement des événements à enjeux élevés où les droits numériques sont régulièrement marginalisés pour atteindre des objectifs politiques. 

De par le passé, les huit (08) pays mentionnés ci-dessus ont déjà connu des cas de coupures de  l’Internet pendant les événements politiques. A l’approche de la période électorale de 2020, les défenseurs des droits numériques sont donc en alerte face à la possibilité de perturbations de l’Internet et d’autres violations des droits numériques.

Cependant, le développement rapide de l’intelligence artificielle (IA) et des techniques de désinformation à l’échelle mondiale soulève la possibilité d’une nouvelle menace pour la stabilité des pays africains en périodes électorales: les Deepfakes.  

 Les Deepfakes sont, en effet, des vidéos qui paraissent  hyper-réelles mais qui sont en effet truquées à l’aide d’outils d’Intelligence Artificielle. Elles montrent généralement des individus ou personnalités connues à qui l’on prête des faits ou dits dans le but de désinformer l’opinion. Les Deepfakes ont déjà atteint une certaine notoriété aux États-Unis.

En juin 2019 par exemple, une vidéo truquée avait été diffusée montrant le PDG de Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, déclarant que «  celui qui contrôle les données contrôle l’avenir ». La vidéo avait été publiée à la veille des audiences du Congrès américain sur l’intelligence artificielle auxquelles il devait assister. 

 De même, des chercheurs de l’Université de Washington USA avaient diffusé une vidéo truquée du président Obama dans laquelle ils lui ont  attribuent des propos que ce dernier n’avait jamais tenus. 

Une autre vidéo tronquée de Nancy Pelosi, la présidente de la Chambre des représentants des États-Unis, a été diffusée montrant  celle-ci dans un état d’ivresse et marmonnant des propos qui n’avaient pas de sens. 

Bien qu’il n’y ait aucune preuve que cette vidéo particulière ait été générée par l’IA, son effet a pu être mesuré par le fait qu’elle a été partagée sur Twitter par le président américain Donald Trump. 

En Afrique également, lors de son traditionnel discours présidentiel du nouvel an de 2019 au Gabon, le président Ali Bongo aurait détourné les yeux pendant la diffusion de la vidéo.  Ce geste a suscité des soupçons au sein de la population gabonaise. Certains pensent, en effet, que la vidéo du Président n’était pas réelle. 

L’incertitude créée par ce scénario dans le contexte de la maladie du président a conduit à une tentative de coup d’État avortée et à des coupures  de l’Internet dans ce pays d’Afrique centrale. Il n’y avait pas de preuve évidente que cette vidéo était une contrefaçon, mais l’existence même de la technologie dans le contexte politique fragile qui existait au Gabon à l’époque a créé une incertitude. 

L’Afrique, tout comme d’autres régions du monde, a déjà démontré sa vulnérabilité aux campagnes de désinformation par le scandale de Cambridge Analytica qui a affecté le Kenya et le Nigeria. Compte tenu du faible niveau  d’alphabétisation sur le continent, il n’est pas exagéré d’imaginer comment une campagne de désinformation bien coordonnée par l’AI pourrait alimenter les troubles sociaux autour des élections. 

 Imaginez une vidéo truquée montrant un dirigeant faisant des commentaires incendiaires à l’égard d’un autre groupe ethnique ou religieux, ou des  responsables de commissions électorales lisant de faux résultats électoraux qui deviennent ensuite virale. Cette vidéo fera d’énorme dégâts même si elle est démentie à la seconde qui suit sa publication. 

L’Afrique a une longue et illustre histoire de violence et de carnage autour des élections.  Des scénarios comme ceux présenté plus haut peuvent très bien être des facteurs de risques élevés. Comme nous l’avons déjà clairement indiqué, la présence même de la technologie Deepfake sème le doute sur l’originalité des vidéo même réelles.  Une situation qui engendre encore plus d’incertitude et d’instabilité.

L’année 2020 représente une nouvelle occasion pour les défenseurs des droits numériques d’être vigilants dans la défense des droits numériques. Mais pas seulement les droits numériques tels que nous les connaissons traditionnellement. Alors que le domaine numérique s’étend pour engendrer d’autres avancées technologiques comme l’intelligence artificielle, les défenseurs des droits numériques doivent suivre ces avancées et être conscients des conséquences sociopolitiques des nouvelles technologies. 

Ils ne peuvent pas se permettre de ne pas le faire, car l’enjeu est énorme, notamment la sécurité et la stabilité des pays dans lesquelles ils vivent.

L’auteur du texte: Babatunde Okunoye est Chercheur en Gouvernance de l’Internet à Paradigm Initiative.

 

 

 

Abdou Razak (C) of Togo demonstrates with others against President Faure Gnassingbé

Elections in Africa: AI generated deepfakes could be the greatest digital threat in 2020

By | Digital Rights

By: Babatunde Okunoye 

The year 2020 will be a year of many elections in Africa. At least 21 nations – including Ethiopia, Togo, Sudan, Mali, Gabon, Egypt, Chad and Cameroon will conduct Presidential or Parliamentary elections in the course of the year.

In the past 5 years, digital rights violations such as Internet disruptions and arrests of bloggers and Journalists have often coincided with elections in Africa. In the cut-throat political brinkmanship Africa has been known for, elections are high stakes events where digital rights are routinely relegated to achieve political ends. The eight nations mentioned above in particular have a history of Internet disruptions during political events. As we approach the 2020 election cycle therefore, digital rights advocates are on alert to the possibility of Internet disruptions and other digital rights violations.

Nevertheless, the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and disinformation techniques globally raises the possibility of a new threat to stability during the 2020 election cycle in Africa. This new threat comes in the shape of Artificial Intelligence generated deepfakes. Deepfakes are AI-generated hyper-real but fake videos purporting to show particular individuals saying or doing whatever the generator of the video intends to display. Deepfakes have already attained notoriety in the United States. For instance, a deepfake video featuring the likeness of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating “whoever controls the data, controls the future” surfaced on the Internet on the eve of United States Congressional hearings on Artificial Intelligence he was scheduled to attend last year.

Similarly, researchers at the University of Washington, USA had circulated online a deepfake video of President Obama in which they made him say whatever they wanted. Also, a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives appeared online, giving the appearance of her being drunk and slurring her words. Although there was no evidence that this particular video was AI-generated, its effect could be gauged by the fact that it was shared on Twitter by Donald Trump, the United States President.

In Africa also, during his traditional new year presidential address of 2019 in Gabon, President Ali Bongo was reported to look off during the video broadcast, which triggered suspicions in some quarters that this video broadcast was an AI-generated deepfake of the President. The uncertainty created by this scenario within the context of the President’s illness led to an aborted coup attempt and Internet disruption in the central African country. There was no clear-cut evidence that this particular video was a deepfake, but the very existence of the technology within the fragile political context existent in Gabon at the time created uncertainty.

Africa, much like other regions of the world, has already demonstrated its vulnerability to misinformation campaigns through the Cambridge Analytica scandal which had footprints in Kenya and Nigeria. Given the high levels of illiteracy on the continent, it is not far-fetched to imagine how a well-coordinated AI deepfake campaign could stoke social unrest around elections, particularly in highly contested contexts like Gabon. Imagine a deepfake video showing a prominent leader making inflammatory comments towards another ethnic or religious group, or of election commissioners reading fake election results which then go viral and are widely accepted as original before being debunked. Africa has a long and illustrious history of violence and carnage around elections, and scenarios such as these can well be tinder for the fire. As already clearly stated, the very presence of AI deepfake technology sows doubt on the originality of even real video broadcasts, a situation which further spawns uncertainty and instability.

The year 2020 represents another opportunity for digital rights advocates to be on the watch in defence of digital rights. But not just digital rights as we’ve traditionally known them. As the digital realm expands to spawn more technological advances like Artificial Intelligence, advocates need to keep up with these advances and be aware of the human rights and socio-political consequences of new technologies. They cannot afford not to, for much is at stake, not least the safety and stability of the nations they call home.

Babatunde is Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative. Email:  babatunde.okunoye@paradigmhq.org 

 

 

Coalition Statement On Emerging Legislations on “Fake News” and Hate Speech in Africa

By | Press Release

We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our concern over the increasing trend of draft legislation on hate speech and “fake news” in the region. Many African governments have begun to draft legislation on these issues without regard to their obligations to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and expression.

Article 19 includes the right to receive and impart, regardless of frontiers, information, and ideas through any media whatsoever. It is our position that the ongoing attempts to regulate the use of social media through overarching draft legislation with broad terms serve to decrease the openness of the internet and these draft legislations mask human rights violations and create barriers to long-term stability and peaceful dialogue.

Nigeria 

There has been an onslaught of anti-democratic draft bills in Nigeria within the past few months. In October, the Nigerian Senate introduced the Communication Service Tax Bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Nigerian Army. The Bill proposes a monthly tax burden on users of electronic communications services including services such as voice calls, SMS, MMS, pay-per-view services, and internet communication services. 

In November, the Senate introduced the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019 sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa. This bill seeks to regulate communications in cyberspace. The Senator mentioned that the Bill is being presented for ‘patriotic Nigerians’ who want peace for the country. The Bill punishes the transmission of false facts online, the provision of services to transmit falsehood, and the failure of firms and telcos to check abuses via their platforms. 

Another Bill that has raised concerns of pro-democratic organizations and citizens alike is The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019 also introduced in November. The Bill seeks to establish an Independent National Commission for Hate Speech, which would be empowered to enforce the laws and advise the federal government. The Bill prescribes a range of punishments including death by hanging for perpetrators of hate speech. The danger of the passage of this bill and the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill is even more amplified by the flagrant treatment of critical or dissident speech as hate speech by government officials in Nigeria. 

Despite strong criticism, Nigeria’s Information minister insists the country will go ahead with proposed social media regulation through amendments to the country’s Broadcasting Code to regulate online mediums. Civil society organizations working in Nigeria have expressed concerns that the ministry is using the broadcasting code, which is secondary legislation as a decoy to avoid public scrutiny on the proposed amendments.

Ethiopia

On the weekend of November 9, 2019, the cabinet of Ethiopia approved a new bill, called the Computer Crime Proclamation Bill that aims to prevent hate speech and dissemination of fake news, and referred the same to the House of Peoples Representatives for approval. The bill has not yet been made public, however, judging from the trend of internet controls in Ethiopia including the history of internet shutdowns, it can be deduced that one of the components that the law will touch on will be speech online including platforms such as Facebook and blogs, among others. Ethiopia is set for elections next year in May, hence the bill may become a weapon to silence dissent. 

Cameroon

At the beginning of the parliamentary session in November 2019, the Cameroonian government presented a bill in parliament that seeks to criminalize hate speech and tribalism. The bill, which criminalises and punishes the act through the amendment of section 241 of the penal code, was tabled Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at the National Assembly for prior consideration. The first paragraph of the Explanatory Memorandum states that “the amendment of this provision is now necessary in order to discourage the rise of hate speech of a tribalist and communitarian nature in the public space, particularly on social media, which endanger peace, security and national cohesion.” 

The Gambia

In The Gambia, while the cabinet responded to criticism and announced the removal of provisions that sought to criminalize insults in its revised criminal offenses bill,  it must also take similar steps to revise the Gambia Media Services Bill, which has been criticized as targeting journalists and their ability to do their work. This must also include every other legislation which emboldened dictatorships in its recent past. The Gambia must not reverse on the gains of its last election and should work with all stakeholders to review its laws in such a way as to emphasize its commitment to strong democratic principles. 

The Way Forward

On July 1, 2016, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in Geneva, in which the Council affirms that human rights that apply in the non-virtual world must be applied with the same strength in cyberspace. Above all, the Council strongly condemns “the intentional measures to prevent or disrupt access or sharing information online.” While hate speech and fake news are global realities, efforts by the State to address the issues must take into consideration, their commitments to human rights obligations. It is imperative that States at this stage respect their obligations to respect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and the press. 

We hereby call on the respective policy-making institutions and agencies in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gambia, Nigeria, and other African countries that are considering similar rights-hurting bills, to take steps to discontinue and drop all draft legislations with provisions that would negatively impact how people participate online and use digital platforms. We encourage States to adopt an open process that accommodates the views of everyone, especially civil society, towards the enactment of new laws or revision of existing ones, and ensure draft legislation does not have the potential to infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. It is important that such proposals must provide for targeted judicial oversight, as safeguards are essential to prevent unaccountable and overzealous censorship.

Also, we call on the United Nations and African regional organizations such as the African Union, African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, and others, to prevail on States to stay true to their commitments to international obligations to protect the rights of their citizens at all times.

Signed

  1. African Academic Network on Internet Policy
  2. African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec)
  3. African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX)
  4. AfroLeadership, Cameroon
  5. Afrotribune, Togo
  6. Ayin Network – Sudan
  7. Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE)
  8. BudgIT Foundation
  9. Center for Media Research – Nepal (CMR-Nepal)
  10. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  11. Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change and the Environment – Sierra Leone (CAN-SL)
  12. Co-Creation Hub
  13. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  14. Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria
  15. Gambia Cyber Security Alliance
  16. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  17. Global Rights
  18. HipCity Innovation Center
  19. Index on Censorship
  20. Information Security for Africa (ISfA)
  21. Institut Panos Grands Lacs
  22. Internet Freedom Foundation
  23. Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan
  24. Internet Sans Frontiers
  25. ISOC Nigeria Chapter
  26. Jamii Forums, Tanzania
  27. KICTANet
  28. Ladies Empowerment Goals and Support Initiative (LEGASI)
  29. Liberia Information Technology student Union
  30. Media Matters for Democracy, Pakistan
  31. Media Monitoring Africa
  32. Media Rights Agenda
  33. Merit Legal Advocacy & Human Rights Initiative (MELAHRI)
  34. Molly Land, Professor of International law and human rights
  35. NetBlocks
  36. Nigeria Youth IGF
  37. Open Net Korea
  38. Paradigm Initiative
  39. PEN America
  40. Praxis Center
  41. Public and Private Development Centre
  42. Rwanda Clubs for Peace Organization
  43. Senegal ICT Users Association
  44. SMEX
  45. Take Back Nigeria Movement (TBN)
  46. TechHer
  47. The Right 2 Know Campaign
  48. Youth Initiative for Africa Development
  49. Digital Africa Research Lab

Template for Writing A Memo on the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132)

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights

To: Senator Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters

The Clerk, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters

From: Name of your organization/coalition/your name

Date: Insert the Date

Subject: Memorandum on the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132)

INTRODUCTION

Name is/are delighted to submit this memorandum ahead of the planned public hearing to discuss the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132) by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. 

A Statement of what you/your organisation does and how it relates to the bill in question. (Your Name)  opposes this bill in its entirety. Our position is that the ongoing process to pass this bill must be discontinued because it is not in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians and we have highlighted the issues below.

Argument 1 

(A sample argument below)

The provision of the bill in Clause 3 contradicts the provision of the Nigerian Constitution in Section 37, which guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The clause makes broad provisions for how speech may be punished and used the term ‘false statement’ very loosely, failing to define what constitutes ‘false statement’ and leaving the determination of what is false to government and its agents alone.  We, therefore, recommend that the entire clause should be removed from the bill. 

Argument 2

(Another  sample argument below)

The bill is built on a false premise, and it seeks to duplicate existing laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There are existing laws such as Cybercrime Act 2015 and Libel laws that address offenses that the Bill seeks to create. We believe that the process of discussing the bill amounts to the waste of time of the Committee and all other stakeholders who have had to commit resources to doing their constitutional duty of engaging with the lawmaking process. Therefore, we join our voice to those of others calling for the withdrawal of this bill from Senate (or any other Chamber’s) consideration, now, or at any time. 

Argument 3

Argument 4…

Conclusion/Recommendation

We hereby conclude and recommend that this bill be thrown out as it does not fit into the ideals of a democratic society. We urge this committee to report back to the Committee of the Whole of the Senate with our recommendation that this bill should not be considered further in order to save this country the needless resources and time that will be spent on this suppressive and anti-people draft legislation. 

Best regards, 

Name of your organization/coalition/your name

—end—

Some Other Memo Examples 

 Joint memo

Organisation memo

Individual Memo 

Read: Submitting A Memo to the  National Assembly, 10 things you must know  

We strongly recommend that you write this memo immediately, given that Public Hearing notices do not usually give adequate time. Feel free to share your sample memo with us via notosocialmediabill@paradigmhq.org or, if you would like us to submit on your behalf during the Public Hearing (in addition to the eMail copy you will send once the Committee provides details), kindly use the same eMail address.

Also, use our Campaign materials available via this link to say no to the The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132)

Say no to the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132)

By | Digital Rights

Millions of Nigeria have spoken. And during the past few days, thousands of citizens have reached out to ask us to challenge the social media bill to keep the Internet free and open in Nigeria. While the calls, emails and letters are flooding, our commitment and advocacy efforts to preserve a free and open internet is unstoppable.

While we have been wary not to comment until we have seen the official copy of the draft bill out of our deep respect for the integrity of our regulatory and administrative process. We can now confirm that we have seen the official copy of the bill and given the high level of attention and the outpouring of the expression on the notice of proposed rule-making on open internet, we felt it was important to highlight the risks of this proposed bill. 

 Please help us share the social media content bellow. We’ve suggested sample text and graphics below.  Share the content with hashtag #SayNoToSocialMediaBill and ensure to submit a memo to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. We have created a template to help those with no previous experience of preparing memo for the Nigerian National Assembly. Please feel free to use this template. 

Tweets

Who decides what is a false statement? Only the government and its agents will decide what statement is false Disagreement with official figures? Criticism? Genuine mistakes will be punished.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132

What is transmission? If you share a joke to your followers, even without an intention to lie, the government can decide you have transmitted a lie and punish you under this bill. Parody accounts, satire, strong opinions and criticism will be punished under this bill. #SayNoToSocialMediaBill  #SayNoToSB132

 Punishments for expressions, government deem to be capable of diminishing public confidence in the discharge of his duties  range from 300,000.00 to 10,000,000.00, 3 years Imprisonment or both—Clause 3 Sub clause 1 (b) #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

 Providing services for the transmission of false statements of fact in Nigeria will punish social media influencers, online publishers, bloggers and fines will be 150,000 0r 2 years imprisonment or both.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132

Sub clause 3 gives government the latitude to use National Security, public safety, public trust, etc. as a basis to increase the punishment to up to 3 years imprisonment or 10 million naira fine. #SayNoToSocialMediaBill  #SayNoToSB132 

Sub Clause 6 says The Law enforcement department may direct the Nigerian Communications Commission to enforce an Access Blocking Order.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Sub clause 4 specifies punishment for service providers that fail to comply. Up to 10 million daily for non-compliance and can go up to “5millon” (An apparent contradiction)  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132. 

You can’t take your matter to court unless you have applied/appeal to the law enforcement department Breach of the right to a fair trial. How can the same agency be an enforcer and also a judge? Secondly, no law should preclude a person from seeking justice in the court of law.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Law enforcement can force internet Service Providers to transmit statements or pieces of information or content to a targeted number of users.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Clause 18: Law enforcement can force intermediaries to disable internet access to its users. This is called a disabling regulation. The section says that once a disabling regulation has been issued a notice must be placed in the gazette. However failure to do this does not invalidate the regulation.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Clause 19: Law enforcement can force media houses and ISPS to transmit statements or pieces of information or content to all of its users. #SayNoToSocialMediaBill  #SayNoToSB132 

Clause 23: The Law enforcement department can direct NCC to inform Internet Access Service Provider to censor. Intermediaries that do not comply can be fined 1Million Naira for every day that they fail to comply up to 10 Million.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Clause 27: Declared Online Location. Target your organisation and put you on a list. You must let your users know that you are on the list (loss of revenue, abrogation of freedom of speech).  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Clause 29: Order to internet Intermediary to disable access to DECLARED online location. Your website can be blocked.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Section 31—Once your platform is listed as declared you are not to make profit from it (so you cannot receive money from advertising, clicks, etc.).  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

Section 33—You cannot provide financial support to a declared website.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132

“The Law enforcement department” is defined in the Interpretation clause (35) as the “Nigerian Police force.” This means that the Nigerian Police will be responsible for administering Part 3–5 of the bill.  #SayNoToSocialMediaBill #SayNoToSB132 

    Infographics

 

 

 

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