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Digital Rights

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

By | 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

 

 

 

Submitting a memo to the  National Assembly, 10 things you must know!

By | Digital Rights, ICT Policy

A guide by Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative

Submitting a memo to the Nigerian National Assembly on a draft legislation can seem like a big deal and we often get tempted to write it like a PhD thesis. However, the key thing is to keep it simple. If you are passionate enough about the issue, you are most likely going to be emotional in your writing. However, to be able to make those arguments count, I have identified 10 simple rules that you must follow based on my experience in working with the Nigeria’s National Assembly.

  1. Have a Strategy:  Having a strategy increases the chance that your memo would be considered and will influence what happens to the legislation by at least 80%. In terms of strategy, an important point to note is that it is not the best strategy for your memo to address every single issue in the draft legislation. It is often more effective to work with coalitions, partners and share responsibility among one another, assigning responsibility to each organisation/partners to speak to/address specific component of the draft legislation. This is mostly applicable when the bill is voluminous. However, some bills aren’t voluminous and it is okay to speak to the entire provision of such bills.
  2. Your memo should be structured:  To make sure your memo is easy to read. Try as much as you can to structure it as you would in an essay. The hint is to use the first paragraph to observe protocols (Address the relevant house leadership and/or the committee chairman and introduce yourself/organisation), you can then proceed to your arguments, using a new paragraph for each clause you want to speak to in the draft legislation(bill).
  3. Make Concise Arguments: Your argument must be concise. You must be able to show why the provision(s) you are speaking to/against is/are problematic in a direct way without writing long essays. The memos are mostly reviewed by the consultant to the committee working with the clerk and they are usually overwhelmed by the amount of documents they have to review. Bear in mind that hundreds, maybe thousands of other memos will be submitted (especially when the bill is a public interest one). Therefore, to make yours stand out, you must apply arguments that are straight to the point.
  4. You must be specific: Your submission has to speak directly to the content of the draft legislation (The Bill) for which a public hearing is being held. You have to be specific in mentioning the provision(s) you are speaking to. You must also identify the clause number and sub clause number as the case may be. Mention the clause, identify the problem(s) with it, and proceed to make your points about it.
  5. Referencing laws, International Instruments to bolster your argument; When you identify a clause you consider problematic, one of the best ways to drive your argument home is to reference already existing laws or International treaties that Nigeria is a party to. In this regard, always bear in mind that the strongest argument is usually the one supported by the Nigerian Constitution. As much as possible, link you argument to the Nigerian constitution, relevant Nigerian laws and applicable international instruments in that order.
  6. Avoid Name calling, Biases/Sentiments; Name calling is not a strategy. Irrespective of what you know about the sponsor, promoter or supporters of the bill, you must stick to the issues and not be seen as attacking other people’s personalities. Your writing must be as objective as possible, devoid of ethnic, religious or other biases.
  7. Support Your Argument with Recommendations: On each clause or subclause you speak to in your memo, you must recommend either an amendment to it or that the clause/sub clause be expunged totally. If you speak on a clause for example, you must recommend either of the following; i. Alternative wording ii. Revised texts or iii. That the texts be totally deleted.
  8. General Recommendation/Conclusion: In your last paragraph, you must make a general recommendation on the entire bill. Your recommendation can be any of the following; i. That the bill been thrown out in its entirety ii. That the bill be revised with the recommendations you have proposed in each of your arguments in the body of the memo or iii. That the bill be adopted as it is.
  9. Contact Information: Make sure to include your contact information. The committee may elect to reach out to you to clarify what they deem ambiguous in your submissions. Also, the committee often store such contact information in their database and ensures you/your organisation gets invited to submit a memo/attend a public hearing on subsequent related issues to the one for which you are submitting a memo.
  10. Some Technical Details: If you reference any authority or an academic work, do not forget to add a footnote and reference accordingly. Note that the word ‘section’ applies to laws that have been duly passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President. The contents of a bill are called ‘clauses’. Also, check for the actual name of the bill you are writing a memo on. Bills usually have short and long titles and assigned numbers (e.g SB132, HB98 i.e Senate Bill 132, House Bill 98). For example, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, 2019 (HB98) is the short title for “A Bill For An Act To Provide For The Protection Of  Human Rights Online, To Protect Internet Users In Nigeria From Infringement Of Their Fundamental Freedoms And To Guarantee Application Of Human Rights For Users Of Digital Platforms And/Digital Media And For Related Matters, 2019”. 

    While the The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, 2019 (SB 132) is the short title for “A Bill for an Act for Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other Related Matters Bill, 2019 ( SB 132)”. Phrases such as “Digital RIghts Bill”, “Social Media Bill” are deployed to simplify the nomenclature and make it relatable to the public. Always check for the proper name for each draft legislation on the National Assembly’s website or through the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) website.

 

Tanzanian Parliament Passes Digital Rights-Hurting Amendments Despite Pushback by Civil Society Organizations

By | Digital Rights, Press Release

On June 27, 2019 the Tanzanian parliament passed into law amendments to the Written Laws despite pushback from civil society and human rights defenders. The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 3 of 2019) Bill was made public on June 19 under a “certificate of urgency” to speed up its passage. The discussions concerning the bill began in Parliament on June 21, 2019. Members of civil society raised their concerns over the short notice to provide feedback on the Bill on the morning of June 21. ‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a digital rights organisation working in the region, stated that “Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) urged that if this bill was to be passed it would restrict the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, placing impermissible restrictions on civil society organisations’ operations’’.

The laws proposed to be amended included the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2002 (NGOs Act), Society Act, Trustees and Incorporations Act and The Companies Act 2002 among others. These four laws are among the main laws which govern Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Tanzania hence raising concerns over whether this was targeted as well as the previous laws to further compress democracy in Tanzania. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs Paradigm Initiative, noted, “On June 21 and 22, 2019, some CSOs managed to submit their views before Parliamentary committees in Dodoma. However yesterday the Parliament passed it with only a handful of recommendations being carried forward’’.

The role of Civil Society in fostering development and protecting human rights can not be underestimated. CSO’s have not only provided jobs but have contributed to positive development in various sectors of the economy and wellbeing of the nation. In a statement issued by the Tanzania Human rights defenders coalition (THRDC) along with over 300 other CSO’s, the urgency of passing this bill did not give reasonable time for the public to comprehend the implications of such a law. In attempts to push back, movements such as Change Tanzania published an online petition to collect signatures to lobby the parliament to give more time for comments before passing. However despite collection of over 900 signatures in a span of two days, the petition fell on deaf ears.

There are some positive aspects to the amendments such as the Statistics Act now giving room for due process, as well decriminalizing publishing of statistics data. However, the National Bureau of Statistics still has the final say on the approval of statistics. A post on Instagram by THRDC said that “The government has agreed to put in place procedures for compliance for companies and NGO’s, make amendments to the definition of NGO, Amendments of section 26 which was to give the registrar powers to suspend an NGO Pending determination by the board and monitor and evaluate NGO’s on a quarterly basis’’. Other sections include section 27 and 28 which covers deregistration of NGO’s which fail to comply within the time frame of 2 months. However, it is still unclear which of the specific recommendations from stakeholders have been taken into account when making amendments under the provisions highlighted.

The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, added, “The country has passed a series of oppressive laws in a short span of slightly over a year when they first released the changes to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) in March last year’’. This was followed by amendments to the Statistical Act and then the Political Parties Act that was passed earlier this year as well, not giving enough time for concrete responses from stakeholders. While the county is approaching elections, the role of civil society at this crucial time is jeopardized.

For the citizens of Tanzania there’s no safe space both offline and online. With content online subject to fall under the Cybercrime Act or seen as a violation of EPOCA there’s no room to express views. With the coming in of such new laws Civil society that have been working towards seeking redress and legal strategies to protect human rights including digital rights are left exposed.The role CSO’s have of building communities of trust both offline and online and keeping citizens engaged in matters of direct concern via media and other means will also be challenged. The possibility of some NGOs failing to comply with new laws will make the struggle to protect civic spaces an even more challenging battle.

This law that was just passed will join the other laws such as the EPOCA, Political Parties Act and Cybercrime Act that have established clear boundaries and leave little room to hold the government accountable and to criticize it. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative continued, “We urge that proactive measures be taken to protect the existence of vibrant civil societies that play a role in creating peaceful and equal societies. We implore the government of Tanzania to ensure the stability and openness of democratic and civic spaces in Tanzania by respecting and protecting the role of civil society as a key player in the promotion of democratic ideals”.

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.

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

 

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.

Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum to Host Delegates from 38 Countries in Lagos

By | Digital Rights, Press Release

The seventh edition of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) will host delegates from 38 countries to deliberate on issues confronting the digital space in Africa. This is according to a press statement by Paradigm Initiative, the organiser of the conference of the 3-day conference. The Forum took off today in Lagos and will run until Thursday, April 25.

According to the statement, DRIF19 will welcome delegates from civil society, academia, media, technical community, government- including security agencies, judiciary, and legislature, and the private sector, from 32 countries in Africa, and 6 countries outside the continent. The Forum will also be live-streamed to a global online audience here, while those interested in monitoring conversations at the Forum can follow its hashtag, #DRIF19.

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “formerly known as the Internet Freedom Forum, DRIF has become well known for its track record of tangible actionable outcomes and has gained a reputation as an important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped, and policy directions forged. The broad categories of participants expected are state actors, civil society organizations, academia, human rights activists, technology entrepreneurs, gender activists, as well as policy enthusiasts and actors within the global internet governance space.”

DRIF features engaging conversations which draw on globally relevant issues, as well as Africa-specific challenges and opportunities. Panellists and participants are drawn based on a multi-stakeholder model, allowing stakeholders who have hitherto operated in silos to talk to one other about common challenges.

“For the first time, the Forum this year will focus considerably on digital inclusion conversations as the basis for digital rights, on a continent where internet penetration is lowest and the opportunities which ICTs provide remain elusive to many. This year’s edition will also feature more side sessions, allow for bilingual communication and participation as it has done since 2017, and encourage post-event collaborations to further strengthen the discourse of Internet Freedom in Africa,” Ogundipe added.

Speakers expected at the conference include Albert Antwi Boasiako, Ghana’s National Cybersecurity Advisor, Segun Mausi, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Africa Division, Hawa Ba, Head of the Senegal Country Office, Open Society for West Africa, and Lanre Osibona, Special Advisor on ICT to the President of Nigeria. Others are Dr Ernest Ndukwe, former Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Robert Muthuri of Strathmore University, and Onica Makwakwa, A4AI Africa Regional Coordinator

The Forum is expected to refocus attention on issues confronting the digital space on a continent where human rights online are routinely violated.

Paradigm Initiative Releases 2018 Annual Report, Demonstrates Impact

By | Digital Rights, Echoes From Life, Press Release

The social enterprise, Paradigm Initiative has released its 2018 annual report. The report provides insight into the work of the organisation, especially in how it lives up to its mission of improving the “livelihoods of underserved youths”.

Featured in the annual report is Joy Ukpong, an alumna of the group’s free digital inclusion program. At the time of joining the program, 27-year old Joy Ukpong’s income was N10,000 a month as a  struggling hairdresser in Ajegunle, Lagos. She was desperate for a break, and Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Inclusion program gave her the break which she wisely seized, learning relevant digital and life skills.

Few weeks after the conclusion of the 10-week training, Ukpong got a job as an administrative assistant at a law firm. Her income immediately jumped to N25,000. Thanks to her new skills, Ukpong has a more stable income and work structure that allows her to develop herself.

Her story, according to Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer, Sodiq Alabi, “is another proof that our investment in digital inclusion programs in underserved communities is indeed improving the livelihood of the beneficiaries.”

The Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan also said, “As a result of the year’s investment in under-served Nigerian youth, we were able to train 869 students through the 10-week LIFE program, LIFE@School Club and the quarterly workshops. 150 students got internships, picked up jobs, earned enough to return to school, joined apprenticeship programs and/or started micro businesses. During the year, the average income among our students grew from N4,805.15 to N23,083.25!”

Highlighting the group’s work in digital rights, Sesan said “In 2018, our Digital Rights work covered Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. We hosted 13 training programs, reviewed 36 policy documents, produced 12 research-based reports, acted on 20 digital rights violations, and led 4 litigation processes.”

The Director of Programs, Tope Ogundipe said the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria is an important milestone for the group in 2018. The Bill, which was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 5 2019, has been a major project of the group since 2014 when it began advocacy for the passage of a law dedicated to the protection of online rights and freedoms.

Paradigm Initiative, which was founded in Nigeria in 2007, is physically present in five African countries, from where it executes programs across the continent.  The group said its new Strategic Management Plan (2019-2023) would even see it do more over the next few years.

Protect Press Freedom, Paradigm Initiative Urges Ugandan Government

By | Digital Rights

Paradigm Initiative condemns the actions of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) which ordered the immediate suspension of a news website published by Monitor Publications Limited.

As reported by Committee to Protect Journalists, the Monitor group came under investigation following claims by the Speaker of the Uganda parliament which accused the paper of publishing fake news. The UCC claimed the news site was unlicensed. The issued notice by UCC on registration of online content providers was issued last year in March.

The case of the Daily Monitor highlights the many attempts and actions that are stifling press freedom within Uganda and Africa overall. On the day the news site suspension was ordered, BBC investigative journalists were arrested on the ground of illegal possession of restricted drugs during an undercover investigation of the black market of medicine in Uganda.

Arrest, closure and even physical abuse are often used as a means of suppressing and threatening the exercising of a free press in Uganda. Last year a number of journalists were beaten and their equipment damaged. On August 23, 2018, the police brutally attacked and damaged tools of journalists who were covering protests for the release of Bobi Wine. The plight of the press in Uganda is dire as the Ugandan president of Uganda has openly threatened and accused them of defamation and incitement.

Paradigm Initiative’s Google Policy for East Africa, Rebecca Ryakitimbo said, “We urge the government of Uganda to review repressive laws such as Anti-Terrorism Act 2002, the Press and Journalism Act 1995, and the Public Order Management Act 2013 among others that hinder a free press.Without a free press, society is doomed to suffer from misinformation and the media ecosystem is further oppressed with only a handful of players making it a scene of the chosen few and crime to the masses.”

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