Category

Digital Rights

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.

 

 

 

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.

Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship 2020

By | Digital Rights

The application process is now open for the third edition of the Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship.

The Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion Media Fellowship 2020 seeks to embed media professionals within the daily work of Paradigm Initiative in the fields of digital rights and digital inclusion in Africa. Starting from April 2020, Media Fellows will work out of our offices in Nigeria (Lagos, Aba, Abuja and Kano), and will get a chance to work with our teams in Yaoundé (Cameroon), Lusaka (Zambia), Democratic Republic of Congo, and Accra (Ghana).  Applications are open to Journalists working in Africa.

The fellowship seeks to expose media professionals to an underreported field of work in national/regional development and hopes to increase reporting on digital rights and inclusion in Africa. Selected media professionals must be available to travel to Nigeria for two weeks (2) in April and May 2020 and also available for  four (4) months virtual collaboration (April 2020 to August 2020).

Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship is a 5-month program designed to immerse outstanding mid-career journalists in digital rights and digital inclusion advocacy – and intervention efforts – in Africa. Selected journalists will work with Paradigm Initiative on various projects and contribute to improving public understanding of digital rights and inclusion issues in Africa.

Components of the fellowship

  • Fully-funded trip to attend the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2020.
  • Digital Rights/Inclusion training at the Paradigm Initiative headquarters in Lagos (Nigeria), in addition to communication with team members from other offices in Africa.
  • Fully-funded 2-week residency program to visit Paradigm Initiative offices in Nigeria (Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Aba).
  • 4-month virtual training and collaboration with Paradigm Initiative and partners.
  • Fellowship may also include fully-funded local and international travels to participate in and cover relevant events related to Digital Rights and Inclusion.
  • Interaction with leading stakeholders in digital rights advocacy.
  • Paradigm Initiative will provide fellows with a monthly stipend, and a one-time research grant, during the fellowship period.

Expectations

  • Fellows will be expected to participate in all scheduled activities.
  • Fellows will be expected to publish, in their affiliated media (Print, TV, Radio, Online), at least 15 reports on digital rights and inclusion issues during the fellowship period. Fellows will retain full editorial direction on the stories.
  • Fellows will be expected to continue to provide coverage to digital rights and inclusion issues after their fellowship.

Requirements

  • The Fellowship is open to journalists affiliated with mainstream print and online newspapers in Africa.
  • Interested candidates must demonstrate previous coverage of human rights and/or tech issues and interest in advocacy journalism.
  • Interested candidates must not have spent more than ten years in journalism. We are most interested in outstanding, early career journalists.

How to apply

Fill the application FORM before 15th February 2020.  

For More Information:

 Visit the official website of the Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship 2020 or contact media@paradigmhq.org.


 

Bourse ‘Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020’ pour les journalistes Africains (Entièrement financé)

La bourse ‘Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020’  vise à impliquer les professionnels de médias dans le travail quotidien de Paradigm Initiative dans les domaines des droits numériques et de l’inclusion numérique en Afrique.

A partir d’avril 2020, les boursiers sélectionnés travailleront dans nos bureaux au Nigeria (Lagos Aba, Abuja et Kano), au Cameroun (Yaoundé),  en Zambie (Lusaka), en République Démocratique du Congo ou encore au Ghana (Accra). Les candidatures sont ouvertes aux journalistes travaillant pour des médias en Afrique.

 Cette bourse vise à exposer les professionnels des médias aux domaines des droits numériques et de l’inclusion numérique qui sont généralement sous-estimés dans le développement des pays africains. L’objectif est de faire augmenter le nombre de reportages ou de publications journalistiques  sur ces domaines en Afrique.

Les professionnels des médias sélectionnés doivent être disponibles pour  un voyage de deux (2) semaines au Nigeria et une collaboration virtuelle entre avril 2020 et août 2020.

La bourse ‘Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020’ est un programme de 5 mois conçu pour l’immersion des journalistes en milieu de carrière aux efforts de plaidoyer – et d’intervention – en faveur des droits numériques et de l’inclusion numérique en Afrique. 

Les journalistes sélectionnés travailleront avec Paradigm Initiative sur divers projets et contribueront à améliorer la compréhension du public sur les questions de droits numériques et d’inclusion en Afrique.

Les composantes de la bourse

  • Voyage entièrement financé pour assister au Forum sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion (DRIF) d’Afrique à Abuja, au Nigeria, en avril 2020.
  • Formation sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion au siège de Paradigm Initiative à Lagos (Nigeria) avec des membres de l’équipe d’autres bureaux en Afrique.
  • Programme de résidence de 2 semaines entièrement financé pour visiter les bureaux de Paradigm Initiative au Nigeria (Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Aba).
  • Formation virtuelle de 4 mois et collaboration avec Paradigm Initiative et ses partenaires.
  • La bourse peut également inclure des voyages locaux et internationaux entièrement financés pour participer à des événements pertinents liés aux droits numériques et à l’inclusion et les couvrir.
  • Interaction avec les principales parties prenantes dans la défense des droits numériques.
  • Paradigm Initiative fournira aux boursiers une allocation mensuelle et une subvention de recherche unique pendant la durée de la bourse.

 Les Attentes

  •  Il est attendu des boursiers une participation obligatoire à toutes les activités prévues
  • Les boursiers devront publier, dans leurs médias affiliés (presse écrite, télévision, radio, Internet) au moins 15 éléments (Articles de fonds, Reportages etc,)  sur les droits numériques et les questions d’inclusion pendant la durée de la bourse. Les boursiers conserveront la direction éditoriale complète de ces reportages.
  • Les boursiers devront continuer à couvrir les questions de droits numériques et d’inclusion après leur stage.

Exigences

  • La bourse est ouverte aux journalistes affiliés aux principaux journaux imprimés et en ligne en Afrique
  • Les candidats intéressés doivent démontrer qu’ils ont déjà couvert des questions de droits de la personne et/ou de technologie et qu’ils s’intéressent au journalisme de plaidoyer.
  • Les candidats intéressés doivent avoir moins de dix ans d’expérience dans le journalisme. Nous sommes surtout intéressés par des journalistes en début de carrière

Comment postuler ?

Soumettez votre candidature dès maintenant pour la bourse Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020 avant le 15 février 2020 á travers ce FORMULAIRE 

Pour plus d’informations :

Visitez la page Web officielle de la bourse Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020 ou contactez media@paradigmhq.org.  

 

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 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

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