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ICT Policy

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.

 

Le Bénin à l’épreuve de la démocratie, les leçons de la répression numérique  

By | ICT Policy, Internet Freedom

Auteur: Emmanuel Vitus

Dimanche 28 avril 2019, les Béninois étaient convoqués aux urnes pour désigner leurs parlementaires. Le scrutin s’est déroulé dans un climat de tension, car le 05 mars 2019, la Commission Électorale Nationale Autonome (CENA) avait invalidé les dossiers de candidature de tous les partis politiques de l’opposition sauf le Bloc Républicain et le l’Union Progressiste, deux regroupements politiques proches du président Patrice Talon.

Pour la première fois depuis 1990, le Bénin a organisé une élection sans l’opposition. Et pourtant le pays est considéré comme le champion de l’alternance politique et de la démocratie en Afrique de l’Ouest. Les manifestations des partis politiques de l’opposition pour un report des législatives du 28 avril n’ont pas fait fléchir les autorités béninoises. Il est reproché aux partis politiques de l’opposition de n’avoir pas répondu aux exigences du nouveau code électoral.

À ce climat de tension, s’est ajouté dans la journée du 28 avril 2019, la coupure de l’Internet. En effet à partir de 1h du matin, les internautes avaient du mal à se connecter aux réseaux sociaux Facebook et Twitter notamment. L’internet mobile sera complètement coupé par la suite et ne sera rétabli que le lendemain.

Pour l’heure, les autorités béninoises n’ont donné aucune explication à cette situation, mais dans la presse locale béninoise, on évoque, des mesures préventives « pour éviter des appels à la violence le jour du scrutin législatif. »

L’opérateur de téléphonie mobile, MTN Bénin, reconnaît de son côté la coupure de l’Internet dans la journée du 28 avril tout en déclinant sa responsabilité.

« Effectivement, nous avons opt connu des soucis concernant la connexion Internet dans la journée d’hier. (…) Toutefois, le souci était indépendant de notre volonté », peut-on lire sur le compte Twitter du fournisseur d’accès Internet.

Un test pour la démocratie béninoise

Avec plus d’une dizaine de fournisseurs d’accès Internet, le Bénin fait partie des bons élèves en matière de démocratisation de l’internet. En 2017, l’Alliance pour l’Internet abordable (A4AI) a classé le Bénin parmi les 10 pays du continent africain à avoir un accès facile à l’Internet.

Selon A4AI, cette hausse est due non pas à la mise en place d’une réforme majeure unique, mais au simple fait, par exemple, que le régulateur donne plus d’informations sur les règlements et décisions, sur la transparence des tarifs.

Et pourtant depuis 2018, les autorités béninoises prennent des décisions qui restreignent la liberté d’expression sur Internet. Le 25 juillet 2018, le gouvernement a pris un décret portant introduction d’une contribution sur la consommation des services de communications électroniques fournis par les réseaux ouverts au public.

Concrètement, il s’agit d’une taxe de 5 FCFA par mégaoctet pour l’accès aux services over-the-top (OTT). Les services OTT (ou services de contournement en français), sont l’ensemble des services qui permettent de transporter des flux audio, vidéo ou des données Internet sur les réseaux Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype et autres, sans l’intervention d’un opérateur de téléphonie traditionnel.

« Le coût change pour les réseaux sociaux et pour des usages ludiques. Vous téléchargez de la musique, un film, vous faites des transferts d’images qui critiquent le gouvernement (…) vous payez le prix qui est légèrement plus fort », avait soutenu Romuald Wadagni, ministre de l’Économie, des Finances et des Programmes de dénationalisation du Bénin.

Face à la colère des internautes, le gouvernement est revenu sur sa décision le 22 septembre 2019. Il explique ce rétropédalage par plusieurs raisons notamment, « les perturbations techniques (…) la rupture de l’économie globale du secteur, au détriment des consommateurs, en particulier les plus modestes et l’entrave à “la démocratisation de l’Internet”.

Naissance du Web-activisme

La coupure d’internet le 28 avril 2019, a cristallisé la colère des internautes, des organisations de la société civile et de la communauté internationale.

Ramanou Biaou, le président du chapitre béninois de Internet Society (ISOC Bénin) dans un entretien accordé à la chaîne étatique allemande Deutsche Welle, déplore les effets néfastes de cette coupure d’internet sur les activités économiques au Bénin.

“À travers les réseaux sociaux, il y a des entreprises qui mettent sur le marché des services, des produits, des solutions. Commencer à restreindre ces réseaux sociaux, cela a forcément un impact qui va au-delà de l’aspect économique. C’est d’une façon ou d’une autre une restriction de la liberté d’expression qui a été prise contre les Béninois ce 28 avril », dénonce-t-il.

Même son de cloche chez Amnesty International. Pour l’organisation internationale de défense des droits de l’homme la décision de couper l’accès à Internet et aux réseaux sociaux le jour du scrutin est une violation directe du droit à la liberté d’expression.

‘Dans la pratique, cela réduit au silence les défenseurs des droits humains, les journalistes et les blogueurs qui observent ces élections parlementaires contestées, sans candidats de l’opposition’, déplore François Patuel, chercheur sur l’Afrique de l’Ouest à Amnesty International.

En 2018, la tentative de taxation de la connection aux réseaux sociaux avait contribué à la naissance d’influents web activistes. Sur Twitter, l’hastag #TaxePasMesMO avait été repris dans des milliers de tweets contraignant les autorités béninoises à revoir leur copie. Depuis dimanche, les activistes se font entendre à nouveau, cette fois avec des hastags comme #BeninShutDown, #BeninBlackout et #KeepIton en référence à la coalition de de lutte contre les coupures d’Internet à travers le monde.

Quid d’une répression numérique en Afrique Francophone ?

Si au Bénin c’est la première fois que les internautes subissent la coupure d’Internet, en Afrique francophone, la pratique devient courante. Le Tchad fait partie des pays africains qui pratiquent une censure drastique de l’Internet. Depuis un an, les Tchadiens n’ont plus normalement accès aux réseaux sociaux Facebook, Twitter et aux messageries WhatsApp et Viber.

« Cette censure est d’autant plus insupportable que les gens ne savent pas pourquoi ils n’ont plus la possibilité d’utiliser normalement les réseaux sociaux », s’indigne Julie Owono, directrice exécutive d’Internet sans frontières.

Au Cameroun, les autorités ont coupé Internet au Nord-ouest et au sud-ouest du pays en avril et octobre 2017. Ces deux régions qui réclament leur autonomie sont le théâtre de violents combats  entre les séparatistes et l’armée régulière camerounaise. Le 15 janvier, une ONG camerounaise Réseau de Défenseurs des Droits Humains de l’Afrique Centrale (Redhac) avait porté plainte contre l’État camerounais devant le Conseil constitutionnel pour le rétablissement d’Internet dans les deux régions précitées. Une plainte similaire a été portée contre les opérateurs de téléphonie mobile en RD Congo.

Début septembre, l’internet a été intentionnellement perturbé par les autorités togolaises à chaque manifestation de l’opposition politique. Les experts de Netblocks, une ONG basée à Londres estime que chaque journée sans Internet au Togo fait perdre 243 507 dollars au pays.

Parmi les mauvais élèves de la classe, figure également l’Algérie. Plusieurs cas de coupure d’internet ont été enregistrés dans le pays, mais à chaque fois, l’opérateur proche du gouvernement, Algérie Telecom, dément une coupure volontaire.

Sur le continent, d’autres pays comme le Sénégal et le Burkina Faso sont à féliciter en matière de démocratisation de l’Internet. En 2014 lors du soulèvement des Burkinabés pour exiger et obtenir le départ de l’ancien président Blaise Compaoré, aucune coupure d’Internet n’a été signalée malgré la situation politique tendue. Même tendance au Sénégal où lors de la dernière élection présidentielle tous les signaux laissaient prétendre une probable coupure.

L’espoir est permis

Les coupures sont désormais utilisées par les gouvernements comme des moyens de musellement des peuples souvent au prétexte de protéger l’ordre public et de contrôler les excès  sur les réseaux sociaux.

Au vu des tendances actuelles en Afrique Francophone, l’avenir du réseau internet reste incertain.

La situation au Cameroun, en Algérie, au Togo, en RDC et au Tchad permet d’établir un lien étroit entre les soulèvements populaires et le taux de connexion de ces pays. Ainsi, depuis le Printemps arabe, il est tentant de faire un lien direct entre la capacité d’un peuple à renverser un dictateur et le nombre de personnes connectées à Internet.

Photo Credit: RFI

Tous les régimes totalitaires ont compris donc l’importance de maîtriser le web. Bâillonner le web devient ainsi le rêve de toute dictature. Mais un rêve impossible.  Au Togo, au Benin comme partout ailleurs, les internautes déjouent la censure en passant par des proxys ou en utilisant des connexions bas débit. Des activistes proposent, eux, des passerelles fax et VPN. Des blogs expliquent également comment contourner le blocage.

Avec les élections locales, législatives et présidentielles à venir dans plusieurs pays en Afrique francophone, il est important pour les gouvernements d’ouvrir des débats multipartites sur la gestion et la gouvernance de l’Internet, car ces perturbations volontaires violent explicitement les droits humains protégés notamment par une résolution adoptée à l’unanimité le 1ᵉʳ juillet 2016 par le Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies.

Emmanuel Vitus est Chercheur et Google Policy Fellow chez Paradigm Initiative.

CSOs, Nigerians Urge President Buhari to Sign Digital Rights Bill

By | Digital Rights, ICT Policy

Abuja, Nigeria

The National Assembly on Tuesday February 5 transmitted the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent. The Bill, which had been in Parliament since 2016, was passed by both chambers of the Parliament in 2018.

Paradigm Initiative, a social enterprise that has led the advocacy campaign in support of the bill, commended the National Assembly and urged President Buhari to immediately sign the Bill into law. This is according to a statement signed by its Communications Officer, Sodiq Alabi.

According to ‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director, “We are happy the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill has now been transmitted to President Buhari. Mr President now has a unique opportunity to position Nigeria as a leader in rights-respecting laws in Africa by signing the Bill into law.”

Yemi Adamolekun, the Executive Director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, said, “It is significant that the gesture is happening on a day globally celebrated as the Safer Internet Day. There is now global attention on Nigeria to finish the important work it started by signing the Bill into law.”

The Africa Regional Coordinator of Web Foundation, Nnenna Nwakanma also added, “As the World Wide Web turns 30, Nigerians can not wait any longer for digital rights, freedoms and opportunities. The President’s Assent is urgently needed to secure fundamental rights, to support a stronger digital economy, and to build a more secure internet.”

The President will have 30 days from the day it receives the communication from the National Assembly to assent to the Bill.

Speaking on the development, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager, Boye Adegoke said, “To its credit, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has signed some landmark Bills such as the Not too young to run Bill and the Disability Bill.”

“If signed, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill will add to what appears to be a forward-looking disposition of the Administration to policymaking. What President Muhammadu Buhari does with the Bill will go a long way to define the administration’s disposition towards technology and its viability in improving the economic base of Nigeria,” Adegoke said.

A digital rights advocate and lawyer, Tomiwa Ilori characterised the bill as a potpourri of protected freedoms in the digital age. “Nigeria will be at the cusp of history for being the first country to pass such comprehensive law with respect to securing human rights for the future. We have a golden opportunity of resetting digital policy across the board for human rights, we should take it,” Ilori said.

Commenting on the importance of the Bill, Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists said, “this Bill shows that it is possible for African governments to write regulations and laws that work for, not against, journalists. President Muhammadu Buhari should prove his commitment to Nigerian leadership on digital rights in Africa by signing the bill into law before the election on February 16.”


For more information on this statement, please contact Sodiq Alabi, Communications Officer, via media@paradigmhq.org.

La société civile s’inquiète des perturbations persistantes de Internet au Tchad

By | ICT Policy, Internet Freedom

La société civile s’inquiète des perturbations persistantes de Internet au Tchad

République du Tchad,
Gouvernement de la République du Tchad,

Nous, Organisations signataires, sommes profondément préoccupées par les multiples perturbations des services Internet au Tchad.

En effet, le 25 janvier 2018, les autorités tchadiennes ont arrêté Internet avant les manifestations prévues par des groupes de la société civile et des syndicats du pays. Depuis mars 2018, les communications électroniques ont été fortement perturbées, ce qui a eu des conséquences sur la vie sociale des Tchadiens. Les interruptions des médias sociaux telles que WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube et Skype ont été régulières et visent à entraver les communications entre les personnes et à limiter la liberté d’expression. En outre, en cas d’interruption de l’Internet, les journalistes et les utilisateurs des médias ne peuvent pas communiquer avec les sources et recueillir des informations sans les outils de communication numérique.

Les signataires de cette déclaration condamnent fermement le blocage continu, volontaire ou involontaire d’Internet au Tchad; rappelle au gouvernement tchadien que de tels actes violent les dispositions pertinentes de la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme(DUDH), du Pacte International relatif aux Droits Civils et Politiques (PIDCP), du Pacte International relatif aux Droits Économiques, Sociaux et Culturels (PIDESC), de la Charte des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (Charte africaine), de la Déclaration des Principes sur la Liberté d’Expression en Afrique et d’autres lois dont le gouvernement tchadien est signataire et partie. Les fermetures d’Internet entraînent également des pertes économiques pour l’économie locale, perturbant les entreprises et d’autres activités commerciales. Selon NetBlocks, une plate-forme qui évalue l’impact économique des fermetures d’Internet, le coût d’une journée de fermeture d’Internet au Tchad est estimé à 694 589 dollars US. C’est donc un meilleur intérêt pour les Tchadiens et le gouvernement Tchadiens de garder Internet ouvert, afin d’éviter une hémorragie de sa propre économie et de protéger les libertés civiles.

Les signataires de cette déclaration demandent au gouvernement tchadien de :

i) rétablir immédiatement tous les réseaux de communication sur l’ensemble du territoire national, tout en modernisant l’infrastructure de télécommunication pour un service Internet à faible coût ;

(ii) respecter les droits numériques des utilisateurs d’Internet dans le pays ;

(iii) reconnaître la résolution des Nations Unies sur la Promotion, la Protection et la Jouissance des Droits de l’Homme sur Internet A / HRC / 32 / L.20 ;

(iv) s’engager à respecter la résolution 362 (LIX) 2016 de la Commission africaine sur le “droit à la liberté d’expression et d’information sur Internet en Afrique » ;

(v) respecter le contenu et l’esprit de la Déclaration africaine des droits de l’Internet et des libertés ;

(vi) respecter les principes de la gouvernance de l’Internet et du contrat pour le Web ;

(vii) renforcer la promotion et faciliter l’accès illimité à Internet pour assurer le développement économique du pays ;

(viii) réduire les prix exorbitants des communications électroniques ;

(ix) respecter les normes internationales sur les droits humains en ligne et hors ligne.

Les signataires demandent enfin au gouvernement tchadien de mettre fin à toutes les violations des droits numériques dans le pays, de continuer à rendre Internet accessible de manière continue et de ne pas porter atteinte aux droits des citoyens tout en réparant les dommages causés aux utilisateurs d’Internet.

 

Les signataires

Paradigm Initiative

The NetBlocks Group

AccessNow

Internet Sans Frontières

CIPESA

OpenNetAfrica

Rudi International (DRC)

PEN America

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Sassoufit Collective

PACT (Projet pour une Alternance Crédible au Tchad)

League of African Bloggers and Cyber-activists for Democracy – AFRICTIVISTES

Open Net Korea

INTIC4DEV

The World Wide Web Foundation

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)  

AfroLeadership

Rwanda Youth Clubs for Peace Organization

Senegalese Association of ICT Users (ASUTIC)

AFROTRIBUNE (Togo)

 

 

Lagos, 18 janvier 2019

Le Collectif tous pour All For Digital Rights Cameroon

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy, Internet Freedom

Le Collectif tous pour All For Digital Rights Cameroon a organisé à Yaoundé au Cameroun le 20 octobre 2018, une session d’information sur les droits numériques. Cette session d’information intervient au lendemain de l’élection présidentielle du 7 octobre 2018.

La session de formation a été principalement animé par Rigobert Kenmogne, Google Policy Fellow, par ailleurs point focal de Paradigm Initiative au Cameroun et Afrique francophone. Il a d’abord présenté les activités de Paradigm Initiative au Cameroun ces derniers mois avant d’échanger avec les participants sur les « instruments et les acteurs des droits numériques du pays ». On retient dans sa communication que le Cameroun a connu trois périodes importantes pour son développement numérique, avec des instruments politico juridiques qui interagissent entre cinq parties prenantes à savoir le gouvernement, la société civile, le secteur privé, les communautés techniques et les organisations internationales. A ces parties prenantes s’ajoutent des acteurs multiformes.

L’intérêt de cette session d’information a été aussi celui de présenter le paysage juridique et législatif dans lequel le consommateur Camerounais jouit du service Internet. Une action s’inscrit dans la dynamique d’un plaidoyer devant aboutir à l’adoption d’un texte de lois plus spécifique sur les droits numériques, donc l’usage fait déjà partir du quotidien des Camerounais.

Ce projet fait partie des activités financées par Internews au Cameroun avec le soutien technique de Afroleadership est le résultat des séries formations menées par Paradigm Initiative au Cameroun en 2018. Les acteurs de la société civile actifs sur des questions numériques travaillent aussi pour faire asseoir une coalition capable de répondre aux préoccupations liées aux droits numériques.

Le chef du projet Ernest Yene, a salué la participation des journalistes, des webactivistes et autres utilisateurs des TIC. Une reconnaissance aussi à l’endroits des ONG qui travaillent pour la promotion des droits numériques au Cameroun

My Google Policy Fellowship Story – By Ajuwon Adenike

By | ICT Policy

“It is through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve mapped our path” – Michael Dell

A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME

On the 25th of July, 2017, a friend sent me a direct message on Twitter with the link to the Google Policy Fellowship posted on the Paradigm Initiative‘s website. I was preparing for the first semester examinations in my final year at the University of Ibadan Nigeria at the time and I remember telling him I would check it out after the exams so I could give my all to my application.

My exams came to an end, and I turned my focus to the fellowship application. I went through the requirements and I chose the African Academic Network on Internet Policy as the host organization I would love to work in for two reasons. Firstly, the host organisation is based in Ibadan and I school and live in Ibadan. Secondly, the fellowship’s thematic focus included intellectual property, privacy and security, all areas that interested me. I was working on my research on ‘Intellectual Property Laws in Nigeria and Digital Media Technologies; A Copyright Perspective’ at the time I applied and this fit right in.

THE SELECTION PROCESS

The recruitment process was seamless. I applied online, the host organisation sent me a mail with some forms attached and a date for the interview. I filled out all the forms and got ready for my interview. It was a very wet morning and I felt the usual jitters and fear that accompanies interviews. I was also worried that being in school would factor against me.

I was interviewed by a panel of five and they realised I was very tense. So to make me relax, one of the interviewers asked me why I decided to learn Japanese. Talking about that made me relax a bit. They proceeded to ask me questions on Internet Policy, Internet governance, Net neutrality and copyright amongst other things.

They asked me how I was going to balance school and the fellowship program if I got in and I informed them of my flexible timetable for the second semester and how it allowed me time to work adequately. I left feeling quietly confident about the interview.

A final interview with the Project Director of the Network was conducted between myself and another candidate as we were the top two. I was offered the position which I accepted and I signed my contract on the 3rd of October, 2017 as the Google Policy Fellow at the African Academic Network on Internet Policy.

It was exciting resuming at my host organisation, meeting the members of the organisation and learning how things worked in the organisation. In the beginning, I felt odd because I was the youngest person but every single person in the organisation made me feel very welcome. The management worked with my class timetable and we were able to come up with a suitable work schedule.

LIFE AS A GOOGLE FELLOW

I handled and executed quite a number of tasks like writing op-eds on internet governance and policy issues, organising seminars, managing research grants between researchers and the Network, managing the researchers and members of the Network. I also represented the Network on panel sessions on Privacy issues, created the first ISGPP Privacy policy in preparation for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and I worked on concept notes for seminars. I served as a Project officer in the project unit where I organised the first conference on Data Protection and Privacy.

 

More of the tasks and skills I learnt can be found here.

MY BEST MOMENTS

It is almost impossible to pick just one time that can qualify as a “best moment” during this period but two particular moments stand out for me. First, it has to be the 1st conference African Academic Network on Internet Policy (AANOIP) organised in December 2017. Organising the conference taught me a whole lot of skills from management, to organisation, research writing, logistics, budget-writing and so on. The second was when I was on a panel on Cybersecurity and Trust at the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) in Abuja earlier this year. It was a scary task but also an opportunity to talk about Privacy and data protection in Nigeria and answer people’s questions on privacy issues.

I can’t begin to quantify how useful the fellowship has been for me. This fellowship has introduced me to Technology Policy, Privacy and Security. I have had the opportunity to work with and meet a lot of professionals and individuals while writing on internet policy and governance.

 

WHAT NEXT?

At the end of the Fellowship, I will be going to the Nigerian Law School for the compulsory one-year legal training. I also plan on writing the International Association of Privacy Professionals professional examination to be a Certified Information Privacy Professional/ Europe (CIPP/E). After law school, I will serve Nigeria and I hope to do that by working for the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) or Ministry of Communication to have some experience in the public policy space of Nigerian Technology.

This has been the best one year of my life and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

Adenike Adejuwon serves as a Google Policy Fellow with the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, Ibadan.

Nigerians Demand For Immediate Transmission Of Digital Rights Bill

By | ICT Policy

Nigerians on social media have expressed concern at the delay surrounding the transmission of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill by the national assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari for the presidential assent. The much anticipated Bill was passed in March by the Senate, following passage by the House of Representatives in November 2017. Since then, the national assembly has not transmitted the Bill to the Presidency.

In a campaign led by Paradigm Initiative, hundreds of posts were made on twitter and other social media platforms, calling on the national assembly leadership to immediately transmit the Bill to the president. Using the hashtags, #DigitalRightsBill and #HB490, social media campaigners ensured the Bill received adequate attention throughout last week.

According to a statement by Paradigm Initiative, “We are worried that since the passage in March, the National Assembly is yet to transmit the Bill to the President for assent. Many Bills passed after DRFB have been transmitted to the president for his assent. This is why we have called on Nigerians to join us in a campaign dedicated to encouraging the national assembly to send  this Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his signature.”

According to ‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director, “As we have said times without number before, The Digital Rights Bill is an important piece of legislation, not only for human rights in Nigeria but also for the economy of Nigeria.  The Bill provides for the protection of human rights online, protect internet users from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and guarantee the application of human rights for digital platform users.

The Bill strengthens users’ trust & has been lauded as a step in the right direction because of the value it brings to the digital economy and the rights of the people of  Nigeria. The bill seeks to guarantee human rights within the context of emerging innovative technologies, security concerns, increasing citizen participation in governance and democratic processes.”

The Bill empowers law enforcement agencies in Nigeria to leverage technology to carry out their work with best practices obtainable anywhere in the world, It also empowers young Nigerians who want to learn, innovate and do other forms of legitimate activities online by safeguarding their rights to do so. The Bill when it becomes law will boost technological innovations in Nigeria and reverse the adversarial tendencies often displayed towards young people who embrace technology by security agencies as demonstrated by recent outrage against SARS in Nigeria.

Legal Battle Over CyberCrimes Act Moves to the Supreme Court

By | ICT Policy, Press Release

The legal battle over the constitutionality of sections of the Cybercrimes Act has now moved to the Supreme Court. Three civil society organizations, namely Media Rights Agenda, Paradigm Initiative and Enough Is Enough Nigeria are pleading with apex court to expunge Sections 24 and 38 of the Cybercrimes Act 2015.

 

The organizations commenced this journey in May 2016, when, their lawyer Olumide Babalola first filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit challenging the constitutionality of sections 24 and 38 of the Act at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. On January 20, 2017, the court, however, ruled that the sections were constitutional.

 

The unfavourable decision at the High Court pushed the organizations to approach the Court of Appeal. The appeal with case number A/L/556/2017 was however decided against the appellants, in a judgment delivered on June 22, 2018. The organizations are now putting their hope in the Supreme Court to ensure Sections 24 and 38 of the Cybercrimes Act 2015 are stricken off the Nigerian law book.

 

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “It bears repeating here that Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act deals with Cyberstalking and that section has been repeatedly used to harass and persecute journalists and critics. It’s arguably the most dangerous provision against freedom of speech, opinion, and inquiry. Sections 38 provides for the duties of a service provider vis-a-vis data retention and contains provisions that we believe are too vague and borderline unconstitutional.”

 

Ogundipe continued, “While we respect the learned Justices who did not agree with our submissions on the unconstitutionality of the sections, we, however, believe the courts have failed to carefully consider our arguments. In a concurring judgment, one of the justices of the appellate court agreed that the law should be reviewed to whittle-down its arbitrariness. We believe the sections should be removed in their entirety and we hope the Supreme Court would agree with us”

 

The respondents in the case are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Inspector General of the Police and the National Assembly.

Bloggers, Rights Advocates Deplore Bloggers’ License Fee

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy

Tanzanian bloggers and digital rights advocates have condemned the recently introduced license fee for bloggers in the country. They made this call at a dinner organized by Paradigm Initiative in collaboration with  Article 19 and HIVOS  in Dar es Salam, Tanzania. Attendees at the July 9 dinner included a pool of local bloggers, lawyers, civil society organizations, the Dutch embassy, technical community, and media.

 

According to Wathagi Ndungu, Paradigm Initiative’s Google  Policy Fellow, “the purpose of the dinner was to discuss the effects of the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations 2018 that placed a requirement on bloggers and any other Internet-based service to share the names of their shareholders, their details, their approximate cost of investment, tax clearance certifications, pay slightly more than 900 USD in fees that includes an initial application fee, a licence fee and a renewable licence fee after 3 years and a lot more.”

 

‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director and Sylvia Musalagani of Hivos led an interactive discussion with the participants.

 

Wilfred Warioba from the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance said “The new legislation is a tool that has been created to protect certain institutions. There is no room for these bloggers and online content creators to excel unless they touch on certain interests. This is a denial of the right to access to information but nonetheless, there is room for negotiation now that we are in the courts”

 

“You don’t have to be journalists to write and share any information. This new law denies new people space for innovation. Innovation through media is being stopped so how are we going to innovate through media if we are being stifled. On the economic front, it stifles the rights of the young people who have no resources but want to express themselves,” said a blogger at the dinner.

 

‘Gbenga Sesan also encouraged attendees to deliberate on the way forward in the fight against the license fee.

 

“What shall we do? What needs to be done? We should be able to have conversations around it. This is not just for bloggers. How do we let people know about this? The policy is for everyone. When an idea comes to you and you need help to you we are here to help. We always know someone who can hold hands. Let’s work together.” Sesan said.

 

Henry Maina, the regional director of Article 19 said, “Think about the reactive work e.g. where government and other actors have been ahead of us and we need to play catch up. We need the right people in the right spaces in order to move government on certain laws. It’s important to create standards because as specialists we cannot remain casual.”

 

Sylvia Musalangi of Hivos added, “We need to have more conversations on this. We need to get more voices. There is an issue on capacity in understanding the issues around this.”

 

It was agreed among all in attendance that it was vital to take immediate action and that it was paramount that all stakeholders have long-term conversations.

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