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ICT Policy

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.

Digital Rights Workshop: Empowering Advocates in Cameroon

By | ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom

Paradigm Initiative in partnership with Internews, AfroLeadership, and CYEED organized a 4-day Digital Rights Workshop from the 18th day of June 2018 to the 21st June 2018 in Douala, Cameroun.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss with civil societies, government, private individuals and other stakeholders in the digital rights landscape of Cameroon and to also train participants on their Digital Rights and on advocacy. This training in June was the third training held in Cameroon as previous training had been held in both Barmenda and Yaounde.

                                      

Participants at this workshop were exposed to a variety of training and resources. While the first two days witnessed new participants, the last two days were for selected persons from groups which had already been working on projects surrounding digital rights from the last two sessions.

One of the first and basic subjects on which the participants were trained was on the topic of what Digital Rights entail, in a session tagged  ‘Digital Rights 101’ led by ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. Participants were trained on what internet and digital rights are, on the power of the internet, privacy surveillance, freedom of expression, opinion, association and so on.

In another more streamlined session on ICT Policy in Cameroon, the Google Policy Fellow at Paradigm Initiative, Rigobert Kenmogne treated issues like the laws and the evolution of ICT policies in Cameroon, ICT players and other factors contributing to the ICT Policy landscape in Cameroon.

The session on advocacy and communications was quite impactful as participants not only learned about strategies for advocacy but also on how to communicate a message. The participants were taught on project evaluation and monitoring, knowledge development, public speaking, creating coalitions and so on.

At the same training, a report was also presented by Adeboro Odunlami, Program Assistant (Digital Rights), Paradigm Initiative. The report embodied a case study on the digital rights situation in francophone African countries. At this session, almost all participants shared experiences on the negative effect of digital rights violation witnessed in their country. Paradigm Initiative also shared some lessons it learned from the Africa NetRights Coalition and the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

As the workshop progressed, participants were made to carry out practical tasks and discussions.

A session on ‘Building Trust and Relationships’ witnessed the participants answering questions such as ‘what is the current digital rights landscape in Cameroun?’, ‘where does my Organization/work fit in?’, ‘How can we all work together to make each other stronger?’ and other pertinent questions

At the end of this session, many participants revealed personal and organizational skills and resources which they’d be willing to share with other civil societies towards the goal of solving problems we had earlier identified.

For instance, a participant offered free workspace and technological support to another participant who indicated that his organization was working on a website compendium of laws and decrees of Cameroon in English and French language. Yet another participant offered free training for the Interns of participant organizations on Digital Media and Digital Rights. Another offered free social media visibility services and graphic design services. Another offered her skill to engender projects and make other Organizations’ projects more inclusive. Furthermore, another participant offered digital security training for free. There were also offers of free Newspaper pages for Advocacy materials and subsidized training on Communication, Writing Report and Press releases

Participants were also involved in other hands-on sessions where they prepared solutions to problems projected to occur at the upcoming election. Ideas/solutions presented involved building a coalition to facilitate internet access, writing open letters to the government, sensitization, and education of the electorate, managing post-election violence and so on.

                                                          

Also at the workshop, Internews shared a guideline with the participants to facilitate a better understanding of its sub-grant application process.

Elevator pitches were also facilitated by all partners at the workshop to train participants on the proper and precise communication of ideas; a much-needed skill for advocacy

More topics treated at the workshop include budget development and project management for their digital rights projects.

‘Gbenga Sesan Bemoans Attacks on Internet Freedom in Africa

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy, Internet Freedom, Press Release

A digital rights expert and the executive director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr ‘Gbenga Sesan has bemoaned the spate of attacks on internet freedom in Africa. Sesan was speaking at RightsCon, an international conference on digital rights recently in Toronto, Canada.

Sesan, while speaking on efforts by Paradigm Initiative and its partners to protect digital rights and freedom on the continent, said “At Paradigm Initiative, we do this annual report focused on the state of digital rights in Africa. In 2017, we looked at twenty-one African countries and one of the trends we have seen is that things are getting worse. In terms of clamp down on the media, in terms of clamp down on citizens, in terms of using excuses like national security to shut down the internet, things continue to go downhill in many countries across Africa.”

“In Nigeria, there is a new proposal on hate speech bill, and the definition of hate speech is very interesting actually, an insult is considered hate speech. So we have a situation where citizens would not be able to express themselves freely online. Next month, we will release our report on Nigeria and I can tell you right now that things are not looking great for Nigeria in terms of respect for internet freedom.”

Paradigm Initiative recently conducted an online pool on freedom of expression online in Nigeria, and it was discovered that 40% of respondents feel unsafe expressing themselves online.

Sesan also used the opportunity to talk about Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedom Bill that was recently passed by the National Assembly. He said the bill would ensure that digital rights are taken seriously in Nigeria and that those who violate these rights are held accountable under the law.

“We are excited about the passage of the bill by the national assembly. We hope the national assembly would expedite actions on transmitting the bill to the presidency for the presidential assent. Our hope is that the bill is signed into law before activities for the next elections in 2019 take centre stage.

Paradigm Initiative held three sessions at the international conference and all were focused on entrenching understanding of issues affecting digital rights and freedom in Africa. Other members of Paradigm Initiative at the conference were the Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs, and Boye Adegoke, the Digital Rights  Program Manager for Anglophone Africa.

For more information on this, please send a mail to media@paradigmhq.org.

Experts Call for Replication of Digital Rights Bill in other African Countries

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy, Internet Freedom, Press Release

Digital rights experts have called for the replication of Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedom Bill by other African countries. The bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly was praised by experts as a step in the good direction in strengthening digital rights on the continent.

The experts made this call at the 6th Internet Freedom Forum, an international conference organized by Paradigm Initiative, which is currently taking place at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

Speaking at the event, Ephraim Kenyanito of Article 19 East Africa, said, “It would be great if the Nigerian president could immediately sign the bill into law. This would be seen as a challenge to other African countries. It would be great for Nigeria to set a good example in this area.”

According to Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Manager, “The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill was drafted by a coalition of civil society, private sector and government to protect the digital rights of Nigerians in the emerging digital age. The bill is great for the protecting citizens’ rights and also great for the economy as it would energize the tech industry.”

John Edokpolo, Microsoft Nigeria Head of Legal Affairs, called on the government to enact good laws in encouraging innovation and development in the tech industry. “If you want foreign direct investment in the technology industry, you need to have a good data privacy law, among other things. It helps when businesses can help government see the economic benefits of having positive legislation around digital rights. The job should not be left to the civil society alone.”

The Forum also provided an opportunity to discuss the adversarial relationship between government and media in the digital age. Speaking at the session dedicated to the theme, Henry Maina, Regional Director of Article 19 Eastern Africa, said: “Nigeria remains one of the many African countries which still retain criminal libel laws, an unfortunate reality that simply erodes freedom.”

Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Digital Media, said, “an effective media ensures a free society and serves as a check on government. The media should, therefore, avoid engaging in only broadcasting what different actors are saying but go beyond the press statements to finding out the truth. The media must do more to combat fake news and ensure truthfulness in their reports. While I would not campaign for government regulation of media space, I would argue for the media to be more accountable and self-regulate.”

Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher of Premium Times, said the media was already accountable and it was the government that needed to improve transparency and its proactiveness in releasing information.

The Internet Freedom Forum also had a session dedicated to discussing the impact of intentional internet disruptions on the economy. This session, coordinated by the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore University Kenya, analyzed the economic impact of internet shutdown on the economies of the countries that have experienced. Speakers at the session bemoaned the ease with which African countries now resort to internet shutdown without any consideration for its impact on their peoples and economy.

The Forum, which runs between April 24 to April 26, brings together experts from across some forty countries in Africa and beyond.  speakers at the event together also included ‘Gbenga Sesan, Tolu Adeleru-Balogun of Naija Info, Ana Brandusescu of Web Foundation, and Titi Akinsanmi of Google.

Monitoring Digital Rights as Sierra Leone and Egypt go to the Polls

By | #PINternetFreedom, ICT Policy

By Babatunde Okunoye

Africa’s many development challenges around the economy, health, security, environment, employment and housing amongst others have for many decades captured the world’s attention. The fragile socio-economic fabric of the continent has resulted in Africa being a major recipient of foreign aid and development grants over the years.

Therefore when it’s election time in Africa, many interests collide as they strive to shape the future of the continent, at least for the time permitted by the term limit of the offices being sought. In Presidential elections, in particular, the stakes are highest because of the tremendous power African Heads of States tend to have to shape the destinies of their countries.

However, it is clear that in recent years, election time in Africa has also become the platform for some of the worst human rights abuses as incumbents strive to hold on to power by all means. Digital rights in Africa have suffered as elections in Africa between 2016 and 2017 have being the setting for Internet shutdowns, blocking of apps such as whatsapp and twitter which citizens use in political mobilizing. Governments across Africa have typically used excuses such restricting fake news and hate speech as a pretext in carrying out information controls around elections, but their real intentions are always plain – suppressing their populations to achieve political advantage.

In March 7 and March 26 – March 28 respectively, the West African nations of Sierra Leone and Egypt in North Africa will conduct Presidential elections in contexts where the incumbents seem inordinately disposed to retain power for self and political party – and as such just the right environment for the blocking/throttling of social media, Internet disruptions, illegal surveillance, clampdown on citizens and journalists as we have witnessed across Africa in recent years. Egypt, in particular, gives the most cause for concern. In addition to implementing one of the most extensive surveillance networks against journalists on the continent, Internet disruptions in the Sinai, authorities in Egypt are currently building a climate of fear where digital rights including freedom of expression and press freedoms cannot thrive.

As these important elections are held in the coming few weeks, Paradigm Initiative will work with partners in the region to monitor the situations in these countries. Alongside the global digital rights community, we are of the firm opinion that access to the Internet should never be disrupted intentionally and those successful elections can be held in Africa without information controls. Elections in Nigeria in 2015 and Ghana in 2016 teach that the Internet can actually become a tool for the successful conduct of elections and the political process in general. This is a lesson we hope can be replicated across Africa.

 

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