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April2020

Paradigm Initiative and Start up by A&E law develop Draft COVID-19 Regulations

Par | Communiqué de presse

In a virtual policy sprint that lasted for 72 hours, Startup by A&E Law and Paradigm Initiative led the development of a draft Coronavirus Regulation which States in Nigeria can adopt to guide their response to the global pandemic. The Regulation which was drafted in line with the Quarantine Act (CAP Q2 LFN 2004) sets out a defined lockdown period during which a State Governor may impose such restrictions as may be necessary to help forestall the pandemic. The Draft also has provisions to ensure adherence to defined timeframes to ensure proportionality in its application. The Draft Regulation which has 12 clauses also sets out the declarations prescribed by the Quarantine Act on a dangerous infectious disease and the local area (State) to which it applies.

While speaking on the development, Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager, Digital Rights, Adeboye Adegoke says that “We have worked with Startup by A&E Law and other members of the Nigerian community online to produce a standard Regulation that reflects our shared commitment to combating this pandemic. As a digital right organisation, we ensured that the draft has digital rights provision to safeguard against potential abuse and to ensure that the measures being taken by States at this time are lawful, necessary, appropriate, periodic, and transparent.

Speaking on the Policy Sprint,  Naro Omo-Osagie of Start-up by A&E Law described it as a glimpse into law and policymaking in an increasingly digitized future. She added that they were inspired to Crowdsource a Draft Regulation for Nigerian States after the Covid19 Policy Hackathon organized by LawyersHub Kenya. She expressed her appreciation to all the individuals and organizations whose support and guidance contributed to the final document. She thanked Lawyers Hub Kenya, the Africa Law Tech Association and in particular, Paradigm Initiative whose collaboration and input made the sprint possible. On the Draft Regulations, she further stated that Startup by A&E Law is happy to connect with States seeking to adopt the Draft Regulations for their own use.

About the Organizers

Startup by A&E Law is a specialized division of A&E Law Partnership and the Convener of the Nigeria Tech Law Forum. They offer expertise in Startup Law, Tech Policy, and Business Development for early-stage companies. Through their online platforms, they connect entrepreneurs with practical tools and legal solutions to help grow their businesses. You can find them online at www.startupbyaandelaw.com  and on Instagram and Twitter @startupbyande..

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights. Its digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Accra, Ghana; Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa).

 

 

Paradigm Initiative concerned about ongoing plans to use MTN customer data to fight COVID-19 in Nigeria

Par | Communiqué de presse

Abuja, April 9, 2020 – Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa, is deeply concerned about the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’s attempts to collaborate with telcos to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In these austere moments when the vulnerability of humans, and the community at large, is at its peak, Paradigm Initiative is still committed to protecting the digital rights of Africans from further vulnerabilities. 

A rapport that MTN & the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have entered into a data-sharing partnership, following a presentation by MTN, to mine and provide its users’ data “to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus” came to our attention. 

While efforts to mitigate and control the spread and sting of this novel coronavirus are appreciated, the existing and sacred fundamental rights of users MUST be protected at all times. 

First, it is important to iterate that, no other time than now presents MTN and other Mobile Network Operators with the opportunity to “be transparent with the public about the sharing of Mobile Operator Data with Governments or Agencies” and to “help counter misinformation and raise awareness of data sharing to help combat COVID-19”. This is further buttressed by the COVID-19 Privacy Guidelines released by the GSM Association (GSMA) on April 6.

However, in light of the report, Paradigm Initiative humbly asserts that it does not lie in the power of MTN to arbitrarily use, distribute or grant third-party access for the processing of users’ data. Information such as the travel history of MTN users, their current location, and other sensitive information are private data that should absolutely not be commodity in a partnership, irrespective of noble intentions. 

The reported sharing (or potential sharing) of users’ personal data by MTN to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) will constitute a sheer breach of users’ trust and would adversely hamper on the right to the privacy of data of its users especially if the data being shared is personally identifiable data. 

According to the GSMA COVID-19 Privacy Guidelines, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) should “take proactive steps to implement privacy best practices… and consider the ethical implications of lawful sharing of Mobile Operator Data for the purposes of helping Governments or Agencies to contain, delay or research the spread of the virus or to mitigate its impact on public health”. 

 We are all navigating through this time with no playbook – there is definitely a global need for innovation by the government, private companies and even citizens alike. Things are changing and thinking outside the box has become a survival skill but some things do not change. And one of such is that data subjects have the right to privacy of their data and such right may only be derogated from in constitutionally stipulated conditions and IMPORTANTLY, by legally stipulated processes. 

The GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines advise MNOs such as MTN to “engage with Governments or Agencies and, where appropriate courts, to seek clarity when the legal basis for a request is unclear or uncertain or where additional emergency powers may be required to support a request”. 

If the NGF believes that accessing and processing the location and travel history data of MTN users is the most innovative way to help public health in Nigeria, then Paradigm Initiative calls on the Forum to follow the legally stipulated process to transparently secure such data. Alternatively, MTN may share “insights or aggregated non-identifiable data… to the extent that they are truly anonymous” in accordance with the GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines. 

Even in the sharing of insights or aggregated non-identifiable data, both MTN and the NGF must engage in the process in a lawful and fair manner, taking all circumstances and potential impacts into account. According to the GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines: “To the extent the request is based on a specific law in the interests of public security that such laws are necessary and proportionate to achieve a specified and legitimate aim that is consistent with internationally recognised privacy standards, human rights and other relevant laws.”

Finally, it is important to iterate that fundamental rights are still fundamental even in a pandemic. Decisions made, and actions taken, during crises will be with us when the crisis ends so we should avoid creating a problem in the name of solving another problem.

For more comments or feedback on this press release, please contact Paradigm Initiative’s Legal Officer, Adeboro Odunlami, at adeboro.odunlami@paradigmhq.org.

Africa: Encroaching on Digital Rights Under the Pretext of Containing COVID-19?  

Par | Droits numériques, Liberté d'Internet

Digital rights violations in Africa have become commonplace in the past decade, with Internet shutdowns, social media app disruptions, illegal surveillance, arrest of citizens (for comments made online) and data privacy violations, amongst others, becoming regular occurrences. At Paradigm Initiative, our constant monitoring of the digital rights scene on the continent feeds into our advocacy work, and into our annual Digital Rights in Africa Report, the 2019 edition which was published on Thursday.

In the past 5 years in particular, the severity of digital rights violations on the continent has sunken to new lows, details of which never ceases to shock. Despite this, the COVID-19 outbreak, which has dominated headlines around the world in the past few weeks, and has made inroads into the continent, reignites our shock at the speed with which some state actors in Africa can hide under any pretext to limit human rights and freedoms. Granted that in the midst of a pandemic, certain civil freedoms can be limited for public safety, the accounts of human rights violations in Africa in the past weeks have often lacked a sense of proportionality and legality in some government efforts to ostensibly stop the spread of the virus.

At Paradigm Initiative, we’ve been monitoring and documenting the concerning cases of human and digital rights violations since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our Africa-wide and global community convened through the NetRights Africa coalition mailing list, we have been collating incidents of violations during the pandemic, and also offering support to community members.

This blog gives an overview of the major violations which have occurred in Africa since the onset of the pandemic, and also highlights the sobering reality that many of these violations only caught on on the continent once they had become “legitimized” in Europe and elsewhere, for example with Germany, Austria and Belgium amongst the countries using mobile phone surveillance to track the spread of the pandemic. This is a reminder to our partners in digital rights advocacy in the global North that it is often the case that facilitators of human and digital rights violations get emboldened in their acts when they’ve observed hitherto defenders of these rights abuse them.

We learnt recently that a 13-year-old boy became the latest casualty of brutal police enforcement of COVID-19 lockdowns in Kenya after he was hit by a bullet while standing in the balcony of his parent’s home. However, journalists and citizens have been particularly affected by government restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the arrest of Kaka Goni in Niger for a Twitter post about a suspected COVID-19 case in Niamey, the country’s capital; the arrest of Elijah Muthui Kitonyo for spreading what was termed fake news about the whereabouts of a COVID-19 patient in Kenya; and the implementation of more restrictions to the free movement of journalists in Nigeria following the announcement of lockdowns in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Ogun, and the federal capital, Abuja.

South Africa has in place, legislation which criminalizes the spreading of misinformation relating to COVID-19, while the country has also joined Kenya in implementing mobile phone tracking for COVID-19 surveillance. In Sierra Leone, the government has imposed a 12-month-long state of emergency, which gives security agencies emergency powers, apparently without approval of Parliament.

Throughout the duration of the pandemic, we will continuously monitor the situation in collaboration with our NetRights Africa community. Our monitoring and analysis will inform the nature of support we mobilize for this digital rights community. With their support, and the support of the broader international digital rights community, we are confident that digital rights in particular, and human rights in general, will be defended during this period; and that learnings from this period will inform our preparedness for future emergencies.

The author of this article, Babatunde Okunoye, is the Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative.

 

 

 

Vacancy: Community Manager

Par | Non classé

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

Résumé du poste:

The Community Manager will oversee Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights and digital inclusion community engagement efforts, with a strong focus on resilience and consistency. 

Reporting To:

Chief Operations Officer

Rôles et responsabilités:

  • Engage relevant national, regional and global institutions and stakeholders on issues around digital rights and inclusion in Africa
  • Plan, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of community mobilization activities
  • Analyse issues arising from community discussions and suggest appropriate measures to ensure timely implementation
  • Work with the PIN in-house team to deliver the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • In consultation with the PIN Leadership Team, set up an External Advisory Group for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Coordinate the development of budgets and lead fundraising for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Manage Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum processes
  • Improve and manage Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights and inclusion community, including the NetRights coalition, event participants, partners and other stakeholders
  • Oversee the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL), in partnership with the Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion team leads
  • Work with both Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion teams to identify opportunities for community building
  • Provide community updates, including policy developments, legislative processes and other relevant updates, to relevant partners

Key Result Areas:

  • Build, grow and/or manage a resilient, consistent and effective Digital Right and Inclusion community for PIN
  • Mobilize funds for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Develop and implement policies that enhance the community’s effectiveness and  organization’s output and services
  • Entreprendre d'autres tâches conformément aux attentes du poste
  • Work with Communications to commission and execute media campaigns for DRIF and DRILL
  • Deliver relevant and timely policy updates to identified partners

Education, skill and experience:

  • Proven work experience as a Community Manager or similar role
  • Experience planning and leading community initiatives, including large pan-African/bi-lingual events
  • Ability to identify and track relevant community KPIs
  • Project Management
  • Understanding of budgeting, financial planning and financial reports
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and presentations skills
  • Attention to detail, critical-thinker and problem-solver

Salaries and Benefits:

Commensurate with experience, plus other benefits such as health insurance, pension contributions, communication allowance, sabbatical leave, paid annual leave, maternity/paternity leave, dependent relative allowance and 13th-month salary.

Application Deadline: 

May 15th, 2020

Resumption Date:

July 1, 2020

Apply here >>>

COVID-19: States use of digital surveillance technologies to fight pandemic must respect human rights

Par | Droits numériques, Liberté d'Internet

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health emergency that requires a coordinated and large-scale response by governments worldwide. However, States’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge governments to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures that the use of digital technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations is carried out strictly in line with human rights.

Technology can and should play an important role during this effort to save lives, such as to spread public health messages and increase access to health care. However, an increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities – undermining the effectiveness of any public health response. Such measures also pose a risk of discrimination and may disproportionately harm already marginalized communities.

These are extraordinary times, but human rights law still applies. Indeed, the human rights framework is designed to ensure that different rights can be carefully balanced to protect individuals and wider societies. States cannot simply disregard rights such as privacy and freedom of expression in the name of tackling a public health crisis. On the contrary, protecting human rights also promotes public health. Now more than ever, governments must rigorously ensure that any restrictions to these rights is in line with long-established human rights safeguards.

This crisis offers an opportunity to demonstrate our shared humanity. We can make extraordinary efforts to fight this pandemic that are consistent with human rights standards and the rule of law. The decisions that governments make now to confront the pandemic will shape what the world looks like in the future.

We call on all governments not to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with increased digital surveillance unless the following conditions are met:

  1. Surveillance measures adopted to address the pandemic must be lawful, necessary and proportionate. They must be provided for by law and must be justified by legitimate public health objectives, as determined by the appropriate public health authorities, and be proportionate to those needs. Governments must be transparent about the measures they are taking so that they can be scrutinized and if appropriate later modified, retracted, or overturned. We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as an excuse for indiscriminate mass surveillance.
  2. If governments expand monitoring and surveillance powers then such powers must be time-bound, and only continue for as long as necessary to address the current pandemic. We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as an excuse for indefinite surveillance
  3. States must ensure that increased collection, retention, and aggregation of personal data, including health data, is only used for the purposes of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected, Fed, and aggregated to respond to the pandemic must be limited in scope, time-bound in relation to the pandemic and must not be used for commercial or any other purposes. We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as an excuse to gut individual’s right to privacy.
  4. Governments must take every effort to protect people’s data, including ensuring sufficient security of any personal data collected and of any devices, applications, networks, or services involved in collection, transmission, processing, and storage. Any claims that data is anonymous must be based on evidence and supported with sufficient information regarding how it has been anonymized. We cannot allow attempts to respond to this pandemic to be used as justification for compromising people’s digital safety.
  5. Any use of digital surveillance technologies in responding to COVID-19, including big data and artificial intelligence systems, must address the risk that these tools will facilitate discrimination and other rights abuses against racial minorities, people living in poverty, and other marginalized populations, whose needs and lived realities may be obscured or misrepresented in large datasets. We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to further increase the gap in the enjoyment of human rights between different groups in society.
  6. If governments enter into data sharing agreements with other public or private sector entities, they must be based on law, and the existence of these agreements and information necessary to assess their impact on privacy and human rights must be publicly disclosed – in writing, with sunset clauses, public oversight and other safeguards by default. Businesses involved in efforts by governments to tackle COVID-19 must undertake due diligence to ensure they respect human rights, and ensure any intervention is firewalled from other business and commercial interests. We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as an excuse for keeping people in the dark about what information their governments are gathering and sharing with third parties.
  7. Any response must incorporate accountability protections and safeguards against abuse. Increased surveillance efforts related to COVID-19 should not fall under the domain of security or intelligence agencies and must be subject to effective oversight by appropriate independent bodies. Further, individuals must be given the opportunity to know about and challenge any COVID-19 related measures to collect, aggregate, and retain, and use data. Individuals who have been subjected to surveillance must have access to effective remedies.
  8. COVID-19 related responses that include data collection efforts should include means for free, active, and meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular experts in the public health sector and the most marginalized population groups.

Signatories:

7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement
Accéder maintenant
African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition
AI Now
Algorithm Watch
Alternatif Bilisim
Amnesty International
ApTI
ARTICLE 19
Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa, ACI Participa
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
ASUTIC, Senegal
Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
Barracón Digital
Big Brother Watch
Bits of Freedom
Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD)
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Economic Justice
Centro De Estudios Constitucionales y de Derechos Humanos de Rosario
Chaos Computer Club – CCC
Citizen D / Državljan D
Civil Liberties Union for Europe
CódigoSur
Coding Rights
Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social
Collaboration sur la politique internationale des TIC pour l'Afrique orientale et australe (CIPESA)
Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre)
Comité pour la protection des journalistes
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Cooperativa Tierra Común
Creative Commons Uruguay
D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Data Privacy Brasil
Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center “DAAM”
Derechos Digitales
Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (DRLI)
Digital Security Lab Ukraine
Digitalcourage
EPIC
epicenter.works
European Digital Rights – EDRi
Fitug
Foundation for Information Policy Research
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Fundación Acceso (Centroamérica)
Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo, Ecuador
Fundación Datos Protegidos
Fundación Internet Bolivia
Fundación Taigüey, República Dominicana
Fundación Vía Libre
Hermes Center
Hiperderecho
Homo Digitalis
Human Rights Watch
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies
Index on Censorship
Initiative für Netzfreiheit
Innovation for Change – Middle East and North Africa
International Commission of Jurists
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social
Ipandetec
IPPF
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
IT-Political Association of Denmark
Iuridicum Remedium z.s. (IURE)
Karisma
La Quadrature du Net
Liberia Information Technology Student Union
Liberty
Luchadoras
Majal.org
Masaar “Community for Technology and Law”
Media Rights Agenda (Nigeria)
MENA Rights Group
Metamorphosis Foundation
New America’s Open Technology Institute
Observacom
Open Data Institute
Open Rights Group
OpenMedia
OutRight Action International
Pangea
Panoptykon Foundation
Paradigm Initiative (PIN)
PEN International
Privacy International
Public Citizen
Public Knowledge
R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales
RedesAyuda
SHARE Foundation
Skyline International for Human Rights
Sursiendo
Swedish Consumers’ Association
Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
Tech Inquiry
TechHerNG
TEDIC
The Bachchao Project
Unwanted Witness, Uganda
WITNESS
Fondation World Wide Web

COVID-19: It is dangerous to block citizen’s access, PIN tells Nigeria and Ghana

Par | Communiqué de presse

Paradigm Initiative has urged the government of Ghana and Nigeria not to block the telephone lines or access of citizens to emergency services in this critical time. A statement released by Ghana’s Ministry of Communications alleged that over 99% of calls made to the emergency line provided for COVID-19 response were prank calls and that the government will henceforth block prank callers. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government may be considering the same measures and more, having alleged that it is facing similar challenges. In a time as this, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Telecommunication companies (Telcos) have a huge responsibility to make their services available to aid information flow from and to the authorities, especially as there is a natural tendency for citizens to panic and seek answers to many questions they will have.

The worst response to imagine in the middle of this global pandemic, however, is denying access to users as a measure against irrelevant calls to COVID-19 emergency call centers. At this critical time, access might just be the thin line between life and death for many citizens. The government should expand its capacity to receive multiple calls and come up with innovative strategies instead of clamping down on citizens. This is not the best of times and it is not just important that rights are respected but the government must not introduce measures that complicate an already complicated situation. Nigeria and Ghana like many other countries in the world have acknowledged the challenges with the capacity to test broadly.  Therefore if the two countries must compare notes, it should be about increasing the capacity to test, isolate and treat confirmed cases, encourage social distancing, introduce welfare measures and ensure citizens are protected.

It is statistically impossible that 99% of calls to the emergency line are prank calls as alleged by Ghana’s Ministry of Communication. It is very easy to infer that panic calls, curious calls and calls from those who may not be symptomatic but have genuine fears are being categorized as prank calls. A prank call by definition is made to make a joke or play a trick. We do not agree with Ghana’s Ministry of Education that up to 99% of callers to the emergency centers are doing so just to play a trick or make a joke and even if it is so, it is a reflection of the panic and fear that makes people want to know if the number that is supposed to save their lives is working. It is important not to use the excuse of fake news around COVID-19 to clamp down on loud dissenting voices as that will be a major mistake at a time when we all need to work together on combatting misinformation, including encouraging those working to get life-saving information to citizens who need them.

We endorse interventions and support being offered by the private sector and volunteers to ensure that the government is not overwhelmed. We, however, strongly advise the government to avoid emotional reactions that may deny citizens, access to health care and essential services at a time when movements are being restricted. We also call on citizens not to panic but follow guidelines provided by the official Disease Control institutions in their respective countries and the World Health Organisation as we all seek to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being victims in this trying time.

 

 

 

Droits numériques en Afrique francophone: ce qu’il faut retenir du premier trimestre 2020  

Par | Droits numériques, Liberté d'Internet

L’Afrique francophone a enregistré plusieurs types de violations des droits numériques dans cette dernière décennie. Entre 2017 et 2020, les acteurs clés des pays francophones ayant enregistré des violations régulières, notamment le Cameroun, le Tchad, la RDC, le Togo, le Bénin, le Burundi, l’Algérie… ont été sensibilisés et formés sur la préoccupation de la situation du respect des droits de l’homme en ligne sur cette partie du continent. La publicisation de la notion des droits numériques en Afrique francophone est un effort des organisations de défense des droits numériques au niveau international, notamment Paradigm Initiative qui s’est investie ces dernières années pour lutter contre les violations diverses en matière des droits numériques. La vulgarisation des concepts clés liés aux droits numériques comme les libertés de l’Internet et sur Internet, la sécurité numérique, la liberté d’expression en ligne, les politiques publiques du numérique par des campagnes, des plaidoyers et des activités diverses de formations à l’endroit des leaders de la société civile ont permis aux utilisateurs Internet d’être mieux édifier sur leurs droits et des mécanismes à suivre pour revendiquer en cas de violations.

Lire notre Rapport 2019 sur les droits numériques en Afrique >>> ici 

Mais malgré tous ces efforts, les gouvernements continuent de développer des astuces ingénieuses pour violer les droits des utilisateurs en ligne, régulièrement dans des contextes électoraux et de crise. De nouveaux mécanismes de violations sont ainsi développés à travers des plans de surveillances et de contrôles de masse des populations connectées pour des fins politiques. Ceci se fait le plus souvent sous le prétexte de lutter contre le terrorisme ou la cybercriminalité. Certes, ces fléaux sont des réels menacent, mais la plupart des gouvernants utilisent de travers.

Les violations enregistrées dans les trois premiers mois de l’année 2020 ont permis de mieux comprendre une fois de plus le contexte dans lequel les gouvernements souvent en accord avec les opérateurs et fournisseurs d’accès Internet violent les libertés sur Internet ou arrêtent les activistes/blogueurs pour des objectifs politiques. Enfin, les gouvernements exploitent régulièrement des opportunités comme des accidents ou des incidents involontaires pour violer les droits de l’homme en ligne.

Rupture de la fibre optique et fermetures d’Internet

Le 15 janvier 2020, le câble sous-marin WACS (West Africa Cable System) reliant la partie Ouest-Afrique à l’Europe (Londres) a été accidentellement endommagé en affectant considérablement la qualité de la connexion Internet dans plusieurs villes des 12 pays desservis en Afrique, principalement les pays francophones. Au total, le WACS dispose de 14 terminaux, donc 12 en Afrique et 2 en Europe. Plusieurs gouvernements et opérateurs d’Internet dans la zone Afrique francophone ont justifié des perturbations de l’Internet par cet incident.

En janvier, le Cameroun a enregistré de fortes perturbations sur son réseau Internet. Le 17 janvier 2020, la Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel), l’opérateur public des télécoms au Cameroun en charge de la gestion de la fibre optique au Cameroun a publié un communiqué pour annoncer la perturbation du réseau Internet à la suite d’un accident sur le câble sous-marin WACS. Avant ce communiqué, l’observatoire Internet NetBlocks avait déjà montré que les médias sociaux et les services de messagerie ont été perturbés.

Le 11 mars 2020, la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), a enregistré une nouvelle coupure d’Internet à la suite d’une nouvelle rupture du câble sous-marin selon les opérateurs. La population a été suspendue d’accès au web et aux réseaux sociaux pour plusieurs heures. Cette coupure d’Internet intervient près de trois mois après les deux premiers incidents qui avaient privé le pays d’Internet et une dizaine d’autres pays africains.

Élections et fermetures d’Internet

Les autorités togolaises ont sérieusement perturbé les connexions Internet pendant le premier tour des élections présidentielles dans le pays en février 2020. Les utilisateurs Internet ont été victimes de la suspension des réseaux Internet le 22 février 2020, date du premier tour du scrutin présidentiel. Selon la presse locale, cette rupture de la connexion Internet visait à étouffer les revendications électorales sur Internet au bout d’un processus entaché de fraudes. Le président Faure Gnassingbé, au pouvoir depuis 2005 a été réélu au premier tour des élections contre toutes attentes pour un quatrième mandat. Bien avant ces perturbations des réseaux Internet, Paradigm Initiative a signé une lettre adressée aux autorités du pays dans le cadre de la coalition #KeepItOn de Access Now avec d’autres organisations de défense des droits de l’Internet, dans l’optique d’attirer l’attention du gouvernement togolais sur les conséquences d’une coupure d’Internet sur le processus électoral.

Lire notre Rapport 2019 sur les droits numériques en Afrique >>> ici 

En Guinée, les autorités ont fermé Internet pour une durée d’environ 2 heures le vendredi 20 mars 2020 à la veille des élections reportées dans le pays. Les opérateurs Orange, MTN et Cellcom Guinée ont entamé les travaux sur le câble sous-marin le 19 mars après avoir informé qu’une coupure de réseau Internet allait intervenir de 1 heure du matin à 13 heures le 21 mars et de 1 heure à 9 heures le 22 mars, pour une intervention menée par Orange Marine, la filiale de l’opérateur télécom Orange dédiée à la pose et la maintenance de câbles Internet sous-marins. Le lendemain, la situation s’est aggravée ; le pays a été coupé des services de réseaux sociaux, rendant l’utilisation du VPN obligatoire dans les communications du pays. Les travaux sur le câble sous-marin ont été reportés ainsi que le référendum constitutionnel. Le référendum adopté permettra au président Alpha Condé âgé de 82 ans de briguer un troisième mandat. Une partie de la population conteste le référendum avec manifestations organisées dans plusieurs parties du pays. Dans une déclaration signée par Paradigm Initiative et d’autres organisations dans la coalition #KeepItOn, la correspondance demandait au gouvernement de surseoir les chantiers sur le câble sous-marin dans une période critique de lutte contre le Covid-19.

Fake news et violation des droits numériques ?

Le Maroc a adopté, le jeudi 19 mars, le projet de loi n° 22.20 relatif à l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux et canaux similaires dans le pays. Le projet de loi adopté et présenté par le ministre de la Justice s’inscrit dans le cadre des mesures juridiques et institutionnelles de lutte contre les nouveaux modèles de cybercriminalité. L’un des objectifs de cette loi est de lutter contre les fausses informations sur le Covid-19. Les activistes en ligne craignent que cette loi encourage les violations des libertés sur Internet au Maroc.

En début 2020 au Benin, plusieurs acteurs de la société civile et des organisations de défense des droits des journalistes ont formulé des plaidoyers pour demander la libération du journaliste béninois Ignace Sossu condamné le 24 décembre 2019 à 18 mois de prison ferme pour des publications controversés sur les réseaux sociaux. En effet, le 19 décembre 2019, à la suite d’un atelier sur les infox organisé par CFI à Cotonou, Ignace Sossou présent aux échanges avait relayé sur ses pages Facebook et Twitter des propos attribués au procureur de la République du Bénin. Une plainte initiée par ce dernier avait alors été déposée contre Ignace Sossou. Le procureur de la République du Bénin signifiant que les propos relayés sortaient de leur contexte.

Rigobert Kenmogne, lauteur de cet article  est responsable programme droits numériques en Afrique Francophone

Lire notre Rapport 2019 sur les droits numériques en Afrique >>> ici 

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