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Plaidoyer

Human Rights online, Violations and Government Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, DRIMF, Politique de TIC, Liberté d'Internet

In Zimbabwe, there are an estimated 4.81 million internet users with 980 thousand social media users as of January 2020. The circulation of fake news regarding the pandemic is a key concern, and this has been met with a strong response from African governments. In Zimbabwe, the president has warned that a penalty of 20 years in jail will be leveled against anyone circulating fake news on social media. The penalty is excessive and criminal defamation laws are discouraged in the protection of freedom of expression. 

The Covid 19 pandemic saw a flood of information being published online. Print media moved online and the period saw a rise in citizen journalism as many people were home with plenty of time. News on politics and corruption were broken online, which gave the news more reach than it had before the pandemic, and this to some extent rattled those in power and state authorities.

Many African countries, Zimbabwe included while grappling with containing the virus in its early days were involved in activities that violated online and digital rights of citizens. The internet has for example been used to share information  through contact tracing, surveillance, collecting information and contact details of people via mobile telephone networks.

Nigeria for example attempted data surveillance with mobile applications, and announced flight details of people whom they had difficult tracking. In Kenya, nude photographs of COVID-19 patients were posted and shared on social media. 

In South Africa, cell phone operators agreed to release customers data to the government of South Africa and also set new regulations criminalising disinformation on the COVID-19 outbreak.

In Zimbabwe some of the fake news circulating on social media includes statements such as, “drinking alcohol will kill the coronavirus’ , it’s ok to share facemasks’, ‘Africans cannot get Covid 19’ and also that exercise will protect people from COVID-19.

Other false information which circulated on social media include statements like, COVID-19 thrives  in winter, and people saying taking a hot bath will prevent them from contracting Covid 19 all which are mythical and therefore untrue. Another myth which was circulating on social media is that ‘mosquito bites spread corona virus’ and that during seasons when mosquitoes are not there the disease doesn’t spread that much. Pamela from Mbare, one of the old suburbs in Zimbabwe said, “blacks rarely die due to coronavirus’. It’s just a disease that infects them, just like a common cold and then it disappears. 

Organisations such as Zimfactcheck are playing a watchdog role by fact-checking news and information on the public sphere so that the general public can receive verified news, information and related facts in the wake of the rise in misinformation.

Also within the pandemic period many countries witnessed a collection of sensitive data for example in Zimbabwe, the government was able to access people’s mobile telephone numbers and share updates and related information on the corona virus pandemic.   

In Zimbabwe, people’s right to access information online was further restricted by the digital divide. In rural areas for example  very few people have smartphones and know how to use the internet to access information. 

In urban areas, the constant power cuts limits the time that people can access internet services as electricity power cuts affect internet connectivity. 

The activities of most governments during the pandemic violated citizen’s right to privacy, and their right to freedom of expression and access to information as well as the right to dignity of persons. 

Respecting and fulfilling human rights is primarily the responsibility of state authorities and those who feel violated should seek remedy through their local legislation, courts and international responsibility.

Governments should ensure continuity and expansion of community based services so that people will have options close to them in terms of remedies.

As has been highlighted they are many violations with data privacy in many countries and these have been enabled by laws and policies governing online media. In Ghana for example emergency laws were used to collect data from telecoms for contact tracing purposes. 

 

By Patience Shawariran | PINs 2021 Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow

E – GOVERNANCE IN GHANA BY LUKMAN MAHAMI ADAMS.

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, DRIMF, Liberté d'Internet

The American Library Association defines digital literacy as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information. A person is considered a digital literate when he / she can efficiently use digital devices such as laptops, phones, tablets in the exchange of information. As a result of the advent of internet and social media, digital literacy has shifted from the use of technological devices in the sharing of information to the use of internet and social media in the sharing of information. The internet and social media are inextricably connected. One cannot share information on social media without having access to the internet. The internet has had a significant influence on many industries such as education, governance, marketing just to mention a few. The prefix ‘e’ signifies electronic which is synonymous to online has been widely used to represent the internet in diverse industries. Typical examples include e-commerce, e-learning. e-governance, and e-voting. 

The purpose of this article is to examine how governments and institutions in Ghana have leveraged the internet and social media to bring their services closer to the citizens. This analysis will contribute to bridging the information gap that exits between traditional / legacy and new media users in Ghana. This is necessary to be examined because of the widespread appreciation of internet and social media in Ghana. According to Datareportal (2020), internet penetration stood in Ghana at 48% in January 2020 with a total number of 14.76 million internet users in Ghana. The common social media platforms in Ghana include WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat among others. Issaka (2015) indicated that Facebook was the most visited site in Ghana. He further indicated that Facebook was the most visited social media platform ahead of local news sites and even the search engine giant, Google. In a recent survey conducted by NapoleonCat, there were 8,197, 000 Facebook users in Ghana as at February, 2021.  This eight million plus Facebook users accounts for 26% of the entire population.

Electronic governance / e – governance can simply be defined as the virtual or online form of decision making or making decisions on the internet. The key characteristics of governance are transparency and accountability. Government institutions must not only use traditional media such as television, radio and print to keep the citizens informed on happenings in their respective institutions but should go beyond traditional media to include new media that is internet and social media to mitigate the information gap between the offline and online audiences. 

Institutions have physical offices in which they conduct operations, so there is the need to create online offices as well to ensure equity in executing mandates such as accountability and transparency. We are in a globalized world hence the use of advanced technology and new media, when leveraged, would attain maximum human capital, specifically time and money. It is expected of every institution to have global visibility especially when it is mandated to serve the interest of an information consuming public. Social media platforms provide opportunities for not just individuals but organizations and institutions as well. Notable state institutions have seen the need of online inclusion and have included it in their operations. The institutions that engage in active e-governance include the Office of the President of Ghana, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Health, Parliament of Ghana, Ghana Health Service Ministries, few Departments and Agencies and some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in Ghana. 

The Parliament of Ghana is an active user on the internet and social media.  Parliament of Ghana has a verified account on Facebook with a following in excess 9 million. The platform engages the public by providing verbal and nonverbal content of the activities of Parliament.  https://m.facebook.com/Parliament.of.Ghana/ The platform also broadcasts live parliamentary proceedings to keep the online community abreast with information on bills, debates, voting among others. The just ended presentation of the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy was transmitted live on Parliament’s Facebook platform. Ministerial vetting as well as the President’s State of Nations Address (SONA) have all been made available through Facebook. This provides the listeners who had no access to traditional media an opportunity to be part of the information society. Social media can be accessed at all places and all times and thus admired for its mobility. The weakness associated with the online inclusion by parliament is that, its inclusion is limited to Facebook users leaving out the users of Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. This can be attributed to the fact that Facebook has the highest number of users compared to other platforms. This should not be the justification, as the choice of social media platform is subjective. Parliament should ensure to accommodate all social media users on other platforms to ensure uniformity in the information society.

Unlike the Parliament of Ghana, the Office of the President includes both Twitter and Facebook users. The Presidency has verified accounts on Twitter and Facebook which actively engages the citizens on a daily basis. It also provides both verbal and nonverbal content for its followers. The President of Ghana has been very informative to the public as he regularly updates Ghanaians on the COVID-19 situation in Ghana through Facebook live. The Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service have also leveraged on social media to provide information on COVID – 19.

In conclusion, state institutions need to take a clue from the likes of Parliament of Ghana, Ministry of Information and the Office of the President and include the online community in their activities. A state policy directing all state institutions to include new media in their operations will be a step in the right direction as the disregard for internet visibility by some institutions should not continue as it creates a sense of backwardness in the information society.

 

By Lukman Mahami Adams|PINs Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow.

 

Voici comment les gouvernements répliquent les pratiques de violations des droits numériques et d’arrêts d’Internet en Afrique francophone.

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, Politique de TIC

Le contexte des droits numériques s’améliore progressivement, visiblement dans certains pays d’Afrique francophone. Si certains pays comme le Gabon, le Congo ou la République centrafricaine (RCA) en Afrique centrale ne sont pas régulièrement sous les feux de la rampe, d’autres comme le Cameroun, le Tchad et la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) sont fréquemment dans l’actualité liée soit au numérique violations des droits en général ou à la privation des libertés de leurs citoyens sur Internet. Ces derniers mois, cependant, ces pays ont montré de légères améliorations dans le classement des pays où les violations des droits numériques sont courantes dans la région. Mais, en observant les diverses violations des droits numériques ces dernières années, des cas de coupures d’Internet, d’arrestations de journalistes ou d’activistes en ligne ont inspiré d’autres pays de la région à adopter de nouvelles approches pour violer les droits humains en ligne. En particulier la RDC, le Tchad, le Togo, le Bénin entre autres.

Depuis 2017, le Cameroun est classé par les organisations de défense des droits numériques comme le pays avec la plus longue coupure d’Internet en Afrique. Les coupures d’Internet au Cameroun en 2017 ont incité plusieurs gouvernements qui n’avaient pas encore subi de violations des droits numériques dans un contexte de crise politique grave à adopter des mesures similaires. En effet en 2017, quelques mois après l’éclatement de la crise anglophone (deux régions anglophones du pays) en 2016 qui a conduit à des mouvements séparatistes et identitaires, le gouvernement du Cameroun a ordonné la fermeture d’internet dans ces deux régions du pays; le Nord-Ouest et le Sud-Ouest. Cette action gouvernementale avait violé les droits numériques de plusieurs Camerounais vivant dans ces deux régions, en isolant les communications et Internet avec les Camerounais vivant en dehors de ces régions et ceux des étrangers. Ces actions de privation des droits Internet ont conduit à plusieurs conséquences socio-économiques. Depuis, les actions des ONG, organisations de défense des droits numériques, ont été de plaider et de présenter les conséquences socio-économiques et sociopolitiques des coupures d’Internet tant pour le gouvernement que pour les populations comme arguments contre les coupures. Cependant, cela n’a pas découragé les autres pays de la région. Ils ont été inspirés et savent qu’ils peuvent faire taire la dissidence, les protestations des citoyens ou d’autres formes de soulèvement en perturbant Internet.

En 2018 en RDC, le gouvernement a adopté des mesures de privation d’internet similaires à celles du Cameroun en 2017 pour étouffer les manifestations et les revendications des opposants au régime de l’ancien président Kabila au lendemain des élections législatives présidentielles, nationales et provinciales en République démocratique du Congo (RDC). En 2019, lorsque Fayulu a contesté l’élection du président Tshisekedi, Internet a été coupé pendant 20 jours dans le pays. Comme ce qui s’est passé au Cameroun, la décision de fermer Internet a été prise par les ministères en charge des secteurs des TIC. Les opérateurs de téléphonie se sont conformés aux directives gouvernementales de privation d’Internet afin d’éviter dans certains cas le retrait de leurs licences ou d’autres mesures qui pourraient avoir un impact négatif sur leur activité.

À la veille de l’élection présidentielle de 2018 au Cameroun, il y avait des rumeurs de coupure d’Internet. Les actions des organisations de défense des droits de l’homme à travers le plaidoyer avaient poussé le gouvernement à exclure la possibilité de coupures d’Internet pendant les élections. L’annonce d’une coupure Internet s’inscrivait dans le même contexte que celui de 2018 en RDC. Malgré les assurances du gouvernement, des interruptions Internet ont été enregistrées sur certaines plateformes telles que Facebook le jour des élections. Le Cameroun a frôlé la deuxième coupure d’Internet au vu des tensions en cette période pré-électorale.

Au Tchad, depuis 2016, le gouvernement a régulièrement perturbé et ordonné la fermeture des plateformes de médias sociaux et des services SMS. Une privation de libertés sur Internet, notamment Facebook et Twitter, qui reste d’actualité dans le pays. L’objectif de l’action du gouvernement est d’étouffer la voix des Tchadiens sur les plateformes web. Cette technique a inspiré la RDC en 2018 et d’autres pays du continent à restreindre des revendications politiques similaires, comme au Cameroun en 2017. Le Tchad a continué à subir des perturbations des plateformes de médias sociaux jusqu’en 2020, malgré l’annonce par le président de la restauration de la connexion internet et les plateformes de médias sociaux au début de 2020 dans un communiqué de presse.
Le 9 Mars, 2020 République démocratique du Congo,Premier ministre Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba et le ministre des Postes,Télécommunications,nouvelles informations et technologies communication, Augustin Kibasa Maliba signé décret no 20/005 sur « certifications appareils mobiles». Le décret mentionne que tout utilisateur d’un téléphone mobile devra s’acquitter, via son opérateur téléphonique, d’une taxe de 1 USD pour les appareils mobiles 2G ou de 7 USD pour les appareils mobiles 3G, 4G ou plus, pour leur certification par l’Agence de régulation des télécommunications par l’inscription dans le registre central de la base de données IMEI ».

En octobre 2020 au Cameroun, une décision conjointe du ministère des Postes et Télécommunications et du ministère des Finances annonçait le paiement de taxes sur les téléphones et tablettes Android à hauteur de 33% d’une manière similaire à celle de la RDC. La décision sur les impôts au Cameroun a été suspendue par une note de la présidence après de vives disputes sur cette fiscalité. Aussi, dans le contexte de la crise du coronavirus, le gouvernement camerounais a annoncé le paiement d’une taxe de 19,25% sur toutes les publicités au Cameroun sur la plateforme Facebook et autres plateformes internet depuis le 1er octobre 2020. Cette décision dans le contexte de la crise a été interprétée au Cameroun comme une autre violation des droits numériques, car il n’a été soumis à aucun processus d’engagement des parties prenantes. Le Cameroun a été inspiré par l’introduction de ces taxes en raison de stratégies similaires du Bénin en 2019 sur les services over-the-top (OTT). Cependant,sa décision de payer des taxes sur les OTT au Bénin a été retirée sous la pression des organisations internationales et locales.

Entre 2017 et 2020, plusieurs pays africains francophones se sont inspirés les uns des autres dans les pratiques de violations numériques et de privation de libertés sur internet. Lorsque les violations orchestrées par les gouvernements ne sont pas signalées, ou dans le contexte où les membres des sociétés civiles locales manquent de coordination et de stratégie de plaidoyer, les droits numériques sont régulièrement violés ou Internet est coupé comme d’autres. Chaque violation par les des droits numériques des gouvernements ou des opérateurs de téléphonie doit donc être mieux examinée afin de limiter les chances de réplication dans d’autres pays du continent africain en général et dans les pays d’Afrique francophone en particulier.

 

Par Rigobert Kenmogne | Responsable de Programme | Afrique Francophone

Demystifying Digital Exclusion

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, DRIF, DRIMF

IGI Global defines digital exclusion as the lack of access to, and use of, ICT resources or just the lack of technology resources and access thereof.

Put simply, digital exclusion is the inability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communication technologies, or the incapability to use the internet to do things that benefit individuals or organizations. This inability to access information can be termed as a disability.

Information Communication Technologies have contributed a lot to change our everyday life. From letters to e-mails, market shopping to on-line shopping, classroom learning to e-learning, etc. Yet, a significant proportion of the population is still digitally excluded.

These populations, excluded digitally, are considered socially disadvantaged and are therefore locked out of self-service channels. This matters as those who are excluded digitally are also far more likely to be disadvantaged according to many other social and economic measures. The digital divide exacerbates inequality.

Impacts

Effects of the digital divide are immensely felt in the following areas: Education, job opportunities, communication, politics, consumer satisfaction, health Information, community Involvement, government, and emergency information

Causes of digital exclusion

Although access or lack of it is believed to be the major cause of the exclusion, there are other contributory factors.

Choose.co.uk reports that the four main factors contributing to digital exclusions include; Access: both physical and financial, Motivation: including understanding or appreciation of the benefits, Skills: including whether people have any available means of learning ICT skills and Confidence: including fears of fraud and online security.

Impacts

The effects of the digital divide are felt in various areas of life. These include education, job opportunities, communication, politics, consumer satisfaction, health Information, community involvement, government, and emergency information.

As Stanley Chege, GCIO at Jubilee Insurance observes, ‘digital gaps’ or differences in the ability to access data and digital technologies are widening both between and within countries.

“Internet usage ranges from as high as 87 percent of the population in high-income nations to as low as 17 percent in low-income nations. While nearly four-fifths of countries have implemented regulations on e-commerce and data protection, government responses continue to be outpaced by the speed of digitalization,” he avers adding, “Public officials need to narrow this regulatory gap, not least due to technology’s growing influence on human interaction, health, and belief systems.”

With Covid-19 came the surge in internet usage as organizations shifted to work remotely and learning had to be conducted online. But as the United Nations University reports in a blog, the transition to work, learn, and socialize online has not been easy.

“Our current experience with COVID-19 shows that the transition to these extraordinary circumstances is far from smooth. More specifically, people without access to ICTs are even more disadvantaged than before. In many cases, the lifeline provided by technologies is only available to those who can access them,” says the blog.

The exclusion, therefore, means that when so much is expected to be happening online, an equal much is not happening due to the inability to go online.

Solution

Having known the many factors contributing to the digital divide, what can be the solution to it?

Eddie Kabiru, the Principal Officer at Bond Insurance Agency notes that there cannot be a one size fit solution for the divide. He, however, opines that policies directed towards inclusion in the digital space would go a long way to overcome many of the barriers preventing the said inclusion.

“The provision of technical support to assist people with getting online is vital. Stakeholders should collect quality digital data and establish a robust baseline for a minimum digital living standard,” he averred. Adding, “Victims of digital exclusion should be co-producers of these strategies.”

Kabiru runs a digital insurance agency and has first-hand experience working with those digitally excluded.

Digital Divide Council recommends the below five ways to help curb digital exclusion.

1. Increasing internet affordability. This will ensure that those who cannot afford the cost of the internet and those locked out due to the cost of owning or accessing internet gadgets are included.

2. Empowering users. “To see the full potential of the internet and its impact on the world, we must take advantage of its capabilities. Most of the people who use the internet have a limited understanding of some of its use cases. For instance, Google helps people find information that they would not have access to. An issue that broadens the digital divide is ‘participation inequality’ where users lack the skills to use it,” reads the Top Five Digital Divide Solutions in part.

3. Internet infrastructure development like providing a public safety net to offer internet access to facilities like libraries, health, and welfare service, and improving the relevance of online content will help curb digital exclusion.

 

Par Molly Wasonga, Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow 2021.

Open Letter Calling For President Edgar Lungu to Defer Signing of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill 2021

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, TIC, Liberté d'Internet

Dear President Edgar Lungu,

Following the passing of the third reading of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill 2021 on the floor of Parliament on 9th March 2021. Paradigm Initiative calls on you to defer the signing of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 as it has the potential to severely infringe upon fundamental human rights of citizens, such as the right to access information, the right to freedom of expression, right to privacy, and the right to associate and assemble online.

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. Our 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); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Our digital rights advocacy efforts include media campaigns, coalition building, capacity building, research, report writing, hosting the annual bi-lingual pan-African Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum, and promotion of Digital Rights and Freedom legislation.

While we note the progressive provisions and the need for a law that protects citizens against cybercrime and fosters cybersecurity, we also wish to remind the Zambian government of its constitutional, regional and international obligations to protect the civil liberties of Zambians.

Specifically, we wish to remind the government of its constitutional obligations to safeguard;

  • Freedom of Expression and Access to information under Article 20 which provides for the sharing and receiving of information without interference, whether public or private
  • Freedom of Assembly and Association under Article 21 which provides for freedom of assembly and association without hindrance
  • Privacy under Article 17 guarantees the protection of privacy of home and property and no  person shall be subjected to the search of their person, property, or the entry by others on their premises unless by the subject’s consent

We wish to also remind the government of its international obligations to safeguard and promote;

  • Freedom of Expression under Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The   UN   Human   Rights   Committee states that “any restrictions on the operation of websites, blogs, or any other internet-based electronic or other such information dissemination systems” must comply with Article 19”.
  • Privacy under Article 17 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected  to  arbitrary  or  unlawful  interference  with  his  privacy,  family,  home  or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.”

Further, Zambia’s regional obligations to the following regional instruments on freedom of expression and access to information; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Windhoek Declaration, African Platform on Access to Information, and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.

The Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 in its current form is anti-freedom of expression, anti-freedom of assembly, anti-freedom of association, and anti-privacy and presents several problematic clauses that infringe on digital rights and may provide avenues for abuse and in the long run will be detrimental to the work of human rights defenders, civil society, bloggers, journalist and ordinary citizens who provide the necessary checks and balances.

For instance;

  • Section 54 prohibits the publication of false information, criminalizing “false” news or “false” content will stifle independent media, especially those with critical voices, create a climate of censorship and undermined public debate thereby weakening democracy, and limit legitimate information sharing by those who use the internet for civic work and to expand democracy. Moreover, a similar provision in the Penal Code was declared unconstitutional by the High Court in 2014.
  • Sections 9 and 11 provide excessive powers to cyber inspectors who are mandated to monitor, inspect, search and seize with a warrant, however, there are no limits as to the nature, scope, or duration of warrants.
  • Sections  6, 7, 8, 13, and 14 of the bill create two new bodies to address cybersecurity and cybercrimes, give the ‘Authority’ power to appoint “cyber inspectors, the ‘Director-General’ of the ‘Authority’ to appoint ‘cybersecurity technical experts, as well as provide vast powers for the ‘Authority’ and ‘Minister’ who are put in charge of the new bodies that have the power to control virtually all internet activity in Zambia without appropriate safeguards to oversee such actions.  
  • Section 7 of the bill establishes the National Cybersecurity Advisory and Coordinating Council constituted of part-time experts in cybersecurity and cybercrime. The provision however does not state the qualifications nor the criteria for selecting these part-time experts. This gives way for the Council to be made up of partial people who may use it as a tool for surveillance.
  • Section 29 grants law enforcement officers to verbally request service providers to intercept communications of citizens without a warrant if they have a reasonable belief that there is the possibility of cybercrime. This gives room for interception of the private communications of citizens on very vague grounds that have no relation to cybersecurity.
  • Section 65 seeks to criminalise hate speech with broad provisions that state that any statement directed at a particular group that is interpreted as hostile may amount to hate speech and interpretation of this is left to law enforcement officers.

Overall the bill grants excess powers to law enforcement officers and provides inadequate judicial oversight for surveillance activities, and this threatens the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and other digital rights.

Furthermore, we note that Cabinet approved ratification of the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection 2014 (Malabo Convention), therefore we urge the government to consider deferring the bill until such a time when the Malabo Convention is fully ratified in Zambia as a commitment to the protocols set out in the Convention to protect critical ICT infrastructure, personal data and to encourage the free flow of information and contribute to a developed and credible digital space in Africa. In addition, to consider aligning the bill to global best practice standards including but not limited to the provisions of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrimes of 2001.

While we commend the efforts made to foster stakeholder consultation, we, however, wish to register our displeasure at the ‘last-minute’ manner in which stakeholders were engaged and informed of internal legislative review meetings and the rushed manner in which the bill was read on the floor of Parliament through a motion to suspend Standing Order 100 of the National Assembly of Zambia’s Standing Orders 2016. These measures did not give the public and Members of Parliament ample time to propose objections or amendments to the pieces of legislation.

In closing, we strongly urge you-  President Lungu, to withhold signing the Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 until after the August 2021 general elections to allow for more consultations with stakeholders and subsequent amendment of the worrisome clauses.

For more information about contact: media[at]paradigmhq[.]org

 

Call for Applications: Research Assistants

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, TIC

Paradigm Initiative and Olumide Babalola LP are looking for three (3) Research Assistants to support a 3-month project that will undertake a critical evaluation of issues surrounding the establishment, independence, impartiality, and efficiency of Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) in the last two decades of their existence in Africa.

Project Description

The first data protection legislation in Africa was enacted by Cape Verde in 2001 and as of July 2020, about thirty-three (33) other African countries had either passed laws or issued regulations on the subject. This number represents over 60% of the 55 countries on the continent and such progression was meant to, expectedly, boost regulatory activities and more visible enforcement of data protection rights by the gatekeepers. There exists no comprehensive report on the nature, modus operandi, and efficiency of DPAs in Africa. The knowledge gap in this area is palpable and whether by commission or omission, African DPAs’ activities and role-playing have remained in the background. The research project aims to focus on African DPAs’ situation report since the pioneering Cape Verdean Act in 2001 and the proposed case study research method will involve the assertive collection of statistics and verifiable data on the role-playing of the DPAs with a juxtaposition of their legislative and/or socio-political limitations over the years.

Qualifications

To support this research project, we are calling for applications from qualified enthusiasts to support research in Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone African countries. Researchers must be residents in the African region they wish to support research activities for and be fluent in the relevant official language(s). While research skills are absolutely essential, we are eager to work with team members who are organized, follow through on all tasks, and can coordinate work with remote teams.

Application and additional details

Qualified and interested applicants should fill out ce formulaire before March 25, 2021. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews and that the expected start date is the first week of April 2021. The role is part-time, may require up to approximately sixty (60) 2-hour days over the project period, and will be compensated at a rate of up to the equivalent of $15 per hour.

Paradigm Initiative Launches Call for Short Movie Production Proposals – LONDA

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, TIC

After the successful production and distribution of Training Day, an audio-visual presentation of PIN’s 2019 Digital Rights report. In this path, PIN recently announced an open call for proposals to a second short film of its 2020 Digital Report dubbed Londa: A Report on the State of Digital Rights and Inclusion in Africa which presents the
state of digital rights in 20 African countries and makes key recommendations
for Digital Rights and Inclusion protection.

The production of the script is expected to take place in the last week of February with the actual production of the movie expected to commence on March 1, 2021. PIN expects a finalised film product by 20 April 2021. Londa is expected not to exceed twenty minutes, a motion picture that can be viewed and understood by all audience segments within Africa while using very simple, inclusive, and comprehensible language.

The call for proposals this year is targeting cutting-edge audio-visual companies to produce and distribute Londa. Because we understand that production and distribution consist of many elements, collaborative pitches of more than one applicant are welcome. The company will oversee the production and distribution of the movie within Africa and beyond.

Roselyn Ifeoma Micheal: The skills I acquired from L.I.F.E has set me on the path to success

Par | AbaLIFE, Plaidoyer, AjegunleLIFE, Droits numériques, Échos de la vie, TIC, LA VIE, Non classé

I got to hear about the training through a friend who graduated from the training earlier. The change I saw in her was what motivated me to join the training. I had my fears as I hadn’t touched a computer before, but she assured me that it would not be a problem as the instructors will guide me through the steps and processes. Based on her encouragement, I picked the form and passed through the selection process, and was among the selected few.

During the training, I was nervous when it came to handling the mouse or practicing what was taught. But thankfully, the trainers and officers at the center were so understanding and they helped me overcome my phobia which made the learning process easy.

I was impacted by the training in so many ways. Before the training, I believed acquiring digital skills was meant for extraordinary minds, but all those perceptions were changed during the training as I saw myself doing things I couldn’t have imagined doing before joining the training.

This was not only in digital skills, even the entrepreneurship skills classes exposed me to things I did not know about. Like generating ideas that can change my community, and then my social and communication skills were not left out as I have moved from a timid girl that I used to be to a bold person that can address any gathering comfortably now.

I am so grateful that the skills I acquired from this training have set me on the path to success since I left the training. I will proudly say that with the help of the skills I got, I now work as a secretary in a law chamber and the salary has helped me in contributing to the upkeep of my house making my family more proud of me.

These Institutions exist to create a system of checks and balances, PINs Program Officer, Anglophone West-Africa reacts to Peoples Gazette Clampdown

Par | Plaidoyer, TIC

Nigerian online news platform Peoples Gazette recently witnessed disruptions on their website. According to reports, these disruptions were based on directives from the Nigerian government to MTN, Glo Mobile, and other telecommunication firms.

The disruptions came as a probable result of the constant criticism of the Nigerian government, coverage of the #ENDSARS protest, and its aftermath which led to blockage of the website and use of alternate URLs by the news media during the restriction.

In a press release by Peoples Gazette Managing Editor, Samuel Ogundipe, he pointed out that “It has always been the duty of the news media to bring to public awareness corrupt practices in the public and private sector, and the flagrant abuse of human rights and the rule of law”.

He further stated that the disruption was targeted sabotage of the work done to throw more light on the darkest corners of Nigeria’s socio-political space.

Paradigm Initiative’s Program Officer, Anglophone West Africa, Khadijah El-Usman raised the importance of freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. “For any democracy to stand, the freedom to impart and express ideas must be protected and more importantly our reporters and journalists that make and shape the news need to be able to work without fear of harassment or intimidation”.

Furthermore, Khadijah highlighted PINs position saying “We need to get to a place as a country where public interest matters are reported without obstacles. Where the press can hold the government accountable unhindered, relay the wants and needs of citizens to government bodies, and provide a platform for the open exchange of information and ideas. These Institutions exist to create a system of checks and balances, to ensure that once one goes beyond its powers, the Government must also do its bit to protect institutions”.

In the meantime, Mr. Ogundipe encouraged readers to adopt the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) while visiting the new website or to follow Peoples Gazette Facebook page to access stories.

PIN Joins Civil Society Organisations in Myanmar to say ‘NO’ to the current Internet Shutdown in the Country

Par | Plaidoyer, Droits numériques, Politique de TIC, TIC, Non classé

Dear mobile operators and internet service providers in Myanmar, Right now, more than ever, the internet is integral to our survival. Without it we cannot stay connected with each other and the outside world, which heightens the risk for human rights violations against us.

Given this, we are writing with regards to your adherence to the shutdown of social media platforms. On February 3, 2021, mobile operators, international gateways, and internet service providers (ISPs) received a directive from the Ministry of Transport and Communications to block Facebook; on February 5, 2021, an additional directive was received to block the social media platforms Twitter and Instagram.

These directives were given by an illegitimate authority body – by engaging in an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power, the military does not have the right to be recognized as the governing body of Myanmar. By complying with their directives, your companies are essentially legitimizing the military’s authority, despite international condemnation of this very body.

Further, the rights to freedom of expression and information are protected under general international human rights law. As evidenced in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, any restrictions to freedom of expression must be necessary and proportionate to achieving a legitimate aim. With COVID restrictions and ongoing security risks in the country, the people of Myanmar rely on social media platforms to share their voices with each other and the world. The blocking of social media platforms with the intent to silence Myanmar people’s dissent cannot be perceived as a legitimate aim.

We call for mobile operators and ISPs to take every action available to appeal the recent junta directives. Telenor has stated that the directive has a legal basis under the Myanmar Telecommunications Law but this is questionable. Section 77 of the Telecommunications Law authorizes the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MOTC) in case an “emergency situation arises to operate for the public interest,” to direct a telecommunications licensee to
suspend service or “intercept or not to operate any specific form of communication.” According to the International Commission of Jurists, Section 77 is incompatible with international human rights law and standards on freedom of expression and information, which in turn brings into question the validity of the MOTC order.

Additionally, we understand that telecom operators are required to report on requests for personal user data. We would like assurance that your companies are only disclosing information related to life-or-death situations. Facilitating the military’s surveillance of activists and journalists puts them at severe risk.

Finally, we would like to remind all operators that under the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights, you have a duty to not enable or contribute to potential human rights violations. Shutting down an important means for the nation to communicate with one another and bear witness is part of the military’s strategy to illegally retain power, and would thereby allow for potential human rights violations to take place with impunity. To uphold your duty:

  • Mobile operators and ISPs must prevent the military from accessing user data.
  • Mobile operators and ISPs must take every action available to appeal the recent junta directives.
  • Mobile operators and ISPs must develop plans in the event the human rights situation in Myanmar deteriorates.

Your services and actions are needed by the people now more than ever.

Regards,
Myanmar Civil Society Organizations working on:
Human Rights,
Peace and Federal Democracy,
Justice and Accountability

 

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