Kenya, the next surveillance state?

Drew Mitnick contributed to this post. 


Legislators in Kenya will shortly make a decision with significant ramifications for the privacy and free expression rights of Kenyans. On International Human Rights Day (December 10), the Kenyan Parliament cynically introduced the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill (2014), which contains several sweeping and deeply worrying changes to the country’s surveillance laws.

A similar bill was proposed in July, though it stalled due to opposition. Parliament is currently considering the legislation in two sessions to discuss comments submitted by the public, after which lawmakers could vote on the bill.

If passed, the Security Bill will greatly expand the government’s authority to conduct surveillance without a warrant. It will also place new restrictions on expression, including criminalizing statements “likely to be understood” as encouraging acts of terrorism. The vague language of the legislation would grant Kenya’s security forces broad unchecked authority in a country where recent laws and policies have already placed user rights at risk.

Access strongly urges the Kenyan Parliament to reject the Security Law (Amendment) Bill when it comes up for a vote. Instead, Kenya should develop a comprehensive privacy law to further protect fundamental rights in Kenya.

Losing judicial oversight

The 90-page Security Bill would amend a number of Kenyan laws. One of the most noteworthy provisions is Article 66 on Covert Operations, which would permit extrajudicial surveillance. If enacted, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Service could order a “covert operation,” without court approval or review to enter any place, or to search or seize any record or communication. In fact, the bill would grant broad authority to “do anything considered necessary to preserve national security.”

This national security provision would be nearly limitless and flies in the face of international human rights law. Each act under the covert operation provision would remain valid for 180 days unless extended by the Director-General. There are no provisions for public accountability or oversight, the language would replace the existing section of the National Intelligence Service Act, which currently requires government agents to get a warrant from a judge of Kenya’s High Court when there is reasonable grounds to investigate terrorism.

The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights Law to Communications Surveillance, endorsed by more than 400 civil society groups, provide a comprehensive guide to crafting rights-based surveillance laws and illustrate the importance of judicial oversight in determining whether the government has met its burden to conduct surveillance. The Principles require communications surveillance activity to be approved by an independent, impartial, and competent judicial authority. Judges ensure there is adequate evidence for an interference with user privacy to be warranted, uphold rights, and protect against abuses of power. Unchecked surveillance is particularly ripe for abuse, and Access is deeply concerned about removing this important check on government surveillance in Kenya.

Freedom of expression

The bill would also place direct restrictions on free expression. Article 75 of the Security Bill would amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act, by creating new crimes restricting the free exercise of human rights. The amendment would not only make it illegal to issue statements “likely to be understood” as encouraging terrorism — it would outlaw the broadcasting of information that could “undermine” a terrorist investigation, greatly limiting the ability of journalists to report on counter terrorism efforts and potentially expose them to jail time.

New restrictions, same story

Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution provides: “Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have . . . the privacy of their communications infringed.” The Security Bill is the most recent effort to limit privacy by expanding Kenya’s surveillance authorities. In a significantly under-reported story, Kenya’s telecommunications regulator announced new regulations in January that grant it unfettered access to user’s private information without a court order.

The government is also reportedly moving ahead with a massive database project designed to collect and store the name, age, relatives, property owned, and residence of everyone living within Kenya. According to an official, the government expects to catalogue 70 percent of the country by June 2015. The government hopes to recover the costs of implementing this project by commercializing the database and has already partnered with the private Association of Kenya Credit Providers. Once completed, the database will drastically reduce the privacy of anyone living in Kenya. Their private information will not only be immediately vulnerable to the whims of government and private corporations, the database will also be a prime target for malicious actors, risking the security of everyone living in Kenya.

Outlook for the future

Despite the gloomy outlook, there is still the potential for positive developments for human rights in Kenya. Parliament has an immediate opportunity to reject the proposed Security Law (Amendment) Bill. The Supreme Court also enjoys the ability to overturn laws that conflict with the Constitution. And a recent report released in Kenya reveals growing dissatisfaction with the bill’s assault on human rights.

But time is running out. Access urges Parliamentarians to reject the bill. Instead, the government should restore human rights by developing a comprehensive privacy bill to protect Kenyans.

photo of entrance to Kenyan parliament by Jorge Lascar on a CC License

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.

African Media Law and Digital Native Roundup 2.0

Welcome to the second African Internet Policy & Media Law Roundup compiled by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito.  This edition of the roundup explores notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies and media laws from May through July 2014. Part one of this series on analysis of notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies and media laws is available here.

Across Africa

Strategic plans towards harmonization of ICT policies and regulations in Africa: During the fifth meeting of the heads of the ICT Units at the African Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and Associations of Regulators on Harmonization and Coordination of Regional and Continental ICT Programs, Projects and Activities all adopted a strategic plan, the “Continental ICT Strategy for Africa (CISA), for development up to 2024.” The plan emphasized the following areas: post and telecom infrastructure, capacity development, e-applications and services, enabling environment and governance, mobilization of resources and partnerships, industrialization, and research and development.

The month of May also saw the African Telecommunications Union present a draft strategic plan for 2014-2018 to its members. This plan emphasized the promotion of an optical fiber-based system and other infrastructure developments, innovation, and locally-created apps aimed at enhancing economic productivity in agriculture, livestock, and other fields.


Nearly 1/3 of African countries in the bottom 10% of the world rankings in a bi-annual UN E-Government Survey: The UN E-Government Survey assesses levels of digital interactions between the government and citizens, government agencies, government employees, and the private sector. This is important, as E-Government lowers the cost of the provision of services in a transparent government environment. The Survey found that Kenya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Ghana are the only African countries with an open government data portal, a database of government data such as budgets and expense reports that is free to re-use without copyright restrictions. Such portals are important, as they facilitate government transparency and accountability. Kenya was also noted as the only low-income country in the world with a portal that provides a section for web developers to integrate data.


African states working towards common cybersecurity norms and regulations: At a May 12-15, 2014 meeting, experts from the African Union members’ justice ministries undertook a thorough review of the draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace (AUCC). The draft was adopted and scheduled for presentation at the 23rd African Union Summit, June 20-27, 2014 to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The AUCC was adopted as the “African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.”


Internet freedom threatened by “terrorism” laws in East Africa? On May 23, 2014, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) released a report assessing the state of internet freedom in East Africa. The research highlighted legislation and state actions that limit internet freedom under the guise of fighting terrorism, cybercrime, and hate speech. The report determined these actions to be in contravention of constitutional rights provisions.


African internet users to worry about digital rights, not just access: The third annual Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF), which ran from May 27-28, 2014, held discussions on the state of internet freedom in Africa. Participants highlighted emerging challenges to human rights online across Africa, some of which included: privacy, cybersecurity, and data protection.



Botswana to implement a new five-year plan: The new Botswana Draft National Broadband Strategy (DBNS) aims to improve internet access in rural areas through addressing issues of poor network performance, limited or lacking services, and reliability. More specific priorities include increasing digital literacy and fostering content programs.



Central African Republic orders telcos to block SMS services: In a letter to mobile service providers sent on June 2, 2014, the Telecommunications Ministry ordered a nationwide shutdown of SMS service. This decision came after SMS was reportedly used to relay a general strike call. The government finally lifted its order on Friday, July 26, 2014.



Plans to privatize Comores Telecom (Comtel) shelved: The Comoros government encountered strong opposition from members of parliament as a result of their initial plans to privatize the country’s incumbent fixed line operator, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This plan was part of the Comoros’ initiative to reach the completion point of its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) external debt relief program, the cost of which amounted to EUR 133 million (USD 174.7 million). The opposition’s argument was based on the fate of Comores Telecom’s more than one thousand employees, as their futures would have hung in the balance had privatization plans continued.



Egypt government to monitor social media? A leaked “call for tenders” document outlines plans by the government to introduce a new system to carry out indiscriminate mass surveillance of social media in Egypt. The targeted websites include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and possibly mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Instagram. Government officials defended their surveillance plans, stating that monitoring the internet would counter “terrorism and the spread of information about manufacturing bombs and IEDs, as well as [prevent terrorists from] getting hold of manufacturing materials, electric circuits, the knowhow of remote explosions, and killings.” This development comes hot on the heels of the imprisonment of activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah.



Bloggers and citizen journalists continue to come under attack: Members of the Zone9 bloggers’ movement were taken to court to face charges for accepting assistance from a foreign NGO and “inciting violence through social media.” Zone9 bloggers wrote critical articles about the Ethiopian government regime and conducted online campaigns to raise public awareness about repression in the country. This attack on freedom of expression was challenged by seven international press freedom and human rights organizations.

Zone9 bloggers previously detained for nearly three months were charged with terrorism for having links to an outlawed group. The group, which began in the year 2012, had been inactive since October 2013.  On April 25, 2014, Ethiopian government officials arrested Zone9 bloggers for resuming their online activism.



Efforts to block chat and call apps including Viber and other VoIP services cause losses? Gambian telco companies reported massive “revenue loss” as a result of “technical hitches over the use of popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype and Viber.” Earlier in March, Gambia was without internet access for forty-eight hours. Economist Sidi Sanneh, who served as the country’s foreign minister in the mid-2000s, said the blackout resulted from government efforts to block chat and call apps such as Viber and other VoIP internet-based messaging and phone services.


Skype likened to a public broadcast? Gambian activist Lasana Jobarteh was found guilty of broadcasting without a license after using Skype on an iPod to broadcast a political rally to Gambians abroad. The conviction was made despite the fact that the Information and Communication Act (ICA), under which the activist was charged, was drafted to regulate television and radio broadcasts and not social media.



Communication regulator, National Communication Authority (NCA), cracks the whip on Expresso: Ghana’s Communication Regulator, NCA, banned the telco Expresso from implementing sales or marketing promotions until the end of May. This was a result of Expresso’s failure to meet the country’s Quality of Service (QoS) standards in the Northern, Eastern, and Volta regions during February 2014. The  regulator measured four key items including Stand-alone Dedicated Control Channel (SDCCH) Congestion Rate, Call Setup Time (CST), Call Congestion Rate and Call Drop Rate (CDR). Expresso network was not accessible in all three Northern regions during the period of testing due to total outage of its systems. This triggered the disciplinary measures levelled on the company.


Vodafone’s Ghana subsidiary barred from signing up new customers until the end of July; In June, Ghana’s telecom regulator, the National Communication Authority, directed Vodafone to investigate and rectify issues on their core network. Vodafone was instructed to submit their Consumer Compensation Plan to the Authority for approval after millions of Vodafone subscribers could not make calls, top up credit or use data bundles as a result of network outages during the first week of June. The telecom regulator banned Vodafone from acquiring new subscribers, selling new SIM cards, porting subscribers from other networks to Vodafone, introducing new services, and also banned them from promotions, offers and from all marketing communications. The ban was, however, lifted in the first week of July after Vodafone met all conditions set by the regulator.



Data protection bill ready for adoption: The Kenyan ICT Cabinet Secretary disclosed that a draft data protection bill was ready to be forwarded to parliament. The bill states procedures on personal data collection and storage, outlining that these duties would be carried out by an unspecified “agency.”

Cybersecurity strategy unveiled by government: Kenyan ICT Cabinet Secretary unveiled a Master Plan for cybersecurity with the following four key pillars:

●     Provide national leadership by defining the national cybersecurity vision, goals, and objectives, and coordinating cybersecurity initiatives at the national level.

●     Foster information sharing and collaboration among relevant stakeholders to facilitate an information-sharing environment focused on achieving the strategy’s goals and objectives.

  • Build national capability by raising cybersecurity awareness and developing Kenya’s workforce to address cybersecurity needs.
  • Enhance the nation’s cybersecurity posture in a manner that facilitates the country’s growth, safety, and prosperity.


Kenyan bloggers put under investigation for alleged hate speech:  Kenyan government’s National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring (NSCMM) was reported to be “compiling an exhaustive list of bloggers allegedly engaging in hate speech and incitement to be handed over to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) for action by June 9, 2014.” These developments come immediately after the release of a report detailing that actions and legal provisions aimed at controlling hate speech have had an impact on intermediary liability, free speech, and media freedom online, as well as on privacy of communications.


Freedom of expression versus hate speech regulation;  As a result of political tensions in Kenya, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) sent a warning to broadcasters regarding hate speech.  The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), had called for a political rally to air out their grievances, but Kenyan police questioned eighteen politicians from both the ruling party, Jubilee Coalition, and CORD (the opposition party) for engaging in hate speech. The warning resulted in a lack of media coverage for CORD’s rally.The regulator’s warning followed an event at which the ministry of ICT had unveiled #StopHatespeechKenya, a hashtag aimed at curbing online hate speech.


Kenya leads in requests for user data from Google: A report released assessing trends in government requests for user data found that out of fifty African countries, Kenya had the most requests, lodging eight demands in the last half of the year. In the first half of the year, no requests were lodged.



Mandatory SIM card registration by 2015Due to a review of the Communications Act, Malawi will soon require mandatory SIM card registration. The goal of mandatory registration is to reduce the criminal misuse of mobile phone. This move raised no eyebrows, despite the fact that photographs and identification documents will be recorded when one registers for a new number.


Internet Governance Forum launched in Malawi: The IGF was launched by the Malawi government and the New Partnership for Development (NEPAD) with the goal of bringing together businesses, non-governmental organizations, government, and end users for discussions about internet-related policy issues, ideas, and best practices.



Draft information society law in Mauritania infringes on digital rights: The Mauritanian government was said to discuss a draft information society law that potentially infringes on digital rights. Activists cited Article 18 of the draft as one of the most infringing provisions, as it stipulates that “all provisions in conflict with this law are annulled,” undermining other laws that “require interdiction prior to jailing journalists.” Other sections of concern included provisions addressing (and prohibiting) encryption, which would limit freedom of expression and privacy online.



Journalists, bloggers, and rappers continue to be under threat: Eleven protesters, including Ayoub “Simpson” Boudad, a student activist with Student Union for Educational System Reform (UECSE), and the National Students Union of Morocco (UNEM), were arrested during a protest aimed at voicing concerns about social and political issues affecting youth in the country. All arrested protesters were members of the February 20 Movement, a pro-democracy movement that began in February of 2011 during the immediate aftermath of the Arab spring. In another incident, Moroccan blogger and rapper Mouad Belrhouat, also known as El-Haqed (“The Enraged”) was arrested under circumstances in which witnesses stated that police officers intentionally picked a quarrel with him.



Electronic transaction law proposed: Namibia was considering the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during 2014’s Namibian elections. Ministry of Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana pointed out that the government anticipated passing the Electronic Transaction Law during the course of this year, as the electronic voting machines (EVMs) that were intended for use during this year’s national elections were “data-dependent.” By use of the phrase “data-dependent,” the Ua-Ndjarakana seemed to mean that the EVMs would be used to store data. The passage of the law was important to outline how electronic evidence would be treated or stored during the elections.



Regulator champions for anti-competitive practices? The Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) accused the communications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), of promoting anti-competitive practices through its policies, thus threatening the existence of small and medium enterprises in the ICT field.


Wikipedia Zero comes to Nigeria: Airtel Nigeria disclosed a strategic partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, which will allow Airtel Nigeria consumers to access to Wikipedia through their mobile phones, free of data charges. Wikipedia Zero was launched in 2012 with a “goal of working with every mobile operator on the planet so that everyone can access all the free knowledge on Wikipedia, even if they can’t afford the mobile data charges.”



Wikipedia Zero comes to Rwanda; MTN Rwanda disclosed its strategic partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, whereby MTN Rwanda consumers would have access to Wikipedia through their mobile phones free of data charges.



The balance between counter-terrorism and free expression: An amended counter-terrorism law in Somalia contains bans based on vague terms such as “disturb the peace,” “jeopardize the safety and security of society,” and “create fear in people’s lives,” which are broad in interpretation and could be used to suppress the freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights. The law was amended on July 10, 2014, by the Council of Ministers, and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) raised concerns about the law as it threatened freedom of expression.


Draft media law legalizes closure of media houses? At the beginning of July, Puntland Parliament passed a media law giving itself authority to leverage penalties, fines, and suspensions against journalists. The law allows for closure of media houses and restrains editorial independence of media outlet, simultaneously giving the Ministry of Information the power to unilaterally withhold or revoke media house registrations. According to this law, the ministry will also have the authority to issue and withdraw journalists’ identification cards. Plans to come up with a media law had begun in July 2013, with the Minister of Information, the late Ahmed Sheikh Jama, promising that the law would comply with international standards of freedom of expression.



Government concerned about fake Twitter account for the Deputy President: The government released a press statement stating that they had made a request to Twitter to close a fake account impersonating the country’s Deputy President. This resulted in tweets from the fake @CyrilRamaphosa Twitter account that questioned the government’s priorities:

“Gov should worry about service delivery, education, health care, but it releases statements about fake twitter accounts.”

Despite the government request, the account remains active.



Better internet under regulated communications nationwide: South Sudanese government officials disclosed the government’s plan to procure a bandwidth provider for its own operations and, simultaneously, a National Communications Authority (NCA) to regulate communications in South Sudan. It is not clear whether the regulator would be government-run or independent.



Facebook and Whatsapp to come under control? Sudan’s National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) was reported to be engaged in technical studies on social networking sites, specifically Facebook and Whatsapp, in an effort to control their use in Sudan. This was the result of a report submitted to parliament by the minister of communications, which outlined various “security” and “political problems” caused by social networking sites.



Contempt of court charges over critical articles: On July 17, 2014, the Swaziland’s High Court in Mbabane found two Swazi activists guilty of contempt of court as a result of articles published in The Nation magazine between February and March 2014 that criticized the conduct of Swaziland’s Chief Justice, Michael Ramodibedi.



Leaked cybercrime bill to infringe on digital rights? The law is criticised due to vague statements, as Article 24 provides for six-month imprisonment and a 5,000 Tunisian Dinar (about $2,900 USD) fine for anyone who uses, “information and communications systems to spread content showing obscene acts and assaulting good morals.” Also under Article 31, Ministers of Interior and Defense can authorize government access to users’ identification and traffic data.


Tunisian activist Azyz Amami arrested on fabricated charges? On May 12, Azyz Amami was arrested on charges of marijuana possession. Critics challenged the charges as an ongoing trend of Tunisian authorities disguising politically-motivated arrests. Azyz worked on the Ammar 404 campaign to demand an end to state surveillance and censorship. He was also one of the most vociferous advocates on behalf of the families of those harmed or killed during the 2010-11 uprising, and, since 2008, has blogged against state abuse and police aggression.



Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to regulate social media content and internet usage? The UCC’s executive director Godfrey Mutabazi stated that there was a need to enforce discipline among internet users so that the rights of other people were not infringed upon. Mutabazi disclosed that the UCC would work with security operatives and IT experts to monitor internet activity and content to make sure that people use social media and internet responsibly. There was no immediate reaction to this, though it is notable that in April 2011, Mutabazi’s office asked Internet service providers to black out Facebook and Twitter for 24 hours, “to eliminate the connection and sharing of information that incites the public.”


Google super-fast internet comes to Kampala; Google executives disclosed that they chose Kampala as the first capital city in Africa to benefit from Project Link. Project Link is Google’s fiber-optic network building project. The network will run throughout the metro area and will connect local internet providers to high quality infrastructure.



Government orders diplomats abroad against reading online news: The Zambian government expressed concern that its diplomats abroad are relying on online publications for information. The government accused these online publications of peddling lies about the president. This order could not, however, be enforced, as various Zambian diplomats are located in locations outside of government control.


Zambia drafting a national child online protection strategy: The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) put forward the strategy in an effort to protect youths from cyberbullying.



Progressive court ruling about criminal defamation: Zimbabwe’s highest court declared a criminal defamation law unconstitutional. Local journalists say the law was used to restrict the freedom of the press. The Court had “found that the applicants had discharged the onus of showing that Section 31 of the Criminal Code was not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for the protection of the public interest in public order or public safety.”


Facebook Zero comes to Zimbabwe; Telecel disclosed a strategic partnership with Facebook, which would allow Telecel consumers to access to Facebook through their mobile phones free of data charges. Subscribers will not be charged for any text but will be charged for images, video clips, and third party sites they choose to view.


Twitter Zero comes to Zimbabwe; Econet disclosed a strategic partnership with Twitter that will allow Econet consumers to access Twitter through their mobile phones free of data charges.


Featured Photo Credit:AttributionSome rights reserved by Abri_Beluga

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on CGCS Media Wire.

Access at 51st ICANN International Public Meeting

With numerous internet governance discussions scheduled, the 51st International Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been going on this week in Los Angeles, USA. Access staff is there, participating in a variety of pre-events, workshops, and high-level meetings, and we want you to follow these discussion.

ICANN is the international non-profit organization that brings together individuals, governments, companies, non-commercial actors, and the technical community to debate and develop policies to coordinate the domain name system. ICANN meetings are held three times a year in different continents and are always multistakeholder — meaning that they bring together representatives from the corporate world, government, and civil society.

Cool. Why should I care?

In March 2014, the US government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to end its 16-year oversight of ICANN. Since then the internet community has been engaging in various formal and informal discussions on the implications of this transition process. This was evident at ICANN 49 Singapore and also at ICANN 50 London where Access continued its participation as part of on-site Civil Society participants in advocating for ICANN accountability and transparency during this transition period.

As we spend the week in Los Angeles, we ought not to forget the ICANN 50 meeting in London,  had its interesting developments of which some include:

  • France’s attack on ICANN over ‘.vin’ and ‘.wine’ domain name suffixes
  • Unanimous statement from all the stakeholder groups and constituencies of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization expressing discomfort with ICANN’s current lack of transparency and accountability

Other events that have shaped the Los Angeles discussions include:

  • Government Advisory Committee proposal to ban top level domains that use a geographic word unless permission granted from governments (this goes back to the ‘.vin’ and ‘.wine’ polarised discussions and also on other human rights concerns at ICANN)
  • ICANN’s recent plan for “Enhancing Accountability”

Two important matters seem to have shaped all 2014 ICANN’s meetings:

  1. Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Transparency- Access promotes “enhancing ICANN accountability” and supports the position of various civil society actors in the internet governance process as expressed during the NetMundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance which concluded in April 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil; where a submission by Gabrielle Guillemin on behalf of Article 19 and Best Bits (of which Access is a member) focussed on this particular issue and called for accountability of the ICANN Board.

  2. Promoting human rights within ICANN- Greater awareness regarding ICANN’s role in considering human rights has resulted from several recent incidents, such as where an activist received a death threat as a result of her home address being available on the public Whois database that compiles the name, address, email and phone number of everyone registered to manage a domain name for a website.  As regards promotion of human rights in ICANN procedures and policies, Access supports the statement by the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group within ICANN (NCSG provides a voice and representation in ICANN processes to: non-profit organizations that serve noncommercial interests and nonprofit services). Access echoes NCSG’s call that, “the AOC should be amended to ensure that ICANN’s decisions are fully consistent with human rights standards. In this regard, ICANN should guarantee that decisions related to the global technical coordination of the DNS are made in a transparent and accountable manner and crucially, “for the protection and advancement of human rights and Internet freedoms” rather than “in the public interest,” which is a standard that lacks sufficient specificity in this context.”

Here’s a guide to some of the panels and events that Access has been in involved in (transcripts can be found on the links to the sessions):

CS @ ICANN: Enhancing Civil Society / NGO Participation in ICANN [Access participating]

[Saturday, October 11] 16:30 to 19:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Pacific Palisades)

The session was basically a networking session for Civil Society actors in internet governance and will have participants from advocacy and research organizations based in the U.S. and beyond who are involved in human rights, privacy protection, freedom of expression, access to knowledge, development, and related issues.

GNSO Working Session LA Sunday 12 October 2014 [Access participating]

[Sunday, October 12] 09:00 to 16:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Constellation)

The  GNSO (Generic Generic Names Supporting Organization is the ICANN Supporting Organization responsible for developing policy for the domain name system). Access staff are members of the GNSO through the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG). The session involved discussions on ICANN accountability and transparency activities, discussion with ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehadé,  further discussions on IANA stewardship transition / accountability discussions, and GNSO meeting with ICANN board.

GNSO Translation and Transliteration of Contact Information PDP WG [Access participating]

[Monday, October 13] 15:00 to 16:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Westwood)

Since the working group’s inception in 2013, Access staff have been members of the working group. This Policy Development Process Working Group has been tasked by the ICANN Generic Names Supporting Organization Council to address issues related to the potential need to translate and/or transliterate contact information data. The Working Group (WG) has developed an initial report. WG members gave a brief overview of the initial report and encouraged discussion with the multistakeholder community during this face-to-face meeting.

ICANN’s Public Responsibility [Access participating]

[Tuesday, October 14] 08:30 to 09:45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Olympic)

This was a discussion session on ICANN’s Public Responsibility, exploring the work of the Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD). Access took part in this multistakeholder discussion.

Non Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) [Access participating]

This was a discussion for members of the NCUC which is the civil society community. The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in ICANN’s GNSO.

NCUC advocates positions on domain name-related policies that protect and support noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. Among its key areas of interest are human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, access to knowledge, diversity and consumer choice, development, and global internet governance.

Human Rights and ICANN [Access participating]

[Wednesday, October 15] 13.15 to 14.45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Plaza Pavilion)

This was a civil society led discussion session on ICANN’s decisions and whether they are made “for the protection and advancement of human rights and Internet freedoms.” Access took part in this multistakeholder discussion.

2015 and Beyond – An Internet Governance Update [Access participating]

[Wednesday, October 15] 16:30 to 18:15 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

This session provided a discussion on internet governance activities in 2014 including NetMundial, the Internet Governance Forum (held last month in Istanbul), the World Summit on the Information Society Multistakeholder Preparatory Platform (WSIS MPP, amongst others.

Enhancing ICANN Accountability [Access participating]

[Thursday, October 16] 08:30 to 09:45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

This was a discussion on ICANN’s accountability to internet users and to members of the ICANN community. It was a great opportunity for interest parties to push for more accountability especially in the current IANA transition process.

Community Discussion with the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) [Access participating]

[Thursday, October 16] 10:00 to 12:00 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) is comprised of individuals selected by each represented stakeholder community. The Los Angeles meeting allowed for  a discussion with the multistakeholder community on various aspects of the IANA transition.

Access at the Internet Governance Forum

With the theme of “Connecting continents for enhanced multistakeholder Internet governance,” the ninth annual meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, 2-5 September 2014. Access staff is there, participating in a variety of pre-events, workshops, and high-level meetings.

The IGF is the annual policy dialogue which bring together representatives from various stakeholders from government, civil society, academia, private sector, and the technical community. It was first convened in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary General, and it continues to be a central gathering for digital rights advocates around the globe.

The 2014 IGF comes at a critical moment for internet governance, with some key meetings and announcements having occurred since the beginning of the year such as:

More meetings are planned to discuss much-needed reform of global internet governance, including:

Turkish Civil Society Reaction to the IGF in Istanbul: The UnGovernance Forum
Meanwhile, Turkish internet users and activists are frequently subject to censorship and digital rights violations (such as the 67-day-long YouTube ban) due to restrictive government policies. Some Turkish civil society groups and digital rights advocates have been frustrated at the inability for the IGF to directly confront this problem, and have decided to boycott this year’s event.

This reaction, combined with a lack of full Turkish civil society participation in the IGF, helped give rise to the Internet UnGovernance Forum (IUF). The event takes place on September 4 and 5 (see the official website for details) and will feature events and sessions that will compliment the official IGF proceedings.

Here’s a guide to the panels and events that Access is organizing, co-organizing, and participating in:

Digital Security Clinic
Day 1 [September 2] all day. (IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Day 2 [September 3] all day. (IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Day 3 [September 4] all day. Internet Ungovernance Forum [Bilgi University Santral Campus]
Day 4 [September 5] all day. Internet Ungovernance Forum [Bilgi University Santral Campus]

Access’ digital security helpline staff will be hosting clinics both at the IGF and the UnGovernance Forum. At these clinics conference participants can engage helpline staff with questions and concerns they have about their current digital security practices, needs, capacities. By providing one-on-one consultations, we aim to support participants as they examine their digital security practices and provide the resources necessary for them to secure.

Open Forum on the Guide on Human Rights for Internet Users [Access presenting as panelist]
Day 2 [Wednesday, September 3] 09:00-10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Room 9
This Open Forum, organized by Council of Europe, aims to discuss the role and future implementation of the Guide on Human Rights for Internet Users, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council in April 2014. The guide aims to “serve as a reference for all the stakeholders interested in promoting and guaranteeing the full enjoyment of human rights online.” Throughout the discussion, panelists will discuss important issues such as different multistakeholder mechanisms to empower internet users in order to ensure the full enjoyment of their rights and the ways through which non-European stakeholders can use the Guide.

Main/Focus Session: Network Neutrality: Towards a Common Understanding of a Complex Issue[Access presenting as panelist]
Day 2 [Wednesday, September 3] 14.30 – 17.30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center] 
Main Meeting Hall
The ninth IGF aims to better link with other internet governance processes such as NetMundial (see our review here). During that event, the IGF was identified as the appropriate forum to discuss the ever-pressing issue of Net Neutrality.
Appropriately, this year’s IGF will be addressing Net Neutrality in multiple ways. Access will be participating in a main-stage event on the issue, and we’ll also take advantage of IGF as the perfect setting to strategize with various civil society partners to find a joint approach to ending network discrimination.
As is the case for all of the main sessions at the IGF, the main Net Neutrality session will feature live transcription in English, interpretation in all six UN languages, and will be streamed live online.

Launch of the GISWatch Report 2014 [Access presenting]
Day 3 [Thursday, September 4] 1:00 – 2:30 IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Galata Hall/Rumeli Terrace
This significant report, which focuses on global mass surveillance, will be released at this event. Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) has produced reports yearly since 2007. This year’s edition of GISWatch is entitled “Communications Surveillance in the Digital Age.” The report contains detailed input and analysis from civil society representatives in more than 55 countries. Access, as one of the “watchers,” will be there.

Developing Countries Participation in Global IG (No. 114) [Access speaking]
Day 3 [Thursday, September 4] 4:30 – 6:00 IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 05 (Rumeli -1 Floor/Room 3)
The session will seek to analyse the current situation in global internet governance discussions and seek recommendations in ensuring that developing countries effectively participate in global internet governance debates.

Youth Coalition on Internet Governance Meeting [Access co-moderating]
Day 4 [Friday, September 5] 09:00 – 10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 05 
The Youth Coalition on Internet Governance is a Dynamic Coalition of the IGF and is an open group of organizations and individuals representing all stakeholders that work together for a better youth participation and involvement on Internet Governance discussions and debates. This 2014 meeting is aimed to rejuvenate the YCIG, bringing new leadership and set up a strategical plan for the next 3 years. The meeting will involve new members working on setting new goals for the coalition and ensuring the transition. It will follow a roundtable format and Access will be co-moderating.

Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values [Access presenting]
Day 4 [Friday. September 5] 11:00 – 12:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 10
The fifth IGF meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values, which originated in the IGF Egypt 2009, will focus on the role of stakeholder contribution to preserve core Internet Values. Access will be there to take part in this multistakeholder discussion.

Round table for organizers of workshops on enhancing digital trust and the internet and human rights [Access participating]
Day 4 [Friday, September 5] 09:00 – 10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 08 (Rumeli -1 Floor/Room 4)
This IGF roundtable is an opportunity for participants to consider the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on privacy in the Digital Rights. The session will provide recommendation and offer suggested inputs to the UN HRC session that will follow the IGF, including the Council’s multi-stakeholder panel on September 12th. It is also a great opportunity also for the HRC to receive timely inputs from a multistakeholder process that will assist its work.

Obama ignores user rights with African investment plan

Peter Micek contributed to this post. 

The White House hosted a summit this week with nearly 50 African heads of state to strengthen trade and investment ties. The Summit highlighted a multibillion dollar new investment program, and put President Obama on stage to answer questions from young entrepreneurs.

From its inception, however, the Summit has failed to confront some of the most pressing issues facing the region, like government corruption, in an inclusive way: civil society only received an invitation following public advocacy by civil society groups including the We Are Africa campaign launched by Front Line Defenders.

Even then, civil society groups and human rights defenders were only invited on Aug. 4, rather than to the exclusive meetings with government officials and private sector executives on the following two days.

The White House gave the impression that human rights defenders were intentionally cut out: Santiago Canton, Director of the RFK Partners for Human Rights, said, “human rights will not be on the agenda at the summit as organizers feared such African leaders might not otherwise attend.”

But the U.S. cannot so easily ignore its responsibilities under international law and norms, or turn a blind eye to the activities of its corporations abroad. The country is home to countless multi-national corporations, whose human rights impacts run from environmental degradation to abusive surveillance. The U.S. profits from and promotes business activities, launching a $14 billion initiative to invest in African tech and other sectors. The recent Summit announced initial steps toward accountability, such as a new Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance and corruption. Yet, the U.S. government does not have a clear, public strategy to ensure companies respect human rights.

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) — which Access is a member of — unveiled a campaign demanding that President Obama account for his Administration’s business and human rights plan. ICAR notes that the U.S. has formally committed to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), “to address these harms and hold corporations to account for their human rights impacts.” However, commitments mean little without strong, public goals and determined timetables and action plans, especially in a region like sub-Saharan Africa which features severals governments that have led a worrisome crackdown on user rights. There, governments including Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Central African Republic have used the networks and infrastructure of telcos like Orange and vendors like Huawei to spy on and disrupt communications of at risk groups, even leading to arbitrary arrest and torture. In Sudan, authorities led a deadly crackdown on street protestors last fall just after shutting down all internet connections via the country’s four ISPs. Simply put, the U.S. must account for the long history of contribution to human rights abuses by business.

NAPs in action

National Action Plans are ways that a government communicates how it will address a particular policy area, in this case, business impacts on human rights both at home and abroad. Access recently joined civil society groups in the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) in a joint letter calling on all governments to issue their own National Action Plans on business and human rights.

The UK issued a widely seen NAP last summer. That report included a concession to “develop guidance to address the risks posed by exports of information and communications technology that are not subject to export control but which might have impacts on human rights including freedom of expression online.” This is a veiled reference to the spying technology created by UK companies like Gamma International and sold to dictators and abusive governments worldwide.

Spy tech originates from the U.S. as well. Companies like Blue Coat create the means for countries like Syria, Iran, and Sudan to censor websites and monitor activists online. The obligation on governments to protect users extends beyond their borders, and if the U.S. were to issue a NAP, it should include a similar provision. A U.S. NAP could help end the sale of spy tech to anyone who would abuse these products and services by ensuring that vendors like Blue Coat “know your customer” and undertake human rights impacts assessments on their offerings, customers, and resellers.

It’s important to stress that surveillance tech is just one aspect of what a complete U.S. business and human rights NAP would cover. Within the realm of the ICT sector, the U.S. must further consider how to better enable tech companies to transparently report on all requests to surveil users and disrupt communications; to minimize the amount of data they collect and retain; and to push back against abusive requests and pressure by government authorities at home and abroad to join illicit agreements against user rights. This is to say nothing of the other human rights impacts that ICT companies can have from manufacturing, to land use, to labor rights, and more.

Wide reach and African focus

Access engages with companies and civil society partners to reduce the opportunities for governments to abuse telecom networks and mitigate the harms to users in Africa and elsewhere. Indeed, many civil society groups joined the campaign to gain access to the US-Africa summit, including the Sudanese Social Development Organization (SUDO), Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, HAKI Africa, CLEEN Foundation, Open Society Foundations and The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, among others. Any U.S. business development project in the region must be preceded by a thorough human rights impact assessment and clear safeguards, including robust reporting requirements, consultation with civil society, and greater access to remedy for victims of abuse.

ICAR created a model NAP and assessment toolkit enabling governments to undertake this work, and indeed held an event on responsible African investment. Officials in the U.S. government have no excuse to delay or keep quiet their strategies to confront human rights abuses online. Access calls on our entire community to petition President Obama, asking “What’s your plan on business and human rights?”

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.

Surveillance in a legal vacuum: Kenya considers massive new spying system

Without warning, Kenyans learned last month that Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecoms operator, had contracted with the government to provide a new communications and street-level surveillance system. The new system integrates 2,000 video surveillance cameras, video conferencing, digital radios, and a mapping system into a central command center.

Worryingly, this contract likely entails many forms of street-level surveillance including license plate readers, facial recognition technology, and real-time tracking across major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa.

The arrangement between Safaricom and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has come under scrutiny by the Kenyan Legislature, but only for its bidding process, not human rights concerns. Evidently, Safaricom was the only bidder for the contract, whereas some lawmakers would have preferred an open bidding process. The deal requires Safaricom to spend about 12 billion Kenyan Shillings (approximately 137 million USD) for the new system, which is meant to assist the Kenyan government in combating crime, and mimics a system in place in London.

Kenyan providers have violated user privacy in the past, and users have few legal options to seek remedy. The right to privacy of communications is guaranteed in the Kenyan Constitution, but Kenya lacks comprehensive data protection laws, so the government and Safaricom will be operating this powerful new surveillance network effectively without checks or balances.

Safaricom is 40% owned by Vodafone, the UK-based giant that issued a transparency report last week detailing surveillance laws in 29 countries, including Kenya. Per the report, various Kenyan laws compel the operator to provide information to the government and other foreign governments, but these laws do not outline how the data can or should be protected from abuse, such as transfer or sale to third parties without customer consent.

Little privacy for Kenyan users

It is not difficult to find examples of the kind of privacy abuse that can occur in this environment. A few years ago, a number of Kenyans were unknowingly registered with various Kenyan political parties without their consent using data obtained from Safaricom databases.

In another example, in 2013, a research report published by the Harvard School of Public Health in collaboration with Oxford University, detailed how researchers gathered the mobile phone location data of 15 million people in Kenya, seemingly without their consent. The data was used to build a picture of how travel within Kenya might contribute to malaria transmission.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that the researchers obtained explicit, affirmative, informed consent from half of the country’s mobile users to have their every move tracked. If true, obtaining location data without the target’s consent would likely constitute a violation of Article 31 of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, which states: Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have …  (d) the privacy of their communications infringed.”

The Harvard report does not cite which telcos were involved in this study. However, given Safaricom’s 60% share of the approximately 30 million registered mobile phone users in Kenya, some of the 15 million Kenyans were likely Safaricom subscribers.

While the Kenyan internet is ranked as “free” by Freedom House, there has been evidence of Blue Coat Devices, capable of filtering, censorship, and surveillance, installed on netblocks associated with Hughes Network Systems, a satellite-based internet provider in the country. The new contract with Safaricom, threatens a further erosion of Kenyans’ privacy rights.

Way forward for the government

With this massive new surveillance contract, the Kenyan Government must take a number of steps immediately to ensure data protection of Kenyan mobile phone subscribers and respect of their human rights.

First, the Executive should adopt the Legislature’s recent recommendation to postpone installation. This project should only resume after a thorough human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is conducted by an independent human rights expert such as the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Second, the government should open a public consultation period and field comments from civil society and at-risk groups such as gender activists and internet users groups.

For its part, the Parliament must pass a strong data protection law. The 2010 Constitution of Kenya requires that the Parliament pass a data protection bill, but the draft law has yet to be voted upon, despite being ready for adoption. The bill should be passed quickly to ensure respect for human rights online.

Indeed, a strong data protection law couldn’t come at a more important time. In addition to proposing this new surveillance project with Safaricom, In July, the government will embark on a major data consolidation/collection project to assist in surveilling the Kenyan network in the name of stopping crime. However, without specific data protection laws the centralized database is open to abuse, data leakage, and unauthorized transfer and raises further questions about how the data will be collected, who will have access to the database(s), and how the data will be encrypted and protected.

Safaricom, too, must act quickly to protect the privacy rights of Kenyan citizens

Safaricom has recently stated that it will use an independent 4G network, apart from the commercial network, to link police communications and surveillance. The company must stick to this promise of using an independent network, so as to not disrupt or interfere with private communications.

Additionally, Safaricom must take action to ensure its network is not abused for unlawful purposes. For instance, Safaricom and other telcos and ISPs in Kenya should conduct a thorough human rights impact assessment (HRIA) through independent human rights experts. Based on these assessments, providers should reform their policies impacting user privacy and freedom of expression, and implement new measures to prevent rights abuses. These measures include: issuing regular transparency reports detailing government requests for user data; disclosing actions they take to respond to government requests; publishing relevant corporate policies; and meeting with civil society to review policies and implementation. Finally, to the extent possible under law, providers should reject government requests for direct access to their networks or for network shutdowns.

More policy guidance is available: The Access Telco Action Plan outlines ten steps every rights-respecting telco should take, and the Institute for Human Rights and Business issued a comprehensive Case Study on Safaricom’s efforts to combat hate speech in recent elections. IHRB’s Case Study also counsels Kenyan providers on how to adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.


If there is a ‘silver lining’ to this new surveillance contract, it is that recently some of the Kenyan Members of Parliament have begun talking about privacy rights, many for the first time. This will hopefully facilitate greater public debate and make users more aware of their privacy rights online. Access looks forward to contributing to this public discussion. For now, we strongly urge the government and Safaricom to delay the planned project in order to ensure that there is more time to study its impact on the human rights of all Kenyans.

Africa moves towards a common cyber security legal framework

For several years, African states have been working towards common cyber security norms and regulations through the African Union (AU). Over June 20-27, the AU Heads of State will be meeting where they’re expected to adopt a new Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection. While Access and other partners criticized an earlier draft of the Convention, the rewritten draft has yet to be released to the public, even as it races closer to adoption.


Since 2009, the African Union (AU), has engaged in efforts to harmonize various information and communications technology (ICT) regimes particularly around cyber security laws. Discussions about establishment of a common framework have been ongoing since a 2009 directive, the Oliver Tambo Declaration. In 2013, a draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace (AUCC) was made pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union and was published on the African Union website for discussion from the African internet community. Major concerns were then voiced around this draft, and in May 2014 it was revised to a final version of the Convention, which is now set to be approved by African Heads of State at the end of June.

Delay in Passage

The AUCC was scheduled to pass during an AU meeting in January 2014, but was delayed as a result of protests from the private sector, civil society organizations, and privacy advocates, who had very little involvement in the process. Several leading voices in African internet policy spoke out against the draft Convention, including: KICTANet and ISOC-KE in Kenya, and on the I-Network list moderated by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) as well as by ISOC -Uganda. Access also raised concerns and transmitted comments about the previous draft.

According to a presentation from the African Union, telecom/ICT experts were involved in the drafting process and discussions. However, it is unclear who these experts were, what sectors they came from, or how they were chosen.

The AUCC was supported by some government stakeholders and regional multilateral entities, but many in the internet community opposed it, as the treaty contained a number of provisions that could violate user privacy, chill online expression, and endanger other rights.

On May 12 and 13, 2014, a meeting of experts from the AU members’ justice ministries undertook a thorough review of the AUCC; on May 15th, it was adopted and scheduled for presentation at the 23rd African Union Summit, 20 – 27 June 2014 to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The AUCC was adopted as the “African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.”

The final outcome of the AUCC has not yet been released and Access cannot confirm whether the concerns raised with the previous draft were addressed. Without transparency, it is very difficult for civil society and other stakeholders to play a meaningful role in the drafting and political process around this potentially far-reaching convention. Given that the previous draft raised a number of concerns from civil society, negotiating this kind of convention in the dark, raises a number of human rights and legitimacy concerns. In the absence of having the final text, we thought it might be helpful here to highlight the concerns that were raised with the previous version, the AUCC.

Contentious Provisions that caused delay of transmission to heads of State and Government

In short, the draft convention includes provisions on electronic commerce, personal data protection, cybercrime — with a special focus on racism, xenophobia, and child pornography — and national cybersecurity. It also encourages member states to promote cybersecurity education for information technology professionals and to add to their legal codes criminal offences for hacking computer systems. Below, we will expand on the problematic issues we identified in the draft text.

Infringing on the right to privacy

Articles II (8); II (9); II 28(2); and II 36(9) of the draft AUCC, allow African states to process personal and sensitive data without the owner’s consent for the purpose of state security and the public interest. Furthermore, the government doesn’t have to go before a judge to get approval to violate user privacy in this way, leaving the door open for abuse.

Article I (4) of the convention compels a person or corporation engaging in electronic financial transactions (e.g M-PESA) to provide full identity information as prescribed in the clause such as his/her name, identification number, and contact information among other information. This provision puts personal information at risk, given the fact that very few African countries have comprehensive data protection laws. One does not need to look far to see the kind of abuse that can occur in this environment. Recently, a number of Kenyans were unknowingly registered with various Kenyan political parties without their consent; Safaricom, a major African telecom suggested that M-PESA agents might have sold M-PESA registration and transaction records to the political parties.

Lack of limitations on judicial power

Article III (55) provides for , “…the investigating judge [to] use appropriate technical means to gather or register in real time the data in respect of the content of specific communications in its territory, transmitted by means of a computer system…” The provision empowers judges to assume the role of the prosecutor in both common law and civil law African countries and does not provide checks and balances to ensure a separate investigation and adjudication process.

Looking forward

Already, we can see that advocacy initiatives by individuals, civil society, and academia representatives have had an impact on this process. During Africa ICT Week in December 2013, officials from the African Union Commission met with individuals, civil society, and academia representatives who were opposed to the initial draft. At the meeting, the AU Commission agreed to examine input received by concerned stakeholders and provide explanation and justification regarding areas of disagreement.

We note that this new document is named, the “African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection” as opposed to the previous draft, the “African Union Convention on the Establishment of a Credible Legal Framework for Cyber Security in Africa. Though the final outcome of the convention has yet to be released, we can only hope that the change of name is an indication of a shift in focus to Personal Data Protection and that the human rights concerns highlighted above are addressed. However, given the opacity of the process, it’s hard to know.

Stay tuned! We’ll have more analysis once the final text is published.

For additional analysis of the  draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace please see:

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.

Spotlight on African Contributions to Internet Governance Discussions: Part Three: ITU-CWG internet

Olivia Martin contributed to this post. 

As shown in the 2013 African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) Report, African participation in major Internet governance discussions is extremely lacking. In 2013, only 29 out of 54 African countries sent representatives to the AfIGF. Of these 29 countries physically present, there were 195 participants, including government officials, representatives from the private sector, civil society, and regional and international organizations.

What does this underrepresentation mean? Do African stakeholders fail to take these discussions seriously or are they are ill-equipped to engage in the various internet governance discussions?

This is the third in a series of blog posts that analyze common positions and divergence in views in contributions from African stakeholders to the major international internet governance discussions. Specifically in this post, the focus will be on African participation in Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).


CWG-Internet has the mandate to identify, study, and develop matters related to specific international internet-related public policy issues [1]. An ongoing issue CWG-Internet has sought to address is the question of the role of governments in internet governance. This issue is at the core of a questionnaire sent to all ITU member states on behalf of CWG-Internet on November 22, 2013.

The questionnaire was intended to launch a consultation among governments on their role in the internet-related public policy issues covered in Resolution 1305, the results of which were discussed at its March session. Among the 193 ITU member states that received the questionnaire, 54 were African governments. Responses included specific examples of actions to address internet policy issues as well as opinions on the general nature of the role of governments in internet governance and of the 37 Member States that responded, six were from Africa: Botswana, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda, Sudan and Zambia.


Of the twelve topics covered in the consultation, we found that most of the submissions focused on the following topics: international internet connectivity; international public policy issues pertaining to the internet and the management of internet resources; the security, safety, continuity, sustainability, and robustness of the internet; combating cybercrime; and protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation.

The role of governments in the global governance of the internet

Perhaps more revealing than the 12 issue areas that the questionnaire specifically addressed were responses addressing the global governance of the internet. For example, Sudan’s response challenges the multistakeholder, bottom up model that has been the hallmark of internet governance. Sudan asserted that governments have not been able to actualize their role in internet governance under the current framework because the mechanism for “enhanced cooperation” has never been established.

While other African submissions do not address this issue in this particular consultation, it is important to note that Sudan’s position contradicts that of the 21 African governments as articulated in the 2005 African Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Ministers Common Position on Internet Governance. These 21 African governments, together with almost 30 institutions from the region, committed to:

“1. The establishment of a global consultation framework to review in depth the general policies on Internet Governance. Such a framework should authorise equal participation for all stakeholders (Government, the private sector, civil society, and international organisations). 2. The expansion and reinforcement of the existing institutions for Internet Governance to enable all stakeholders to participate and ensure Internet Governance is efficient, accountable, and democratic, and that Internet services and resources are distributed in an equitable manner among all actors and all continents.”

In comparing responses from African governments on the issue of multistakeholderism to those coming from other regions in the world, one can note that African submissions are generally supportive of a multistakeholder approach to internet governance, and acknowledge the UN Internet Governance Forum. In contrast, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, did not recognize the IGF or the inclusion of other stakeholders. Instead, they recommended that governments “Name or create an entity within the UN system to enable governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet, but not in the day-to-day technical and operational matters that do not impact on international public policy issues”.

In this consultation, India took a more middle ground approach, asserting that “Governments should be represented in decision-making forums but they would undertake consultations at their respective national levels with all stakeholders including private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community while formulating their positions.”

Levels of participation

Samantha Dickinson, who attended the recent CWG-Internet meeting as a member of the Australian delegation but blogs in her personal capacity asks:

“Is CWG-Internet terminally ill or temporarily comatose?…There were very few representatives from the Member States that would very much benefit from experience sharing with other States on how to help support Internet development within their borders. In particular, there were only one or two Member States from the African region, and apart from India, none of the developing States from the Asia Pacific region. Latin American and the Caribbean was also poorly represented (Paraguay was present)…..Is the lack of participation by others a sign of the lack of relevance of the CWG-Internet to their real world needs? Or is the lack of participation a sign of resource constraints preventing developing countries from attending the meeting?”

It is also interesting to note that while the number of African governments contributing to this consultation was relatively low, only one African government made a contribution to NetMundial, which may indicate that African governments view the ITU, an intergovernmental body, as a more valuable process to engage in.

It is also notable that African governments did not play an active role, either in the last ITU-CWG meeting or NetMundial, despite the discussions on several key issues for Africa at both fora. Perhaps this is a result of the mushrooming of internet policy related meetings in recent years.

Finally, if not for the documents leaked at WCITLeaks and governments that conducted open consultations, the public would not know the positions of different governments in this consultation.

Parts one and two of this series on analysis of common positions and differences in contributions from African stakeholders to the major international internet governance discussions is available here and here.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.

What did Africa Get out of NetMundial Internet Governance Discussions?


NetMundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance concluded recently in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The meeting’s goal was to develop internet governance principles and proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. In total, 1,480 participants from all stakeholder groups were physically present at NetMundial while, there were more than 30 hubs around the world (from 97 countries) with at least 200 daily views thus facilitating remote participation.


Our previous analysis of African stakeholders’ contributions to the initial NetMundial open submission process found that stakeholders from Africa emphasized human rights and role of governments in matters of internet governance.


NetMundial concluded with the approval by acclamation of a final statement on internet governance principles. The final text built on the contributions made at the initial NetMundial open submission process and inputs from the Public Consultation at the NETmundial’s website. However, in the process of negotiations and attempts to reach consensus, compromises were made along the way. With this blog post we compare the contributions from the African region with the final NetMundial statement.

Human Rights

As noted above, submissions coming from Africa had a strong emphasis on human rights issues. Notably:

Generally, the final NetMundial statement is in line with the priorities expressed in the African submissions in acknowledging the universality of human rights and taking into consideration internet governance priorities from developing countries’ perspectives. For example, the NetMundial outcome document recognizes that the internet is a global resource, which should be managed in the public interest.

The final text was also consistent with African inputs in reinforcing the point that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, elaborating certain rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and privacy among others.

Other similarities were seen in regards to positions on communications surveillance and privacy. While the final NetMundial text did not live up to some high expectations from civil society, it did ultimately address the issue, noting:

“Procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, should be reviewed, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all obligations under international human rights law.”

With regards to rights of accessibility for people with disabilities, the final NetMundial text went beyond what most of the African submissions called for, stating that persons with disabilities should enjoy full access to online resources and citing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As noted above, some African submissions emphasized the need for internet governance to address the needs of people in developing countries. NetMundial addressed this issue in stating,:

“all people have a right to development and the Internet has a vital role to play in helping to achieve the full realization of internationally agreed sustainable development goals. It is a vital tool for giving people living in poverty the means to participate in development processes.”

Culture and linguistic diversity

African submissions highlighted Africa is home to 54 countries, with 1 billion people of varying ethnic descent, more than 2,000 languages and several writing systems or scripts. As such, cultural and linguistic diversity are important principles for Africa and efforts should continue towards local development of online content and making content available in forms that are locally relevant. The final NetMundial text takes this issue into account, stating that “Internet governance must respect, protect and promote cultural and linguistic diversity in all its forms.”

Unified and unfragmented online space

African submissions noted that the open architecture of the internet and its status as a public good should be preserved to ensure that innovation and creativity in its use and evolution continues without undue interferences. Additionally, African submitters highlighted that knowledge-sharing is an important aspect of preserving openness as it supports innovation and interoperability. The NetMundial text closely reflects this concept, asserting that the:

“Internet should continue to be a globally coherent, interconnected, stable, unfragmented, scalable and accessible network-of-networks, based on a common set of unique identifiers and that allows data packets/information to flow freely end-to-end regardless of the lawful content.”

On a related point, NetMundial’s treatment of access to knowledge and intellectual property rights reflects competing interests coming from African submissions, as well as elsewhere. For example, while Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA) and the Tunisian government highlighted the importance of access to information and knowledge-sharing, the coalition of Entertainment and Cultural Organizations (which in part included: ANCOP, Nigeria: Association of Nollywood Core Producers; SAFACT, South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (Southern African film, home entertainment and interactive games

industries), for example, emphasized the need to protect intellectual property rights. Regrettably the language on freedom of information was altered to include the phrase “consistent with the rights of authors and creators as established in law” as a result of intensive lobbying from elements within the private sector. Even within Africa there were different views on this issue.

Access and low barriers

On Access and low barriers, it is notable that this was a key issue for African stakeholders, with at least one submission from each of the stakeholders focused on this. The final NetMundial text asserted that “Internet governance should promote universal, equal opportunity, affordable and high quality Internet access.” This goes beyond what the African submissions called for, as they did not use the term “high quality internet,” but is a welcome inclusion.


The final NetMundial text reflected the importance raised in African submissions of involving all stakeholders in the further evolution of the Internet Governance ecosystem. For example African Stakeholders’ Contribution to NetMundial had proposed that there was need for coordination between Regional and National IGF meetings while NetMundial final text expresses, “National multistakeholder mechanisms should serve as a link between local discussions and regional and global instances. Therefore a fluent coordination and dialogue across those different dimensions is essential.”

Capacity building

African contributions and more specifically the Tunisian government submission had emphasized the importance of capacity building and one can note that this has also been elaborated by the final text of NetMundial as, “Enabling capacity building and empowerment through such measures such as remote participation and adequate funding, and access to meaningful and timely information are essential for promoting inclusive and effective Internet governance.”

Institutional improvement

With respect to institutional improvements, African submissions had suggested that the global IGF and Regional IGFs produce tangible outcomes in the form of non-binding opinions, recommendations, or policy principles and better coordination among various players in the internet governance ecosystem

The NetMundial final text is in line with these suggestions. The relevant sections reads,

“There should be adequate communication and coordination among existing forums, task forces and organizations of the Internet governance ecosystem. Periodic reports, formal liaisons and timely feedbacks are examples of mechanisms that could be implemented to that end. It would be recommendable to analyze the option of creating Internet governance coordination tools to perform on-going monitoring, analysis, and information-sharing functions.”


“There is a need for a strengthened Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Important recommendations to that end were made by the UN CSTD working group on IGF improvements. It is suggested that these recommendations will be implemented by the end of 2015.”

We can also note that both the African submissions and the final text recommend an extension of the current IGF mandate to a few more years.

Globalization of ICANN and IANA

Most African submissions addressing the globalization of ICANN and the IANA transition focused on this matter only focused on the importance of multistakeholder involvement in the process and did not suggest how the globalization ought to be carried out.

The NetMundial final text calls for multistakeholder involvement and gives a specific timeline 0f 2015 which was not given by the African submissions. The NetMundial Text states: “This transition should be conducted thoughtfully with a focus on maintaining the security and stability of the Internet, empowering the principle of equal participation among all stakeholder groups and striving towards a completed transition by September 2015.”


In conclusion, one can say that generally speaking the outcome of NetMundial reflected the priorities expressed in the submissions coming from Africa.

It is important to note, however, that the language of the NetMundial statement was watered down when compared against the text included in the African submissions in some respects. This left some of the paragraphs of the final text too vague and open to varied interpretations.

Perhaps the best example of this is NetMundial’s treatment of net neutrality: Some aspects of net neutrality were contained in the outcome document, such as the principle that “data packets/information to flow freely end to- end regardless of the lawful content,” but the term itself was not included, except in the section “Points to be discussed beyond NetMundial.” Net neutrality was a clear priority in some African Submissions: Contribution of the government of Tunisia, African ICT/IG Stakeholders, CIPIT Kenya and in Sudan’s Beta Advanced Projects.

One reason African priorities are not always addressed at international internet governance processes is that there are often low levels of participation from the region. In the case of NetMundial, the meeting had approximately at least 200 daily views from remote participants across each of the 5 hubs located in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia and there were 77 participants physically present in Brazil.

While participation from Africa may have been lower than that of other regions, African governments made up one-quarter of the group of governments co-hosting NetMundial- Ghana, South Africa, Tunisia among the 12 countries that co-hosted the meeting. There were also a number of prominent African persons in leadership positions in the meeting: Nnenna Nwakanma spoke as a civil society speaker in the opening ceremony, Jimson Olufuye, Tarek Kamel, Adiel Akplogan, Anriette Esterhuysen and Andile Ngcaba among others participated as members of leadership committees and chairs of sessions.

Additionally, a number of high-ranking government officials spoke at NetMundial, including Edward Kofi Omane Boamah (Minister of Communications, Ghana), Thierry Moungalla (Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Republic of Congo), and Jean Philibert Nsengimana (Ministry of Youth & ICT, Rwanda).

In order to bring the NetMundial outcome forward in Africa, it is up to those who engaged in the process and see value in its outcome to continue to press for progress around their priorities. There is no shortage of fora to do so. Africans who participated physically and remotely at NetMundial are already engaging through various mailing lists such as: AfNOG (African Network Operators Group), AFRINIC (African Network Information Center), AfREN (The African research and education networking), AfTlD (African Top Level Domains Organization), AfricaCERT, ISOC African Chapters, the African IGFs, the AfPIF (African Peering and Interconnection Forum) and AfriSIG (Africa School of Internet Governance). Most of these organizations have slotted sessions regarding issues pointed out in NetMundial final document during their physical meetings in 2014.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.

African Internet Policy and Media Law Roundup

Welcome to the first African Internet Policy and Media Law Roundup compiled by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito.  This edition of the roundup explores notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies from January through April 2014.


Zambia: On January 1, 2014, Miles Sampa, Zambia’s Junior Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, declared war on the Zambian Watchdog, an independent media website which published photos that point to Sampa’s alleged extramarital affair. The Minister then decided to offer $2000 USD to anyone who could reveal the identity of the people behind the website.

Somalia: The extremist Somali militia Al-Shabab issued an ultimatum to Somalia’s internet service providers on January 8, 2014. On January 11, 2014, the Somali Minister of Interior and National Security downplayed the threats and urged the upholding of the right to free expression enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Somalia: On January 12, 2014, telcos operating in Al-Shabab controlled areas caved in to pressure from Al-Shabab, an extremist militia group, and shut down internet access. It is speculated that Al-Shabab was pressuring the telcos to shut down the internet in order to prevent the government from  tracking down to extremist group.

Sudan: On January 14, 2014, Tech President, released a report which showed that US Sanctions against Sudan are preventing Sudanese citizens, including civil society organizations, from protecting themselves against international and national cyber threats.

Zambia: On January 17, 2014, operators of the independent news site the Zambian Watchdog came under policy scrutiny after an online journalist on the site published a draft of the new Zambian constitution that politicians had drafted but did not want released to the general public.

Morocco: On January 19, 2014, it was made public that the Moroccan government was contemplating the enactment of the Code Numérique, a new law that would allow Moroccan authorities to block websites deemed a threat “public order, national security, necessities of public service, or public policy.”  The new law would also punish online statements considered to be in violation of those rules. Online freedoms activists responded by developing a crowdsourced document that provided suggestions on some of the repressive sections of the law.

Kenya: On January 21, 2014, Kenyan bloggers warned of the negative impacts and potential chilling effect of new media laws in Kenya. According to bloggers, the new laws left them open to prosecution due to some of its vague provisions. More information on these laws can be found here.

Egypt: On January 31, 2014, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior submitted a new law which criminalises the use of online platforms in the name of curbing terrorism. Such platforms that instigate terrorism could potentially be censored.


Uganda: On February 6, 2014, Ugandan lawmakers enacted the Anti Pornography Act 2014.Under, Section 17 (1) of the act, internet service providers (ISPs) whose systems are used to upload or download pornography can be imprisoned for five years and fined up to $4,000 USD. The law further requires all ISPs to install software that implements Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), a form of filtering software that can identify who has been accessing what on the internet.

Ethiopia: On February 12, 2014, University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab revealed that that Ethiopian government was using Hacking Team’s RCS spyware to surveil Ethiopian journalists abroad working at Ethiopian Satellite Television Service, a US-based news outlet that is frequently critical of the Ethiopian government.

Sudan: On February 17, 2014, Sudan Change Now, on its Facebook page, called for the civil society community in Sudan to hold a peaceful sit-in on February 18, 2014, in front of the government-run Human Rights Commission (HRC), to demand the immediate release of Tajeldin Arja. Tajeldin Arja is a Sudanese blogger and activist who has been in detention since his arrest on December 24, 2013 at a joint press conference of the Sudanese and Chadian presidents in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Arja criticized the Sudanese and Chadian presidents for their alleged complicity in Darfur crimes.

Egypt: On February 18, 2014, an Egyptian youth group launch an “internet revolution” to protest what they consider a slow and overpriced internet service.


Zambia: On March 12, 2014, the son of Michael Sata, Zambia’s President, allegedly beat up and threatened a journalist affiliated with the controversial investigative news website the Zambia Watchdog.

South Africa: On March 16, 2014, the South African communications regulator ICASA raised the idea of introducing “net neutrality” regulations that would stop operators from discriminating against traffic carried across their networks.

Gambia: On March 21, 2014, Gambia was without internet access for 48 hours. Economist Sidi Sanneh, who served as the country’s foreign minister in the mid-2000s, said the blackout resulted from government efforts to block chat and call apps including Viber and other VoIP internet-based messaging and phone services. Gambia’s Ministry of Information Technology denied blocking access to Viber, blaming the problem instead on poor network connectivity.

Ethiopia: On March 25, 2014, Human Rights Watch released “They Know Everything We Do: Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia,” a 137-page report detailing government acquisition of surveillance tools from foreign companies, cooperation with mobile service providers, and sufficient testimony from journalists, activists, and others who have been targeted by surveillance practices.


Mozambique: On April 3, 2014, that Mozambican lawmakers began considering a new law that would criminalize text messages, emails, and other online communications deemed “insulting” or “threatening to the security of the state.”

On April 3rd, Mozambique also joined The Alliance for Affordable Internet (AA4I), a global coalition working to make broadband affordable. Mozambique is the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) country and the third developing country (including Nigeria and Ghana) to join A4AI. A4AI’s coalition is made up of more than 50 private sector, public sector, and civil society organizations, working to reach the UN Broadband Commission Broadband target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income.

Zambia: On April 6, 2014, Zambian Information Permanent Secretary Bert Musahala disclosed that the media policy the government is currently drafting will address internet abuse and cybercrime. To the disappointment of some activists, the law is also intended to deal with prevention of gossip within online discussion platforms.

Nigeria: On April 10, 2014, an engineer who tweets as @ciaxon allegedly disappeared after tweeting about an attempt by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group to escape a state detention facility.

Ethiopia: On April 25, 2014, Ethiopian government officials are reported to have arrested at least six bloggers and one journalist. The bloggers and journalists are part of a movement known as Zone9 which, though inactive for the past seven months, has been operating since 2012. Members of the movement had been writing critical articles about the regime and managed to conduct online campaigns,which raised public awareness about the repression in the country. The bloggers and journalist recently resumed their online activism on April 23, 2014.


Featured Photo Credit:AttributionSome rights reserved by Abri_Beluga

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on CGCS Media Wire.

Spotlight on African Contributions to Internet Governance Discussions Part 1: NetMundial

The internet affects every individual in this world whether directly or indirectly. For example, a medical professional somewhere in Goma, Congo might access the internet to read and post reviews to current medication available and this might have an impact on the kind of medication that he/she recommends to the patient, whether the patient has access to affordable internet or not. Since the internet affects everyone, Africans citizens who are aware of internet governance discussions, expect African stakeholders to engage in these discussions.

Specifically, we are looking at African stakeholder’s actions in taking part in positive reform agenda that: preserves the interoperable/global nature of the internet; is secure and facilitates the exercise of human rights, for all users without discrimination or regard for where they happen to connect; is inclusive in decision-making so that policies reflect the public interest.

One can note that African participation has been low as one can see from the 2013 African IGF Report where participants were Government officials, representatives from private sector, civil society, regional and international organisations totalling 195 and coming from 29 countries were physically present at the meeting, (Africa has 54 countries). The 2012 African IGF Report cites similar stakeholders but from 31 countries physically present at the meeting. Does this mean that African stakeholders never take these discussions seriously or that they are ill-equipped to handle internet governance discussions even when they are held in Africa? In the past it has been stated “The lack of an effective outreach to Africa is one of direct causes of the very low participation of Africa.

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we will analyse common positions and differences in contributions from African stakeholders to the major international internet governance discussions such as: the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet), the ITU-facilitated multistakeholder preparatory platform for the review of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS+10), and the UN Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) under the auspices of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) among other Internet Governance discussions that are meant to shape the internet’s future.

NetMundial (Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance) 


NetMundial is the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance that is scheduled for April 23rd and 24th 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will focus on crafting internet governance principles and proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. It is organized “in a partnership between the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee ( and /1Net, a forum that gathers international entities of the various stakeholders involved with Internet governance. Twelve countries are supporting the NetMundial as members of the High Level Multistakeholder Committee: Brazil, Argentina, France, Ghana, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States among other multistakeholder organizations.

NetMundial had an open submission process that allowed for all stakeholders to submit contributions on both internet governance principles and a roadmap for reform. Over 180 submissions were received, with a total of 19 coming from Africa, including from government, civil society, the technical community and the private sector. It is important to note that in Africa there was only 1 government submission (Tunisia) to NetMundial. The breakdown of contributions by sector is 1 Government, 9 Civil Society Organizations, 3 from Private Sector, 1 from the Technical Community, 1 from a Multi-Stakeholder platform and 4 from academia.

The Submission can further be categorised under the following themes:

  • security (5)
  • freedom of expression/human rights (14)
  • globalization of ICANN (4)
  • role of governments (11)
  • net neutrality (4)
  • globalization of IANA functions (1)
  • Affordable Access (4)

See specific information about the data in the following infographic (click to see actual size):

NetMundial - African Contributions

There was only one contribution that expressly mentioned about globalization of IANA functions; while all contributions discussed on the importance of involving all stakeholders in internet governance processes and therefore implied support for a decentralized model of governance. Two possible exceptions include CIPIT (Academia from Kenya) uses “multilateral” which seems to mean multistakeholder and the Nigeria Internet Registration Association, which calls for a new World Internet Governance Organisation (WIGO) a global organization with equal participation of the Government, Private sector, Civil Society, Technical Community in a multi-stakeholder consensus building NET-NATIONS. The proposal is that “ICANN be changed to WIGO” and asserts that “the Internet ecosystem should maintain the multistakeholder approach”. Because the proposal is scarce on details, i.e. how WIGO would relate to other bodies in the internet ecosystem, it is unclear whether it is consistent with a decentralized approach.

With regards to human rights, submissions from civil society tend to place a strong emphasis on human rights and state that it is the government’s role to ensure the protection of users’ rights online, pointing to specific international standards that ought to be adhered to. Several submissions included an emphasis on affordable access and similar language on security, stability and resiliency of the Internet.

Two submissions that stand out for addressing issues not addressed in other African submissions are those from Sudan (The violation of US political sanctions against the Neutrality of the network and Impact of ICANN being a US registered organization and its relations with countries under US trade embargo) addressing U.S. sanctions and their impact on free flow of information in Sudan.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Access Now.


5 ICT Solutions From Miss Geek Rwanda 2014

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Rwanda

Topic: Arts & Culture, Youth, Citizen Media, Women & Gender, Digital Activism

This post also available in:

Español · Cinco soluciones de TIC de Miss Geek Ruanda

Deutsch ·  5 IKT-Lösungen von Miss Geek Rwanda 2014

MsGeekRW is a competition for Rwandan women encouraging them to showcase their knowledge and skills in ICT. The event was held during 2014′s International Women’s Day on March 8, 2014. The event shortlisted the following 5 best ICT solutions:

1.Mobile Cow

2. Wireless Blackbox

3. Item Locator

4. Online Driving System

5. Class Attendance System

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Global Voices Online.