October was a significant month for digital rights; our members engaged in various activities and published reports to commemorate the International Cyber Security Day, on 21st October. Quite a number of AIRA members were also engaged in various discussions at 73rd Ordinary Session
of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. Read about these activities below:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – KENYA
1. Amnesty International – Kenya (AI Kenya) published an article; ‘Jailing of journalists over defamation spells doom for media freedom’. The article points out the cost of jailing journalists over defamation and its implications on media freedom. The article examines the position of the Constitution of Kenya on the topic. Amnesty International keny anotes that whilst journalists should not publish defamatory content, criminalizing defamation is a disproportionate means toprotect reputations. The Kenya High Court has ruled categorically that it is unnecessary to criminalize defamatory statements. Read the article here
2. AI Kenya, Law Society of Kenya, and the Paralegal Society of Kenya held ten legal empowerment clinics to commemorate Huduma Day. Research revealed that 1 in 2 Kenyans still believe there is no equality under the law. The clinics targeted 1,000 clients; people who normally are deprived of such services and encouraged community development and voluntarism, offered legal advice, shared Amnesty materials and interviewed Kenyans on what freedom means to them. The activities involved 50 pro bono lawyers, paralegals and public defenders, 10 legal clinics, 9 counties, and 1,000 were lives touched. This was the first of four AI Kenya at 10 events. Read AI Kenya’s brief about the clinics here.
AI Kenya is conducting a survey on, ‘Children and Young People's Experiences on Social Media’. Social media’s power, uses, and harms. The survey is aimed at better equipping AI Kenya to make the internet and social media platforms a safer, more fun place. The survey targets those 13 to 24 years old and use Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, to hear their thoughts on how social media can better serve them. Participate here.
ARTICLE 19 EASTERN AFRICA
1. On 6th October, Article 19 Eastern Africa participated in the 'Social Media 4 Peace’ project funded by the European Union (EU), which aimed at strengthening the resilience of society to potentially harmful content spread online, while enhancing the promotion of peace through digital technologies in Kenya. A19 Digital Program Officer, Catherine Muya made a presentation and provided recommnedations to address hate speech, including the establishment of a multi-stakeholder coalition on Freedom of Expression. Details here
2. Article 19 Eastern Africa and partners hosted a side event on “the Surveillance of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders in Africa” duirng the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. The panel included Maxwel Kadiri from Open Society Justice Initiative, Hlengiwe Dube from the Centre for Human Rights, Sarah Wesonga from Article 19 Eastern Africa, and Roselyn Hanzi from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. The panelists provided an assessment on the experience of journalists and human rights defenders in the continent with regards to mass and unlawful surveillance. They recommended that targeted surveillance should be authorized by law, that conforms with international human rights law and standards, and that is premised on specific and reasonable suspicion that a serious crime has been or is being carried out, or for any other legitimate aim. Details here
Article 19 Eastern Africa, represented by Catherine Muya, will be on a panel at the Privacy Symposium discussing: Human Rights Concerns related to Public – Private surveillance partnerships and necessary safeguards. Details here.
1. BudgIT launched the annual State of States report, their most significant yearly publication. The report assesses and ranks all 36 Nigerian states’ long-term fiscal sustainability, from the most sustainable to the least sustainable. The report was launched on 13th October in Abuja. You can find out about each state’s fiscal ranking, revenue-generating capacity, expenditure priorities, debt liabilities and growth opportunities here.
2. In the last few months, BudgIT and partners have advocated for healthcare accountability and vaccine equity in Nigeria to promote transparency and social accountability on Covid-19 resources and to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system. These efforts were documented in a recent report, ‘Health Sector Accountability in Nigeria’. The report was shared with stakeholders and citizens. Details here.
3. BudgIT released a podcast, ‘Leveraging Civic Activism for Social Justice and Equity’. The podcast delved into issues affecting the advocacy for social justice and equity in Nigeria. Particularly, the episode examined the contributions of Hope Behind Bars Africa and its advocacy for social justice and equity in Nigeria. Listen here.
After launching the State of States report, BudgIT released Fiscal Performance Ranking sharing some insights into how state govts fared, hosted a Twitter Space discussing the report and will continue disseminating specific aspects of the report on their social media handles: Facebook - BudgIT, Twitter - BudgITng.
1. CcHUB/I-Hub celebrated 12 years since thy opened its doors to the possibilities of social inanovation and technological advancement on the continent. It was 12 years of transforming possibilities into equal opportunities that have supported the development & launch of more than 650 innovative African technology companies solving social challenges in transparency, agtech, education, fintech, healthcare delivery, & sustainability. CcHub looks forward to another decade dedicated to accelerating the application of social capital and technology for economic prosperity. Details here.
2. On 7th Oct, CcHub design Lab celebrated women in the Rwandan tech ecosystem, with the "Inpower: Women in Tech event". The theme of the event was, "The future of women in tech". This event prepared women to realize how technology can support and complement their businesses and careers in the current rapidly evolving digital world. The in-person event enabled women from different tech communities in the Rwanda to share, learn, connect, get inspired, and grow. The main objective of this event was to take the fear factor out of technology and inspire women to embrace technology by empowering them to surf the technology wave and advance their careers. Details here.
3. CcHub/I-hub will host the Africa Arena East Africa Summit, an initiative that aims to aimed at support African Startups to showcase, raise funds, and scale internationally. The summit was in Nairobi, Kenya and featured pitches from over 25 startups operating in Africa, between the Seed stage, Series A, and Growth stage, as well as keynotes and panel discussions from the top minds in business, tech, and investment on the continent. Watch the session here
- CcHub/I-hub hosted health-tech focused startups for an info-session on the Health Tech Hub Africa Challenge where startups in the growth track will receive $50000, $30000 & $20000, respectively in grants from The Novartis Foundation. The Health Tech Hub Africa Challenge seeks out the highest-potential African Health changemakers to join the 2023 challenge. Details here.
- The African Development Bank (AfDB) is working with CcHUB/I-Hub, CcHUB Creative and Syndicate by CcHUB to execute the Fashionomics Africa Online Accelerator Program that will increase Africa’s participation in the global textile and fashion industry value chain. The acceleration program will be focused on growth-stage start-ups in the fashion industry that have launched a business and are focused on building a customer base, maintaining cash flow, and potentially expanding their product lines or markets. Details here.
1. KICTANet published an article on a session on Digital Inclusion and Civic participation of persons with disabilities in Africa. The article notes that digital technologies enable PwDs to communicate, access information on an equal basis with everyone, and therefore participate in civic activities. PwDs can also work virtually from home, and engage with their elected leaders. However, assistive technologies are unaffordable to PwDs, and they still lack basic knowledge on the existence of these technologies. The panel recommended that access to ICTs for PwDs be subsidized by reducing the costs of internet access, assistive technologies. Among other interventions. Read the report here. Read KICTANet’s FIFAfrica highlights here.
2. To usher in October, the Cyber Security month, KICTANet published the "Study paper on human-centered cybersecurity: Kenyan Fintech sector". It maps the cybersecurity landscape in Kenya with a focus on the financial Sector. The key recommendations to the private sector include among others: investing resources towards hiring and retention of skilled personnel, knowledge and capacity building, and an upgrade of infrastructure, tools and software. It is also recommended that civil society include developing cyber hygiene programmes targeted at the public; monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness measures put in place by the government and the financial sector; and enhancing collaboration with other stakeholders. Read it here.
3. KICTANet attended a consultative meeting organized by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) in collaboration with Netflix, on their upcoming Parental Digital Literacy program (PADiL). KICTANet called for the consideration of digital accessibility of the PADiL program: the ease of ICTs for parents with disabilities and parents with children with disabilities. Read about it here.
KICTANet is running a cyber hygiene campaign. Thet have prepared simplified comic strips, videos, and partnerned with Tutua Centre (@TutuaDigital) to educate the public on cyber hygiene. This campaign will continue; visit kictanet.or.ke and follow the Twiiter hashtags: #cyberawareness #CyberHygieneKE
Legal Resources Centre ( LRC)
1. LRC and partners Equal Education Law Centre, Equal Education, The Centre for Child Law, and the International Commission of Jurists, published the “Basic Education Rights Handbook”. The Handbook is a legal literacy tool that aims to empower communities, school governing bodies, principals, teachers and learners to understand education related law and policy, to know when learners’ rights have been violated (inclduing digital rights) and what steps are required to protect learners’ rights. It is a valuable resource in providing information on case developments and legal frameworks in key areas of education law and policy. Download a free copy here.
2. LRC’s latest publication, Barriers to accessing education for girl learners in South Africa, outlines the challenges girl learners face - both in the school environment and in accessing education - in South Africa. The challenges are generally, poverty, teenage pregnancy, gender inequalities in curriculum content and teacher behaviour, sexual assault, child marriage, household care duties, sanitation and access hygiene products, scholar transport. However, the article notes that is difficult to quantify the impact of many of these barriers, because the data does not always show exactly how many girls are affected by them. The report shows that the types of obstacles that girl learners face are multifaceted and that, although some progress has been made, the implementation of existing plans has been insufficient thus far. You can access it here.
LRC is Filing a case to advance access to internet for children as a way of promoting access to education.
1. Paradigm Initiative (PIN) launched their “Business and Human Rights (BHR) series - Doing Tech Business Right”. The project is supported by Global Partners Digital and is a series that T speaks to business and human rights in the digital space. The session e, focused on elaborating the concept of tusiness and human rights as the idea that businesses of all sizes must respect human rights. Watch the highlights here.
2. Pradaigm initaitive’s Executive Director, spoke at the first edition of the Dubai Future Forum,an annual international event hosted by the Dubai Future Foundation convening over 400 of the world’s top futuristsand thought leaders, from diverse sectors, to build a long-lasting community by engaging on tomorrow’s most pressing issues. Read more on the event here.
3. The Paradigm Initaitive Festival 2022 kicked off with the Digital Rights Academy, that included sessions on the State of Internet Freedom in Zimbabwe, and Safeguarding Women's Rights Online.Details here.
4. Paradigm Initiative alongside MISA Zimbabwe conducted the finals of the interregional debate competition as part of the Paradigm Initaitive Festival. The motion for the debate was whether state digital surveillance should take priority over personal privacy. Watch it here.
5. Ahead of this year's Global Encryption Day, Paradigm Initiative hosted a webinar on Encryption on 19th Oct 2022. The webinar brought together speakers who expounded on encryption as the key to data privacy and security, and what governments, organizations and individuals ought to do in order to secure their information. Through experiences on how encryption has been violated in their countries, panelists shared the lived realities of violations.
Paradigm Initiative issued a call for the services of researchers on digital rights and digital inclusion from African countries to be co-authors of the Londa 2022 report, which will be the latest addition to PIN’s annual reports on Digital rights and Inclusion in Africa. Details here.
Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT)
1. CIPIT published an article, “Turning a New Leaf: New Appointments to Kenya’s Copyright Tribunal”. Access it here.
2. CIPIT’s acting director, Dr. Melissa Omino and researcher, Florence Ogonjo were at Day 2 of the Cyber Lab Africa Summit by Carnegie Mellon University Africa in Kigali, Rwanda. They spoke on trust as a central issue in considering privacy and security in the perspective of end users and in line with the public interest embodied in Digital Public Goods. Access Read about here.
3. CIPIT published an article, 'Children’s Rights to Data Protection and Privacy in the Digital Age: Existing Laws and Policies. The article was researched by Florence Ogonjo and Rachel Achieng'. Read it here.
● Privacy Symposium Africa starts on November 2nd. The program for the two panels for day one is out. Register to attend virtuallyy here.
- CIPIT invited applications for a 3-month fellowship at the Data Governance Centre. Application deadline is 31st October 2022 at 5:00 p.m. EAT For more information on how to apply visit here.
- CIPIT has announced the Women in Cybers Mentorship program in collaboration with Standard Chattered. It is a 4-month mentorship program that targets women residing in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) with junior working experience seeking entry into the field of cybersecurity. Details here.
The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
1. CIPESA published an article, ‘Participant Reflection on FIFAfrica22: Effective Engagement in the UPR Process for Digital Rights Promotion.’ The article notes that th freedom of expression is not absolute and that the three-part test is key in determining the circumstances which potentially justify limitations. It highlights that participants reached the conclusion that there are still actions of governments that are a threat to internet freedom such as arrests, detention and assassination of some journalists. It is the responsibility of civil society, activists and human rights defenders to hold governments accountable through the use and increased participation in the UPR process. Access the article here.
2. CIPESA published an opinion piece on, ‘What companies and government bodies aren’t telling you about Artificila Intellignece ( AI) profiling.’ The Article cautions that the despite the promises and the success stories of Artificial Intelligence, we know very little about how AI is used to make decisions about us since its operation is as mostly shrouded in secrecy. As part of CIPESA’s new research series on AI and human rights, they approached 14 leading companies in South Africa’s financial services, retail and e-commerce sectors, to ask for details of how they used AI to profile their customers. They also approached two government bodies, Home Affairs and the Department of Health, with the same query. The responses were maddeningly vague and confused. Much work needs to be done to enact meaningful transparency and accountability in the space of AI and data profiling. Read here.
4. CIPESA commemorated Global Encryption Day and shared their report on encryption. The report analyzes country-specific laws that various governments on the continent have enacted and how they impact privacy and data security through surveillance, restrictions on encryption, data localisation, and biometric databases. According to the report, governments across the continent continue to collect and process personal data, intercept communications and permit surveillance without putting in place the requisite oversight mechanisms and adequate remedies, despite being signatories to regional and international conventions that recognise the right to privacy and provide safeguards for data protection. Read the report here.
As part of its advocacy against the uganda Cimputer Misue Act, CIPESA published an article, ‘Uganda’s Changes on Computer Misuse Law Spark Fears It Will Be Used to Silence Dissidents.’ The article discuses Uganda’s new Computer Misuse Amendment Act, and its impacts on digital rights in Uganda. CIPESA is amongst a some human rights groups and a section of online communities are worried the law might be abused by regimes, especially the current one, to limit free speech and punish persons that criticize the government, and are planning legal challenge in court.
1. Pollicy published an article, “ The Digital divide extends to language, what now?” The article notes that there are more than 5 billion people globally with access to the Internet and/or digital platforms. However, keyboards are not designed for many non-English languages, especially those that do not use Latin scripts. Unicode only supports about 150 languages, a small percentage of the over 7,000 spoken languages worldwide. More than 60% of web pages are in English, despite the fact only around 16% of the world’s population speaks this language. Indigenous languages that do not have majority purchase in a given country or context are disposed of in favor of more common languages. Because of this, Pollicy, in partnership with the Digital Futures Lab and the Internet Society Foundation, is leading a project about the experiences and challenges that non-English speakers face online, primarily focusing on issues of access, usability and safety. Preliminary findings indicate that languages spoken by the respondents in social and cultural context overlap with realities online; showing that physical realities are often reflected online, whether positively or negatively. Read the articlehere, published in Amharic, Swahili and Luganda in addition to English. Findings from the primary research study will be available by the end of 2022.
2. In October, POLLICY trained the first cohort of Women Leaders under the VOTE: Women program. The women leaders from Uganda and Tanzania, were equipped with a wide range of digital skills to enable them navigate challenges they face for example tech-based harassment. Check out their reflections and be ready for the next cohort in this video here.
POLLICY has issued a call for the Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN); which is open to all East African organizations and initiatives that use technology to address African civic challenges. The Network seeks to connect all practitioners, researchers, experts, and decision-makers involved in civic tech so as to raise awareness and build strategic alliances across the continent. Organisations in Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania are encouraged to join the network. Join here.