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.

JANUARY

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…

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

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito explores Africa’s participation and contributions in internet governance, focusing on submissions to the NETmundial conference from African stakeholders. This post was originally published on the Access blog on April 14, 2014 and can be found here.

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; secures 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 seen in the 2013 African IGF Report. African IGF…

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Reflections for the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar

This post by Alison Gillwald is part of a series related to the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy: The Third Man Theme Revisited: Foreign Policies of the Internet in a Time Of Surveillance and Disclosure, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from March 30 – April 1, 2014. 

The work of Research ICT Africa (RIA) in relation to internet governance has sought to understand why few African countries participate actively in internet governance debates, despite the significant resources of multilateral and donor agencies thrown at such endeavours and opportunities created for participation through multistakeholder initiatives – with a few notable exceptions such as Kenya. Fewer still are involved in agenda setting and decision-making, or seek to engineer internet governance outcomes to serve their interests, whatever those might be perceived to be. This is despite the rhetoric of dissatisfaction with current internet governance systems.

From an African perspective, internet governance requires not only an understanding of the unevenness in access to and use of the internet, but also of the disparities between developed and developing countries’ abilities to effectively participate in global internet governance debates. My own intermittent work in this area has sought to identify the political and economic assumptions underpinning the governance of the internet, specifically behind efforts to make it more democratic, both representative and participatory, through multistakeholderism from an institutional perspective.

African countries appear to be far more comfortable in national sovereign state membership based organizations, where – despite limited institutional reforms over the last decade which have seen parts of civil society and…

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