Monthly Digest: June 2021

Kweeta Team June 30, 2021

Whether it's opinions on fostering digital human rights - or simply the valuable lessons learned along the way, here is the Digital Human Rights Lab's round-up of the last month's most interesting articles and stories.

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Must-Read Articles of the Month

Whether it's opinions on fostering digital human rights - or simply the valuable lessons learned along the way, here's a round-up of the past month's most interesting articles and stories.

Uganda’s move to tax internet data will hurt innovation

While scrapping the controversial social media tax, the Ugandan government in its annual budget for the 2021-22 financial year has introduced a 12 % excise duty on internet data usage. The latest move will force 21 million internet users to shell out 12% tax while purchasing data packages.

Telcos scrap OTT in preparation for new internet tax

Telecom companies in Uganda have begun removing the infamous Over-the-Top (OTT) tax as advised by the government in preparation for the introduction of a 12% excise duty on internet services. The Parliament of Uganda recently passed the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act, 2021, which imposes an excise duty of 12% of prices charged for Internet data except Internet services used for medical or educational purposes. The excise duty is collectable effective 1st July 2021.

Millions of Ugandans denied vital services over digital ID cards

Six years after they were introduced, government data shows that a quarter of Ugandan adults—4.5 million people did not have a biometric identity card in 2020, with pregnant women being turned away from health centres and the elderly people unable to claim social welfare payments.

#KeepItOn: Nigerians launch legal action against government’s Twitter Ban

Following the indefinite suspension of the social media platform Twitter in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a local rights group, and 176 Nigerians filed a lawsuit at the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, calling for an interim injunction restraining government from implementing the ban.

Ugandasecures $200 million to Accelerate Digital Transformation and Inclusiveness

The World Bank approved $200 million financing to expand access to high-speed and affordable internet, improve efficiency of digitally enabled public service delivery, and strengthen digital inclusion in Uganda.

Internet shutdowns in Africa threaten democracy

Faced with media landscapes under the strict control of autocratic governments, citizens of many African countries have found space for free expression online. For some, it is the first time that they can speak without filter about the governance of their country and question the government propaganda. The internet and use of smartphones are also key tools for opposition parties and civil society groups to collect and centralize information about anomalies observed during an electoral process.

Twitter Presence in Africa won’t end Internet Censorship

For more than two decades, different governments have used a plethora of measures to stifle people’s ability to organize, voice opinions and participate in governance online. The most common measures deployed are digital surveillance, disinformation, introduction of laws reducing digital rights and arrests for online speech. Countries have used national security as a justification to pass vague laws inciting public order and have persuaded sites such as Facebook and Google to take down content, they consider offensive.

Who is shutting down the internet in 2021?

To show which governments are shutting down the internet in 2021, the global #KeepItOn coalition—representing 258 organizations from 106 countries has documented at least 50 internet shutdowns in 21 countries between January and May.

Community updates

With so much going on it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening in the world of social impact. Stay informed and inspired with our handpicked content from the DHRLab Community.

Report: Uganda’s Digital ID and exclusion

In Uganda, a National Identity (ID) card is mandatory to access healthcare, social benefits, to vote, get a bank account, obtain mobile phone or travel. When IDs are made critical gateway to access human rights, the inevitable consequence is exclusion, as this new report titled, Chased Away and Left To Die, by Unwanted Witness in partnership with the Initiative For Social and Economic Rights shows. Many pregnant women and elderly people, according to the report are unable to access services because they lack an ID.

Data Artistry for Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already limited mental health care services in Uganda. But for creatives whose livelihood majorly depends on in-person engagement like indoor and outdoor concerts, the effect of the pandemic has been more profound. As this report from Pollicy titled Data & Art Therapy for Mental Health Challenges shows, creatives battled a series of mental health disorders, anxiety, depression, stress and suicidal thoughts.

Podcast #8: Mental Health for HRDs

Mental illness is often presented as something to be ashamed of. As a result, people don’t speak up when they’re faced with a mental health challenge. In this latest episode of the podcast, DHRLab Engagement Leads Daniel Odongo and Phillip Ayazika invited Joy Mukasa Leah (AHAR) and Tusiime Tutu (Trainer, Poet, DHRLab Blogger) to explore how opening up about mental health can increase inner stability.

World Refugee Day: A focus on exiled Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Defenders make up a growing number of refugees in Africa. They are often forced to flee their homes because of their human rights work. Despite the challenges they often encounter, many remain resilient. To honour the courage and strength of refugees including human rights defenders who have fled persecution, DefendersDefenders highlights some of the challenges that they continue to face.

Meet the Innovation Program Winning Teams

Four teams became the latest beneficiaries of the second round of the Innovation program after successfully pitching their ideas that aim to provide innovative digital solutions to advance human rights. The winners share a Shs60million grant and benefit from a six-month mentorship program to further work on their ideas.

Opportunities I Tips I Resources

Every month, we collate the best opportunities, tips and resources for digital human rights practitioners in our community.

Call for applications: Connecting the Unconnected Challenge

Internet access is critical to education, industry and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to sell goods and services online, and students lack access to schooling. To address this challenge, IEE’s Future Networks Initiative is seeking innovative solutions to connect the unconnected along with services and applications that can better meet social needs such as education and health. Application details can be found here.

14th International Conference on ICT, Society and Human Beings

The effects of ICT on human beings as well as the interaction between ICT, individuals, and society are all within the focus of this conference. Today, computer science and ICT-related disciplines are working more and more together with various behavioural and social sciences including child psychology and developmental psychology. The 14th International Conference on ICT, Society and Human Beings which will be held virtually from July 20-22 will discuss these and many more. Find more details here.

Localization Lab is hiring

The localization team is looking for talented individuals to join their team and be at the forefront of creating more equitable and accessible technologies and diverse digital spaces for underserved communities around the world. Do you fit the bill? Checkout the website for more details.

Journal of Cyber Policy: Call for papers

The Journal of Cyber Policy in 2021-2022 will explore cyber and digital technology in emerging economies, the challenges facing them, and the efforts needed to overcome these challenges. Through this call for papers, Journal for Cyber Policy is looking for interdisciplinary research across different fields, regions and stakeholder groups which will provide in-depth policy understanding of cyber and technology in emerging economies, the challenges, the gaps as well as the opportunities.

If you have an activity, article or up-coming event that you would like to share with the DHRLab Community, please email dhrlab@futurechallenges.org or info@dhrlab.org.