Monthly Digest: October 2022

Phillip Ayazika Oct. 25, 2022

Whether its 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, stories, events, and community updates


Must-read Articles of the Month

Here's a round-up of the past month's most interesting articles and stories.

Uganda's Computer Misuse Act faulty, will curtail freedoms, say rights activists

Rights activists, journalists, and politicians have faulted the new law on Computer Misuse, arguing that it could curtail press freedom and freedom of speech and expression. Recently Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 that could see citizens who violate the privacy of others, or tarnish their reputation online, sent to a five-year jail term. The Bill provides for a jail term for anybody who shares or sends unsolicited offensive information or hate speech.

One of the Longest Shutdowns in the world? A two-year internet outage in Ethiopia

Around the world, internet shutdowns have become more sophisticated, lasting longer, harming people and the economy, and targeting vulnerable groups worldwide, according to digital rights group Access Now. Few have been spared the effects of a nearly two-year internet and phone shutdown in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which has been cut off since fighting erupted between Tigrayan rebels and government forces in November 2020.

Equipping Leaders with the Tools for Digital Transformation

Digital technologies offer new avenues for economic growth in Africa by accelerating job creation, supporting access to public services, and increasing productivity and innovation. However, major challenges remain. The lack of connectivity in remote and rural regions and the low use of digital technologies in connected areas is further disadvantaging the poor, women, and small businesses. Increased cyber risks and lack of data protection have brought new risks and vulnerabilities to businesses, governments, and people.

The US supreme court case that could bring the tech giants to their knees

The question of whether social media firms should be responsible for content recommended to users is set to be re-examined – and not before time. Legal scholars have been arguing for decades that section 230 needs revision. Freedom of speech fanatics sees it as a keystone of liberty, as the “kill switch” of the web. Donald Trump made threatening noises about it. Tech critics (such as this columnist) regard it as an enabler of corporate hypocrisy and irresponsibility.

Lungu law looms dangerously over Zambian digital rights

With elections looming in August 2021, Zambian president Edgar Lungu signed into law a batch of cyber or online laws. One of the laws has remained especially problematic into 2022. The most contentious of the three new laws, the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act, attracted criticism from politicians and civil society actors even before it was enacted and after it was signed into law. To many observers, the quick enactment of the law appeared to be a thinly veiled attempt at orchestrating social media regulation and clamping down on Zambians’ online political expression under the guise of ostensibly fighting cybercrime. This was because president Lungu, in the run-up to the passing of the law and his signing it, had been vocal about dealing with “people who abuse social media

Data and online privacy under attack in Southern Africa: Showcasing the will and commitment of those fighting

Digital rights are under threat everywhere across the African continent at the moment. This is borne out and underscored by a string of influential reports over recent years from prominent regional and global civil society, and multilateral and digital rights non-governmental organizations. The constricting of digital civic spaces through lawfare, the use of sophisticated spyware by some governments to invasively and violating intrude into and monitor people’s lives, pervasive social media-mediated disinformation souring online experiences, rampant cybercriminal attacks, and the dehumanizing commercial surveillance economy all combine to degrade Africans’ online lives.

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.

Misuse, Abuse, and Re-Use: The Effects of the Computer Misuse Act Amendments on LGBTQ Persons in Uganda

This amended law is worrying because, in between the lines, it assumes that all speech on social media platforms is somehow meant to be flattering and positive, which, as any Gen-Z who has been on social media for a few years knows, is not what the algorithms were meant to amplify (check your TikTok For You Page if you're doubting the power of the algorithm in amplifying divisiveness).

The Drone Industry in Uganda: A multifaceted Pandora's Box

Not a day goes by without another spectacular story about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones. in Uganda, drones delivering antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to remote islands were launched; they have also been deployed for election inspection in the recently concluded by-elections in Uganda, agricultural businesses, and farm projects for daily commercial use. In Kenya, an air cargo company called Astral Aerial started using drones in 2017, offering a wide range of services from job tracking to aerial mapping, oilfield exploration, and last-mile delivery. However, the increased use of drones in Uganda and elsewhere in the World has led to privacy and Data protection concerns among citizens and Privacy Advocates.

Opportunities | Tips | Resources | Events

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

The Digital Security Expo 2022

The #DigiSecCon aims to bring together different sector perspectives (e.g., education and social development, human rights, policymakers, health, ICT, finance, justice, law & order, etc.) to highlight the contemporary digital/cyber challenges, emerging trends, drivers and consequences of inequality in the age of digitalization. We strive to identify and highlight viable digital solutions to contemporary problems in this context. It has been agreed that the #DigiSeCon 2022 takes the shape of an exhibition. The expo seeks to bring together technologists, innovators, start-ups, the private sector, telecoms, banks, the Ministry of ICT, and NITA-U, all working on digital innovations that address some of the challenges that the civil society and citizenry face in this technology era

Digital Creatives MeetUp, Uganda: Enduring blind spots and Infinite opportunities

Pollicy invites you on Friday, October 28th for a conversation on the digital creatives industry in Uganda happening at MoTIV starting at 3:00 pm EAT. The conversation will bring together selected participants from the creative arts space in the country. We will also be sharing one of our recently published reports titled; Enduring blindspots and Infinite opportunities- Digital Creative Industries in Uganda’ led by the Principal Investigator Zulfa Bobina, our Research and Digital Rights Researcher. This report is a mapping of the digital creative industries’ landscape in Kampala, Uganda and it aims to contribute to the data available on the sector as a way of supporting the relevant stakeholders to make evidence-based decision-making aimed at a more robust digital but also the entire creative industry as a whole

Privacy Symposium Africa 2022

The PRIVACY SYMPOSIUM AFRICA (PSA) is a Pan African Privacy and Data Protection platform established in 2019 by Unwanted Witness to attract, present, and discuss original research results and the latest technological developments related to personal data protection and privacy. The Privacy Symposium Africa since its establishment has offered innovative propositions in legal, regulatory, academic, policy, and technological development in the area of Privacy and Data Protection. The platform gathers the Business community, ICT experts, academics, lawyers, regulators, policy-makers, and civil society for three days of inspiring keynote addresses, thought-provoking panels, masterclasses, and limitless high-value networking. This year the 4th Privacy Symposium Africa is co-organized by Unwanted Witness, and the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), Strathmore University and shall be held in Nairobi from 2nd – 4th Nov 2022. It will be a mixture of Virtual and Physical sessions (hybrid).

AIRA Talks VI: Tech Sector Accountability for Digital Rights

#AIRATalks! The sixth and final #AIRATalks this year will discuss Tech Sector Accountability for Digital Rights. Join in! The African Internet Rights Alliance (AIRA) envisions an Africa where #DigitalRights are upheld in all aspects of life, governance, and the economy.

Twitter Spaces: Experiences of Mental Health Advocates

Join Andariya Magazine and Awesome Mind Speaks as they engage and share their experiences and journeys advocating Mental Health issues in a digital age in this upcoming twitter space.

State of Internet Freedom in Africa Report

This latest report by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) documents the emerging and current trends in biometric data collection and processing in Africa. It focuses on the deployment of national biometric technology-based programmes in 16 African countries, namely Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia. The report is the ninth consecutive one issued by CIPESA since 2014 under the State of Internet Freedom in Africa series. It was released at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), in Lusaka, Zambia.

Advocacy Assembly

Explore Advocacy Assembly, a free training platform for journalists and human rights activists. Their online multimedia courses are taught by human rights, media, design, and data professionals from leading organizations from around the world. The courses are available in Arabic, English, Farsi, and Spanish