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African Union Moves Towards Gagging Free Speech Online

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, International Relations, Media & Journalism

The 23rd African Union Heads of Government Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea starting on June 26, 2014, might adopt the African Union Convention on Security in Cyberspace and Personal Data Protection. Moses Karanja [1], in this article in AfricanHadithi [2], argues that this legislation might be a cover to limit online free speech in Africa:

The AU’s draft convention, seeking to secure online commerce requires full disclosure of identity information between contracting parties. This raises two issues: enforceability and privacy.

First, implementing these requirements will prove almost impossible for traders and their agents since acquisition, verification and safe storage are complicated processes demanding extra time and human resources. Second, promotion of online commerce requires striking a delicate balance between security and privacy. If a brick-and-mortar shop in Nairobi does not ask for my home address and tax PIN number, why should an online shop in Diblo Dibara, Indonesia ask for it?