African convention on cybercrimes could silence free speech online

Amid concerns that the proposed African Union Convention on Cybersecurity (AUCC) will limit free speech online the drafters of the AUC have agreed to receive input from outside organisations.

The Web We Want, a campaign aimed at promoting an internet where everyone can participate in the free flow of knowledge, ideas, collaboration and creativity, put forward a proposal after criticism that the convention should not be passed until changes have been made to it.

The convention, which will be signed in January 2014, proposes the prevention of cybercrime in 15 African states “through the organisation of electronic transactions, protection of personal data, promotion of cyber security, e-governance and combating cybercrime”. According to the Norton Cybercrime Report 2012, South Africa ranks 3rd globally for the number of cybercrime victims, behind Russia and China.

However it has been suggested that the convention should not be passed in its current form as it “dangerously imposes broad limitations on freedom of expression by permitting the interception of content data and traffic data on unfounded grounds, such as ‘where the imperatives of the information so dictate’”.

According to the Kenyan-based Strathmore University’s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) the convention could abuse Africans’ right to privacy, harm freedom of expression and place too much power in the hands of judges who, in the “public interest”, will have the authority to intercept individuals’ electronic communications without their permission.

Taking this into account this week will see an online discussion on the proposed changes to the AUCC by Kenyan and Ugandan stakeholders. Sponsored by KICTAnet, the Kenya ICT Action Network, and in partnership with Web We Want the five day digital event will call for a discussion of articles from the convention in need of further clarification and recommendations. The Web We Want has called upon international NGOs to put forward their concerns regarding the AUCC and internet freedom to be deliberated over the coming week.

This article was posted on 26 Nov 2013 at

Somali journalists held for photographing military action

War photographer and AFP stringer, Mohamed Dahir and Mohamoud Muktar Koofi, a Universal TV cameraman, were arrested and detained for 48 hours on 28 October after they were seen photographing African Union tanks firing at Bakara Market, Mogadishu. The journalists, arrested by Government police, were held at the presidential palace, Villa Somalia. Their cameras were seized and the images erased.