East Africa: Cyber-control under guise of hate speech
02 May 20123 comments
While prohibition of incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination is necessary given the effects of hate propaganda in the region, governments need to be more cautious in adopting control mechanisms likely to unduly restrict innovation and freedom of expression.
Under the guise of fighting hate speech, preventing cyber-crime and ensuring national security, East African governments are putting up controls on social media in total disregard to their human rights obligations.
Kenya is the latest to join its other neighbours, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Uganda, who have perfected the art of internet surveillance and censorship. Kenya’s move was best captured by the Permanent Secretary who said, “we are making contact with most social media sites. We shall do what it takes to protect Kenyans from offensive material including working with established social media like Twitter.”
Although a leader in the region in terms of expanding use of ICTs, Kenya, like Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea has made it mandatory for all Internet Service providers to build in surveillance capabilities to facilitate continued filtering, interception, censorship by state security agencies even without valid and applicable legal requests.