By Lillian Nalwoga |

The annual Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) has commenced in Valencia, Spain with hundreds of journalists, activists, technologists, policy advocates, digital safety trainers, and designers from around the world in attendance. The Collaboration on International ICT policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will host a session “Internet Freedom in Africa: Navigating the challenges” to spark conversation on current internet freedom challenges in Africa while providing possible solutions. In addition, CIPESA shall join panel sessions hosted by partners, such as the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Hivos, the Ford Foundation and International Media Support (IMS).
The IFF is built upon the goals of creating an inclusive information and resource sharing space, increasing the diversity of the internet freedom community, and collectively improving the services, strategies, and tools offered to the most vulnerable individuals by mapping censorship, surveillance and access obstacles faced in different regions in the world.
As internet usage rises in Africa, so do the abuses and attacks on online rights fuelled by the proliferation of laws which negate the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Further, limited judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications are contributing to self-censorship and threatening civic participation and free flow of information online.
The ethos of the IFF resonates with CIPESA’s  areas of the work. These include monitoring online rights violations and information control tactics, championing  a network of actors in Africa to advance progressive policy development and multi-stakeholder engagements and capacity building on digital skills among human rights defenders and journalists. The session we shall  host on navigating internet freedom challenges in Africa will partly be informed by  CIPESA’s report on the State of Internet freedom in Africa 2016 and issues that are influencing the right to information, data privacy and free speech online in Africa. We will also explore the lessons learnt from researching and advocating for internet freedom in various African countries.
The session will offer participants an opportunity to interact with internet freedom thought leaders from Africa by exploring two key questions:

  1. What is the status of internet freedom in Africa?
  2. How can we ensure a sustainable approach in promoting a free, open and safe internet in Africa?

Join us Friday March 10, 2017 09:45 – 10:45am in the Visual Room or contribute to the conversation online: #InternetFreedomAfrica @cipesaug @opennetafrica
Other sessions at IFF of interest to CIPESA, some of which shall feature CIPESA staff, include:

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