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African nations grapple with digital rights regulation

African nations grapple with digital rights regulation

Government officials from East and Southern Africa have agreed to establish a Parliamentary Coalition on Human Rights in the Digital Age and collaborate on relevant legislation.

This was the outcome of a two-day internet policy workshop hosted recently in Nairobi by Paradigm Initiative (PI) and organised to help policymakers to formulate cyber laws and policies centred on human rights.

According to PI's Bulanda Nkhowani the two regions face similar threats to internet freedom including internet taxes, repressive cyber laws and massive detentions of activists and internet users in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The workshop included practical sessions focused on developing a regional digital rights and freedom framework.... " and a look at the Tanzanian case study where the groups discussed intermediary digital rights implications and stakeholder concerns in the case of Maxence Melo and Jamii Forums," Nkhowani added.

Officials discussed several topics including digital rights, implementation of internet taxes, social media and elections, digital identity, regulating fake news, hate speech and harmful content, among others.

Delegates expressed a desire for greater awareness on digital rights and responsibilities to curb harmful content, fake news and cyberbullying.

Regional representatives have agreed to collaborate through digital rights forums and trainings, as well as network to share knowledge on best practices.

They are also interested in receiving technical support from PI "to review and harmonise existing laws that they are engaging with within their respective countries, as well as the introduction of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, if and when they desire to do (so)."

Thoko Tembo, representing the government of Malawi, said knowledge derived from the workshop will help to formulate the right policy to ensure citizens enjoy digital rights.

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