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Internet Policy Regulators Reveal African Government’s Request For User Data As Alarming

African governments appear to be keeping tabs on their residents than at any other time as new research shows that they are progressively asking for client information from worldwide tech organizations.

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), a gathering concentrated on web arrangement on the mainland, crunched data from straightforwardness reports distributed by a portion of the world’s biggest tech organizations. The subsequent report discovered that online networking client data demands from African governments have quickened in the vicinity of 2013 and 2016.

While the organizations’ reports are essential to understanding restriction and observation by governments, CIPESA alerts that they can’t be utilized as a sole measure of the degree of reconnaissance and control of substance by government. In any case, they do demonstrate the size of solicitations from singular governments for supporter information and substance evacuation.

What’s more, worryingly, there’s a “developing pattern” in Africa for such demands.

South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, and Egypt have all consistently requested user information from Google, Facebook, and Twitter. CIPESA also surveyed reports from Africa-based mobile operators such as MTN and Orange.

Facebook, which has distributed reports specifying government demands since 2013, said it got demands from 18 African governments a year ago, contrasted with just five in the main portion of 2013. South Africa, Egypt, and Sudan made the most demands for client data. Client asks for are regularly made for account records in association with criminal examinations and crises. The web-based social networking monster has likewise gotten a demand from Ghana to limit access to content which it guaranteed abused its national laws.

Facebook does not generally conform to these solicitations. For instance, in the second 50% of 2016, it just followed three of South Africa’s six client data demands.

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Nigeria requested the most information than any other African government, asking for data on 119 Facebook user accounts. That fits with the government’s strong rhetoric on social media. The military has recently admitted to monitoring social media accounts for anti-government and anti-military information. Last year, a proposed social media regulation bill prescribing a jail term and a $10,000 fine for “maliciously discrediting public office holders” was withdrawn by the Senate only after intense public criticism.

Nigeria’s government, like many others on the continent, have struggled to deal with an increasingly vocal and critical electoratewhose dissatisfaction has been amplified through social media. Many governments have tended to regard the criticism as dissent. Earlier this year, the Cameroonian government imposed a 93-day internet shutdown on English-speaking parts of the country to quell anti-government protests.

Since 2013, Google has gotten requests for user information from 10 African countries, with Kenya making the highest number of total requests. Like Facebook, Google also doesn’t comply with all requests. While it complied with 63% of requests made by Kenya in the second half of 2013 in relation to 11 user accounts, it has rejected all of Kenya’s other requests.

For its part, Twitter has received user information requests from five countries—Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and South Sudan—in the last five years. While some of the “emergency requests” from Kenya and Nigeria were complied with, the micro-blogging site rejected content removal requests from South Africa in 2016.

 

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