Koliwe Majama

Digital Rights and Policy Specialist

The world is increasingly becoming digitised, with a significant amount of personal data being collected, stored and mined by different public and private sector players, in the various countries and communities, for one purpose or the other. Digitisation has increased efficiency of services and enhanced customer experiences of the same, as service providers take advantage of data-driven customer insights to improve what they offer to the public. Digital technologies have also provided law enforcement and intelligence services with new methods to tackle crime as they make use of personal data, in the form of communication, transaction or location data, to investigate unlawful acts.

However, while digitisation is enhancing law and order, there are increasing concerns over the manner in which some of the data collected through automated digital technologies and data mining is being manipulated or misused. This has prompted calls for more accountable use of personal data by law enforcement and state security agencies to protect the rights of citizens.

Collection of personal data by law enforcement and state security

Law enforcement agents collect digitised personal data of targeted individuals or organisations to aid in criminal investigations at different stages and in various ways. Evidence gathered can be used in a court of law against the targeted individual. However, there are also instances where some state agents collect vast amounts of data, which is not targeted at specific individuals, but as an intelligence gathering process and for use by government in decision making.

In a recent meeting of the Global Encryption Coalition on government hacking, panellists shared forms of government hacking for either criminal investigation or intelligence gathering, with three methods most relevant to our African context. The first is remote exploit hacking, which involves the use of devices to collect information over the internet. A recent report by Citizen Lab cites use of this method in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Morocco, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia. Governments in these countries are accused of using the Israeli hacking tool Circles on targeted individuals.

Another form of intelligence gathering is the physical hack, using, for example, the GrayKey tool used by law enforcement in countries such as the United States to hack into mobile phones, including those with specialised security features such as iPhones.

The last form of intelligence gathering is the actual physical possession of digital accessories for manual extraction of data during investigations. Using this method, photographs or screenshots are taken of the device while email data and extracted recordings are sent to investigators.

Frameworks for data collection, storage and use by law enforcement agencies in Africa

Article 10 (5) of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection provides for the collection of data by state security, defence or public security services for the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences or execution of criminal convictions or security measures. Overall, the Convention seeks to establish a credible framework for cybersecurity in Africa through organisation of electronic transactions, protection of personal data, and promotion of cybersecurity, e-governance and combating cybercrime.

Following its revision in 2019, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa now carries a section on freedom of expression and access to information on the internet. This has in turn produced more guidelines on both rights in the digital age. The section contains guidelines on privacy that are relevant to collection of data by law enforcement.

Principle 40 of the Declaration provides for the protection of people’s personal information while Principles 41 and 42 address privacy and communication surveillance and establish the legal framework for the protection of personal information in Africa. Principle 41 requires that any targeted surveillance be complemented by adequate safeguards for the right to privacy, including prior authorisation from an independent judge, due process, transparency on the collection processes and purposes of the collection, and notification, among other measures. Principle 42 makes provision for the protection of personal information through independent oversight mechanisms.

Also relevant is the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms principle on privacy and personal data protection, which emphasises the need for targeted surveillance to be governed by clear and transparent laws that meet the standards of international human rights. The principle outlines the need for targeted surveillance to be based on reasonable suspicion of commission or involvement in a serious crime, with the judiciary supposed to authorise such actions. Further, the principle says individuals placed under surveillance must be notified and calls for strong parliamentary oversight in the application of surveillance laws to prevent abuse and ensure the accountability of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) instrument does not apply to the investigation of crimes or for purposes of national security. However, Directive 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 2016 makes up for this lacuna and supplements the GDPR. Directive 2016/680 contains provisions on the protection of human rights when personal data is being processed for the purposes of combating, investigating or prosecuting criminal offences.  

Status of data use by law enforcement agencies in Africa

A harmonised framework for the regulation of the collection of data by law enforcement and intelligence/security state agents that brings conformity of data protection laws of African member states is necessary at this important moment. Beyond the cross-border nature of cybercrime, a harmonised framework is necessitated by the fact that cybersecurity and personal data protection have emerged as a crucial cross-cutting theme for Africa’s digital and economic transformation agenda. This is particularly important following the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which will undoubtedly increase cross-border transacting and movement across the continent. It is of utmost importance that data protection laws consider the global nature and scope of their application and foster compatibility with other frameworks to facilitate trade in goods and services in the digital economy in an environment that does not create negative market effects and reduce consumer confidence as well as unduly restrict businesses.

Currently, Africa’s regulatory environment on the protection of data is far from ideal, as countries are at different stages of adoption and implementation of their respective legislation. The current move by Nigeria and four other nations to develop and test a framework for the harmonisation of their data protection and e-transacting across the continent is a step in the right direction in this regard, and could also facilitate accountability by law enforcement. An example of such collaboration is the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, where there is cooperation in signals intelligence under the multilateral United Kingdom-United States of America Agreement.

Several concerns on the use of personal data for law enforcement purposes have arisen across the multiple regulatory frameworks and laws on the continent. African data protection laws have been criticised as not protective of people’s human rights, with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) given overly wide-ranging powers while not providing for checks and balances to curtail state excesses. Questions have also been raised on how to regulate the investigatory powers of the state in a manner that respects the essence of fundamental rights and freedoms, particularly as new technologies are deployed, such as facial recognition, or in the use of communications metadata. At a practical level, it also raises the need to consider data protection by design and the role of data protection impact assessments in identifying and mitigating risks posed by technology and practices adopted by LEAs and the private sector.

African states have long been accused of copy-pasting European Union data protection laws. Their stance on regulating the collection of personal data for use by LEAs is no different.

African states often leave the regulation of data to old legislation which has not been adapted for the purposes of new cybercrimes, or they rely on alternative legislation which does not cater for the rights of the individual. An example is the penal codes or cybercrime laws which contain provisions on search and seizure or the use of forensic tools when investigating crimes.

In general, African data protection laws are often broad, either offering too many protections or giving wide powers to states and, by extension, LEAs. Some African states, such as Zimbabwe, still have surveillance laws which violate the right to privacy in the form of the Interception of Communications Act.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also seen some countries in Africa imposing strict restrictions and other measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some of these restrictions have curtailed freedoms and people’s fundamental human rights, including data protection. In Zimbabwe, for example, a number of activists and journalists have been arrested for retweeting messages considered offensive by the government. Surveillance and mobile tracking mechanisms have also been put in place against targeted individuals under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions but in violation of fundamental human rights.

Other states also have laws whose provisions only thinly protect human rights. Therefore, a standard set of laws and rules governing data use by LEAs are important to supplement national legislation where it is lacking.

A framework for regulating personal data collection and use by law enforcement agencies

Based on standards found in international human rights law, data protection laws regulating the use of personal data by LEAs must be enacted together with surveillance laws that are founded on human rights principles. Such laws must also be proportionate and just, and reflect international standards of human rights protections.

An ideal framework must provide that communication surveillance be both targeted and based on reasonable suspicion of involvement in the commission of a serious crime. There must be an understanding of what encompasses “reasonable suspicion” that is agreed upon so that the term is not open to numerous interpretations. A second ideal is that communication surveillance must be authorised by the judicial system to ensure fairness and impartiality. Under surveillance authorised by the judiciary, individuals must be notified as soon as practicable after the conclusion of a surveillance operation. In addition to judicial oversight, the application of surveillance laws must also be subject to parliamentary oversight to prevent abuse and ensure accountability of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies.

An ideal framework must also be premised on the human rights-based approach, which espouses active participation in decision-making processes which have an influence on people’s rights; accountability mechanisms which involve the placement of effective remedies to hold duty bearers accountable where violation of human rights occurs; the principles of non-discrimination and equality; the principle of empowerment, whereby everyone is empowered to claim and exercise their rights; and the principle of legality, ensuring that all laws and regulations are in line with the legal rights set out in domestic and international laws.

In addition to the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination and equality, empowerment and legality set out above, the principles of necessity and proportionality must also inform the laws regulating the use of personal data by law enforcement agencies. The necessity and proportionality principles are set out in detail below:

  1. Legitimate aim: Communications surveillance by specified state authorities must achieve a legitimate aim that corresponds to a predominantly important legal interest that is necessary in a democratic society. Any measure must not be applied in a manner that discriminates on any basis.
  2. Necessity: Surveillance laws, regulations, activities, powers or authorities must be limited to those which are strictly and demonstrably necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.
  3. Proportionality: Decisions about communications surveillance must consider the sensitivity of the information accessed and the severity of the infringement on human rights and other competing interests. This requires a state, at a minimum, to ensure that there is a competent judicial authority to oversee communications surveillance for the purposes of enforcing law, protecting national security, or gathering intelligence.
  4. Judicial oversight: In the form of an impartial and independent authority separate and independent from the authorities conducting communications surveillance; conversant in issues related to and competent to make judicial decisions about the legality of communications surveillance, the technologies used and human rights; and with adequate resources in exercising the functions assigned to them.
  5. Transparency: States should be transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance laws, regulations, activities, powers or authorities. They should publish, at a minimum, aggregate information on the specific number of requests approved and rejected, a disaggregation of the requests by service provider and by investigation authority, type and purpose, and the specific number of individuals affected by each. An example of this in action is illustrated by a recent South African Constitutional Court judgement in which the court added a post-surveillance notification clause to existing surveillance legislation providing that a suspect must be informed within 90 days after surveillance has ended that they had been placed under surveillance.

Conclusion

It is therefore clear that data protection laws in Africa are still in their budding stages with most of the legislations inadequate in protecting rights and other key data protection principles. There is also a need for more African countries to sign and ratify the various international instruments on data protection to ensure both the free flow of data and an accountable use of data by LEAs and intelligence services.

LEAs must also discharge their duties in a transparent manner and respect data protection rights in line with international standards and protocols. The judicial services and data protection authorities (DPAs) must play an oversight role to curb any excesses of LEAs in the discharge of their duties. The DPAs must be truly independent public entities that supervise, through investigative and corrective powers, the application of the data protection law, similar to the ones in the European Union which provide expert advice on data protection issues and handle complaints lodged against violations of the GDPR and the relevant national laws, with each member country having one of its own.


This article is based on a presentation made as part of the Global Action on Cybercrime Extended Series of Thematic Workshops on Data Protection on 3 March 2021.

Zimbabweans are learning to utilise social media to speak about their repressive government and fight for better policies.

This article was commissioned and first published by DW Akademie, as part of the Media and Information Literacy week commemorations.

Media and Information Literacy is essential for citizens to claim their human rights, especially in the digital sphere. Zimbabwean digital rights activist Koliwe Majama explores the barriers against MIL in Africa.

Although comparatively lower than in other parts of the globe, the increase in internet access and technologies in Africa has evolved the telecommunication sector, bringing about marked and significant efficiency in public services, ease in doing business, and diversity and plurality of media platforms and content. However, digital rights activists in the region continue to express concerns about the sincerity of governments in ensuring that citizens have meaningful connectivity and are fully equipped with the necessary skills that will enable them to experience the utilitarian value of the internet. 

The importance of media and information literacy (MIL) among citizens in this digitized environment cannot be overstated. With its roots in the Moscow Declaration on Media and Information Literacy, MIL is defined as a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and practices required to access, analyse, evaluate, use, produce and communicate information and knowledge in creative, legal and ethical ways that respect human rights. UNESCO added knowledge of one’s rights online, combating online violence, understanding of the ethics around access and use of information, and the engagement with media and ICTs in the promotion of equality, free expression, intercultural and interreligious dialogue to the competencies. The pillars of MIL make connections between media and information literacy and digital and ICT literacy, bringing digital rights to the fore. 

Government backlash against MIL 

In today’s digitized environment, MIL revolves around use and access to the internet. The internet has opened new channels of communication for socially marginalized and vulnerable groups and empowered people to organize themselves more efficiently while innovating digital services to improve economic growth.  

However, the manner in which MIL has revolutionized the media and information sharing among citizens — not only in the exercise of their civic rights, but also in pursuit of good governance and social justice — has resulted in backlash from some governments. In Africa, this backlash is characterized by the control and undermining of the exercise of human rights online. Increasingly, there is an adoption of more stringent laws and policies to regulate and control the use of the internet, trends of censorship and surveillance, and repression of freedom of expression. 

Gender, data costs a major barrier 

Africa’s digital divide also significantly contributes to low media, information and digital literacy among the population. In its two strands as an urban-rural and gender divide, this digital divide is exacerbated mostly by poor and limited infrastructure, high data costs, and lack of access to technologies by socially marginalized and vulnerable groups. Broadband access costs in the region remain extremely high with the average cost for 1GB constituting up to 7.12% of the average salary. This negatively impacts the right to access the internet for the majority, who live below the poverty line. Women make up the majority of the affected populace and — as well as lack of access to technologies — have a lower level of the basic literacy skills needed to engage with online content. Even then, that content is usually in a handful of languages or generally lacks appeal to the group. In a recent study, the World Wide Web Foundation noted that the lack of ICT literacy skills keeps women offline. 

Holistic approach needed 

Calls have been made to governments and private sector players to develop strategies to increase internet access for digitally excluded communities. For example, the recently revised and adopted African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa calls for the adoption of laws, policies and other measures for universal, equitable, affordable, and meaningful internet access. Apart from improvement of infrastructure, better pricing of data packages and promotion of local access initiatives, the declaration lists the facilitation of digital literacy skills for inclusive and autonomous use. Overall, this implies the need for a holistic skills development strategy hinged on a better understanding and appreciation of the benefits of the internet in overall development and a clearer focus on the skills required by different sections of society.  

For MIL to flourish, the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information should be respected and promoted. This is because freedom of expression remains a fundamental pillar of democracy. Yet in Africa, violations against free expression have extended online, resulting in surveillance and censorship as governments crackdown on, and detain, human rights defenders, journalists and activists. In most instances they cite the provision of national security and stability as justification to deny the sharing of information. Usually, the effect of this targeted clampdown on divergent views and activism results in censorship among ordinary citizens and self-policing on popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. This creates a culture of fear and results in the limited use of social media platforms for engagement in critical national discourse. A recent demonstration of this is the arrest of Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition activist, Jacob Ngarivhume in July 2020 for inciting public violence through their Twitter handles. 

In today’s digitized environment, MIL revolves around use and access to the internet. The internet has opened new channels of communication for socially marginalized and vulnerable groups and empowered people to organize themselves more efficiently while innovating digital services to improve economic growth.  

However, the manner in which MIL has revolutionized the media and information sharing among citizens — not only in the exercise of their civic rights, but also in pursuit of good governance and social justice — has resulted in backlash from some governments. In Africa, this backlash is characterized by the control and undermining of the exercise of human rights online. Increasingly, there is an adoption of more stringent laws and policies to regulate and control the use of the internet, trends of censorship and surveillance, and repression of freedom of expression. 

Gender, data costs a major barrier 

Africa’s digital divide also significantly contributes to low media, information and digital literacy among the population. In its two strands as an urban-rural and gender divide, this digital divide is exacerbated mostly by poor and limited infrastructure, high data costs, and lack of access to technologies by socially marginalized and vulnerable groups. Broadband access costs in the region remain extremely high with theaverage cost for 1GB constituting up to 7.12% of the average salary. This negatively impacts the right to access the internet for the majority, who live below the poverty line. Women make up the majority of the affected populace and — as well as lack of access to technologies — have a lower level of the basic literacy skills needed to engage with online content. Even then, that content is usually in a handful of languages or generally lacks appeal to the group. In a recent study, the World Wide Web Foundation noted that the lack of ICT literacy skills keeps women offline. 

Holistic approach needed 

Calls have been made to governments and private sector players to develop strategies to increase internet access for digitally excluded communities. For example, the recently revised and adopted African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa calls for the adoption of laws, policies and other measures for universal, equitable, affordable, and meaningful internet access. Apart from improvement of infrastructure, better pricing of data packages and promotion of local access initiatives, the declaration lists the facilitation of digital literacy skills for inclusive and autonomous use. Overall, this implies the need for a holistic skills development strategy hinged on a better understanding and appreciation of the benefits of the internet in overall development and a clearer focus on the skills required by different sections of society.  

For MIL to flourish, the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information should be respected and promoted. This is because freedom of expression remains a fundamental pillar of democracy. Yet in Africa, violations against free expression have extended online, resulting in surveillance and censorship as governments crackdown on, and detain, human rights defenders, journalists and activists. In most instances they cite the provision of national security and stability as justification to deny the sharing of information. Usually, the effect of this targeted clampdown on divergent views and activism results in censorship among ordinary citizens and self-policing on popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. This creates a culture of fear and results in the limited use of social media platforms for engagement in critical national discourse. A recent demonstration of this is the arrest of Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition activist, Jacob Ngarivhume in July 2020 for inciting public violence through their Twitter handles. 

MIL thrives in an environment with enabling legislation. However, the contradictions in the procedure and substance of cyber laws in most African countries hinders the benefits of a diverse and plural media, access to information and digital rights. Cyber legislation in Africa has been criticized for its emphasis on security at the expense of the protection and promotion of the rights of its citizens. While citizens should demand these rights, the onus remains on the government to ensure a democratic digital environment.

In an episode of The Breakdown, a program hosted by BBC Africa, Koliwe Majama is featured offering input on the impact of disinformation and misinformation on our understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At this year’s Global Media Forum (GMF) 2020 sponsored by DW’s Akademie, Koliwe and three other panelists spoke on the increasing importance of media and information literacy as a critical tool in this digital age amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other issues Koliwe highlighted the need for “community networks” in a continent where many African states control which information is made available to the public, and not all countries have economies strong enough to set up a digital infrastructure, leaving young people in danger of believing false reports and rumors that cloud their minds.

Read more expansive coverage on the session on the DW website.

Koliwe Majama was a panelist at a discussion on Media and Information Literacy at the 7th online session of the Global Media Forum.

The panel had a comprehensive discussion on the importance of media and information literacy to curb misinformation and fake news, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In her contribution, Koliwe Majama called attention to the need to equip citizens with media and information literacy so that they will be in a position to identify and evaluate the credibility of media content and distinguish it from misinformation and dis-information; identify potential abusers, technology spies and hackers; and  understand privacy implications when using and sharing data with any third parties. Koliwe Majama emphasized the need for an increase in access to information across the African continent to bolster any efforts on media and information literacy, because ‘the more people have access to media content and information, the more they become literate about the media and various sources of information.’


Zimbabwe is set to commemorate the International Day for Universal Access to Information on the 28th of September 2020. This comes at a time when the country, alongside the rest of the world, is faced with a health pandemic that has moved citizens’ daily communication, education, work, trade, and access to basic services from physical interactions to, mostly, online interactions. The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic, a few months after the adoption of a revised Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the Declaration) at the 65th Ordinary Session of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in November 2019. For Africa, the pandemic has merely served as emphasis that internet rights and freedoms are more important now than ever before.

The access to information principles contained in the revised Declaration include principles on proactive and maximum disclosure of information, information management, access to information procedures and the applicable exemptions, oversight mechanisms, whistle-blower protection, and the primacy of access to information laws. However, the highlight of the revision of the Declaration is the enumeration of normative standards for freedom of expression and access to information in a digitised environment. This is done through the inclusion of principles on access to the internet, internet intermediaries and access providers, privacy and the protection of personal information, and communication surveillance.

Increasing access to the internet

Principle 37(2) of the Declaration calls on States to “recognise that universal, equitable, affordable and meaningful access to the internet is necessary for the realisation of freedom of expression [and] access to information.” In this regard, the Declaration states that countries must “adopt laws, policies and other measures to promote affordable access to the internet,” particularly for children and marginalized groups.
Internet accessibility in Zimbabwe generally remains low, mainly because of limited infrastructure, especially in rural areas, where most Zimbabweans are located. By the end of 2019, the internet penetration rate in rural Zimbabwe stood at only 10 percent, presenting the reality of a stark urban-rural digital divide where the nationwide internet penetration rate stood around 60 percent. In this year’s second quarter report, the country’s telecommunications regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ), noted a decline in both mobile and internet penetration. This was attributed to the depressed demand in the economy, at both household and industry level, with direct impact of COVID-19 on both the formal and informal sector negatively affecting disposable incomes. Active mobile subscriptions dipped by 6.7 percent from 13,7 million to 12,7 million, while active internet and data subscriptions dropped by 4 percent, resulting in internet penetration reduction from 59.1 percent in the first quarter to 56.7 percent.
While POTRAZ has set up 87 Community Information Centres around the country, geared towards promoting internet access in marginal communities, a long term and sustainable solution is necessary. In its position paper on COVID-19 and its impact on digital rights the pan Africa digital rights initiative, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition, highlights the importance of a licensing and regulatory framework for community-owned networks. Community networks are decentralised community-built and owned internet connections. They are the most effective way to overcome digital exclusion in areas isolated from the social and economic dynamics of the digital era. The call should, therefore, be for the opening up of equal opportunities for Zimbabweans in underserved areas to access spectrum under a licensing regime with exemption provisions that will lessen administrative processes for small operators, not-for-profit operators, and other actors interested in community networks. This will result in an increase in access to the internet and the advancement of the right to information on the internet in Zimbabwe

Online content regulation

The rights to freedom of expression and access to information are cornerstones of democracy that are key to the enjoyment of other human rights. Their inextricable link lies in the fact that for the ideas expressed to be of value, there is a need for access to verifiable information, which in this case, is usually held by both public and private bodies. Citizens can only hold those in power accountable when they can access information. The signing into law of Zimbabwe’s Freedom of Information Act lays a good foundation in setting the procedure for accessing information held by both private and public institutions which is necessary for the exercise or the protection of citizens’ rights.
However, Africa is increasingly plagued by both on and offline restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information with incidences of censorship, harassment, and detention of journalists, activists, and human rights defenders as they share critical information or opinions. Control of these traditionally ‘problematic’ groups has moved from the offline to the online space and now also includes intimidation and harassment of ordinary internet users. Zimbabweans have not been spared of monitoring and controlling of their internet use and access as a means of curtailing the enjoyment and advancement of digital rights. Direct control is demonstrated by the disruption of internet services with the most recent case being in January 2019 under the order of the State Security Minister. Disruption of services demonstrates the extent to which the government is willing to limit online access to information.
Indirect control is evident in the increased deployment of anonymised social media accounts on popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which seek mainly to disrupt critical socio, economic and political conversations and, to an extent, channel out disinformation. A key characteristic of these accounts is that they usually push the agenda of the government and the ruling ZANU-PF by overshadowing dissenting voices to manipulate conversations.

Privacy, surveillance, and data protection

The development of the indirect control and monitoring of online communications is a serious threat, especially when viewed against, remarks made by the Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Edzai Chimonyo at a military graduation earlier in the year, where he announced that the military would start monitoring citizens private communications to ‘guard against subversion’. Such remarks have raised concerns about the government’s sincerity in drawing a cybersecurity and data protection law for the country.
However, the importance of data protection legislation in Zimbabwe cannot be understated given recent concerns over privacy of citizens’ information. These include the lack of clarity and transparency on the ‘sophisticated algorithm’ to determine distribution of aid during the (coronavirus) pandemic and the High Court challenge by MISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association over a police warrant seeking information on mobile phone operator’s transactions, which was successfully contested.
Principles 40- 42 of the ACHPR Declaration address the protection of personal information and communication surveillance within the ambit of the right to privacy by establishing a legal framework for the protection of personal information. Principle 42 makes provision for States to ensure that individuals consent to the processing of their personal information is not excessive, is transparent, and in accordance with the purpose for which it was collected. Additionally, individuals must have access to the personal information that is being processed and must be given an opportunity to object to the processing.

Conclusion

The steps taken by the international community and regional bodies to facilitate the full enjoyment of the rights to access to information and freedom of expression, both online and offline, will be bolstered by appropriate data protection and cybersecurity regulations implemented by the government of Zimbabwe. The commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information is both a reminder and an opportunity to further solidify internet rights in Zimbabwe, and around the continent, by implementing and adopting the principles and laws discussed above.


This article was commissioned by MISA Zimbabwe for a special supplement for the International Day for Universal Access to Information published in Zimbabwe’s daily newspapers, The Daily News and The NewsDay


Koliwe Majama gave the keynote address on the State of the Internet at the 2020 Hub Unconference, an annual new media and journalism conference hosted by the Magamba Network.

Official HUB UnConference marketing banner featuring Koliwe | PIC: Shoko Festival, Magamba Network

In her address, Koliwe Majama highlights the need for the full adoption and implementation of internet rights and freedoms at a time when most of our interactions have moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic and, simultaneously, our internet penetration rate has decreased due to reasons attributed to the current pandemic. She recommends the full engagement of civil society, governments, the private and public sectors, and other industry experts to mitigate the effects of the current pandemic on internet rights and to further solidify internet rights and freedoms across the board.  

Koliwe captured giving her State of Internet in Zimbabwe keynote | PIC: Shoko Festival, Magamba Network
Koliwe captured giving her State of Internet in Zimbabwe keynote | PIC: Shoko Festival, Magamba Network

Click here to watch a recording of the presentation. Read the keynote address here.

Zimbabwe’s leading civil society groups have petitioned the High Court seeking to block a lower court order requiring Econet Wireless to hand over its subscribers information.

In this research Koliwe and co-researcher, Chenai Chair document the lived realities and effects of Zimababwe’s digital ID system among marginalised communities

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