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Sunday, 21 November, 2021 - 11:08

Co-authored with Ridwan Oloyede

 

On paper, citizen's privacy rights are well protected throughout Africa. They are explicitly written into constitutions, international human rights conventions and domestic law. But, in the first comparative review of privacy protections across Africa we found that governments ignore the law to to carry out illegal digital surveillance of their citizens. What’s more, they are doing so with impunity.

This matters because people’s social, economic and political lives are increasingly being lived online, from online banking to social media conversations. 

We’ve just published research on privacy protections in surveillance law in six African countries – Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. And the evidence is clear: governments are using laws that lack clarity, or ignoring laws completely, to carry out illegal surveillance of their citizens.

Those targeted include political opponents, business rivals and peaceful activists. In many cases they were conducting mass surveillance of citizens in contravention of their own laws.

Our report finds that existing surveillance law is being eroded by six factors:

 

  1. the introduction of new laws that expand state surveillance powers.
  2. lack of legal precision and privacy safeguards in existing surveillance legislation.
  3. ...

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