Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies not to sell technology used in suppressing human rights
A recent joint report by the Open Observatory for Network Interference and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law has concluded that there is sufficient evidence of recent internet shutdowns in Ethiopia, which pose restrictions on demonstrations and human rights generally. Consequently, Access Now has urged technology companies not to sell software used in supressing human rights.
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Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies to "desist from selling or servicing technology" used to "infringe on human rights"
Author: Access Now (USA)
"What’s happening in Ethiopia and how can we protect human rights?"
Ethiopia has issued a six-month state of emergency in the country following months of citizen protests. The state of emergency comes in an environment of increasing repression. Government forces have killed more than 500 people since November 2015 and authorities have already shut down access to social media in the Oromia region four times this year...Internet shutdowns do not restore order. They hamper journalism, obscure the truth of what is happening on the ground, and stop people from getting the information they need to keep safe.
...In the U.N. statement last week, special rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Dr. Agnes Callamard said, “We are outraged at the alarming allegations of mass killings, thousands of injuries, tens of thousands of arrests and hundreds of enforced disappearances…We are also extremely concerned by numerous reports that those arrested had faced torture and ill-treatment in military detention centres.”...
[We urge] companies selling products or services in Ethiopia] to d]esist from selling or servicing technology that is used to infringe on human rights in the country. This includes technology used to surveil citizens or technology used to disrupt access to information online. Some of the companies with a record of bad practices in Ethiopia include Hacking Team and Gamma International.
- Related stories: Ethiopia: Access Now urges companies not to sell technology used in suppressing human rights
- Related in-depth areas: Human rights defenders
- Related companies: Gamma International (part of Gamma Group) Hacking Team
Author: Moses Karanja (CIPIT), Maria Xynou & Arturo Filastò, in Open Observatory of Network Interference's blog
"Ethiopia: Internet Shutdown Amidst Recent Protests?"
Nearly 100 deaths and thousands of arrests have been reported in Ethiopia over the last days, as part of protests against the marginalization and persecution of the Oromos and Amharas, Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups...Last weekend, the internet was reportedly shut down in the country.
In an attempt to understand whether the internet was in fact shut down, we looked at some public sources of data that contain information about internet traffic. Such data provides strong indicators that the internet was most likely shut down during the Ethiopian protests last weekend, though it remains unclear if this occurred in all regions and/or on all types of networks across the country...
Internet shutdowns effectively pose restrictions on demonstrations and on human rights generally. In the recent case of Ethiopia, shutting down the internet in the middle of intense protests likely not only had an effect on the mobilization and coordination of protesters, but also on the communication between families and friends of victims. This also likely had an effect on journalists reporting on the protests in real-time on the ground, if they were using networks that were blocked.