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16 Jan 2019

Global Voices - ADVOX

Africa: Legal & economic cost of speaking out online increased in 2018, research says

"Taxed, throttled or thrown in jail: Africa’s new internet paradigm", 11 Jan 2019

Africa’s landscape of online free speech and dissent has gradually, but consistently, been tightened in recent years. In 2018 in particular, the cost of speaking out — both legally and economically — was on the rise across the continent. This past year, the imposition of taxes and licensing fees on social media use and blogging in countries like Tanzania and Uganda made it more costly for Africans...to communicate, seek information and conduct business online... Internet shutdowns remained a threat in times of public unrest or political transition, like elections. Chadthe Democratic Republic of CongoEthiopia and Mali all experienced government-ordered internet shutdowns in 2018... infamous shutdown in Cameroon claimed the world record for the longest known internet shutdown... [M]edia workers have been jailed on charges ranging from publishing “false information” to exposing state secrets to terrorism. Taken together, these three types of state control over internet access and use have made sub-Saharan Africa a place where the cost of using the internet — and the political risks of using it to speak out — have become too high for many citizens to undertake. Promises of intellectual and economic empowerment heavily touted by international and intergovernmental organizations are becoming a pipe dream for too many people on the continent...