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African Governments Are Requesting Your Data From Social Media Companies
African governments are trying to monitor their citizens even more closely. Which is super weird considering the fact that many of them have a tenuous grasp, at best, of technology. According to a new research, the olds are increasingly requesting our user data from global tech companies.
The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), an internet policy advocacy group published the report, based on transparency data provided by these tech companies, and found that our dictators have, between 2013 and 2016, accelerated the rate at which they request for user information, especially social media user information.
South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, and Egypt have all consistently requested user information from Google, Facebook, and Twitter; and from Africa-based mobile operators such as MTN and Orange.
Last year, Facebook received requests from 18 African governments last year with the most requests coming from South Africa, Egypt, and Sudan, including a request from Ghana to restrict access to content which it claimed violated its national laws; Since 2013, Google has gotten requests for user information from 10 African countries, with Kenya making the highest number of total requests; and Twitter has received user information requests from five countries—Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and South Sudan—in the last five years.
Facebook does not always comply with these requests. For example, in the second half of 2016, it only complied with three of South Africa’s six user information requests. Google complied with 63% of requests made by Kenya in the second half of 2013 but rejected all of Kenya’s other requests. Twitter complied with some of the “emergency requests” from Kenya and Nigeria, but rejected content removal requests from South Africa in 2016.
Nigeria requested the most information than any other African government, asking for data on 119 Facebook user accounts (lmao, wow!). Not surprising, since the Nigerian military recently admitted to monitoring social media accounts for anti-government and anti-military information.
Last year, the Nigerian government proposed a social media regulation bill prescribing a jail term and a $10,000 fine for “maliciously discrediting public office holders”. The bill was withdrawn by the Senate only after intense public - and social media - criticism. And earlier this year, the Cameroonian government imposed a 93-day internet shutdown on English-speaking parts of the country to quell anti-government protests.
snowflakes governments are struggling to accept the voice that social media has granted its citizens, instead choosing to regard the criticism and vocalness as dissent. While we understand asking for user data in connection to criminal investigations and emergencies, many of the data requests show something else: the need for African governments top exert complete control and censorship over their citizens.
It's a no from us.
By Olanrewaju Eweniyi, published on 31/08/2017