The African Digital Rights Network brings together activists, researchers, journalists, and policymakers working on digital rights in Africa. 

Network members share a commitment to opening online democratic space and to enabling citizens to freely exercise their digital rights including the rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and speech.
 

Our initial Digital Rights reports identified a wide range of citizen use of digital technologies to open up new civic space online in order to exercise their rights to opinion and expression. The reports also identified an even larger range of tech tools and tactics being deployed by governments and corporations to close down online civic space. 

Our new Surveillance Law reports examines surveillance legislation in six different African countries to understand more about the ways that legislation is used both to open and protect civic space but also how it is circumvented by state agencies in ways that violate privacy and other fundamental rights.

Surveillance Law in African: a review of six countries 

Our new report reviews the legal protections of privacy rights in African legislation and focuses on Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan and can be downloaded here

  • We led the DSA conference track "From Hashtag Openings to Disinformation Closings: digital openings and closings of online civic space" in 2021.
     
  • In 2022 we are convening a conference track on Digital Rights & Activism. Paper submissions are now open. The conference will be in Lima, Peru. 25-27 May 2022.
     
  • We are publishing a collected edition book on Digital Citizenship in Africa in 2022 with Zed Books as part of our Digital Africa series.
     
  • We are publishing a collected edition book on Digital Disinformation in Africa in 2023 with Zed Books as part of our Digital Africa series.
     
  • We are expanding the Network by admitting additional members from new countries or who bring expertise from new thematic areas

For more information on membership, research collaborations, or media enquiries contact us.

 

 

Digital Rights 
Country Reports

The African Digital Rights network has published ten Digital Rights Landscape Reports by authors from

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Sudan, 
South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, 
Egypt, and Cameroon.

  • We are hosting the DSA conference track "From Hashtag Openings to Disinformation Closings: digital openings and closings of online civic space"
     
  • We have begun new research on Digital Citizenship in Africa for publication in June
     
  • We are publishing three books as part of our Digital Africa series
     
  • We are expanding the Network by admitting additional members from new countries or who bring expertise from new thematic areas

For more information on membership, research collaborations, or media enquiries contact us.

 

 

Our first publication documented the main digital openings and closings as illustrated below.
 
Openings and Closings

Digital Rights Whack-a-Mole 

Reading across the ten Digital Rights Country Reports one pattern that emerges is that every new generation of technology used by activists to enable freedom of expression is met by multipe government tactics to deny citizens their digital rights. This happened with SMS activism, blogging, social media and even with privacy and anonymisation tools. The dynamic resembles one where repressive governments play whack-a-mole with citizens digital rights. 

Citizen-led campaigns like #RhodesMustFall in South Africa, #ENDSARS in Nigeria, and #FreeBobiWine in Uganda opened online space and put neglected issues on the national and international agendas. Repressive governments have invested heavily in digital surveillance, disinformation and internet disruption technologies to deter dissent and dampen online democracy. This contestation of digital space is unequal. For every new technology used by citizens to open democratic space online there seem to be three or four new repressive tools or tactics deployed by the state or other powerful groups. 

Funders

the African Digital Rights Network gratefully acknowledges financial support from 

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