Week in Review: February 19, 2018

by Dan Bateyko

Egypt shuts down Internet access in Sinai Peninsula

Last Friday, the Egyptian Armed Forces began an Internet shutdown across Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as part of its effort to combat “terrorists and criminal elements and organizations” in the region, reports Asser Khattab for SMEX. According to SMEX, Egyptian citizens have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag, سيناء_خارج_التغطية, or “Sinai is out of the coverage area” to express their concerns. Internet disruptions of varying degrees are common in the Sinai peninsula, hindering locals’ access to online and emergency services. As the SMEX report notes, limits to online access extend beyond the Sinai Peninsula, with the Egyptian government blocking “at least 496 websites.” During the 2011 Egyptian Protests, Egypt conducted a total Internet shutdown, in what Dyn called “an action unprecedented in Internet history.

To read the full SMEX report, visit: https://smex.org/out-of-coverage-area-sinai-peninsula-residents-unreachable/

1st Mile Institute shares interviews from Indigenous Connectivity Summit

The 1st Mile Institute, a New Mexico non-profit promoting open network broadband shared video interviews with participants from the first Indigenous Connectivity Summit, an Internet Society initiative showcas[ing] success stories of Indigenous community networks, in Canada, the United States, and around the globe to help find solutions to improve Internet access for all.”

The interviews represent participants from a number of initiatives, nations, and Indigenous communities. Pearl Lee, the program manager at Navajo Nation Telecommunications & Utilities department, speaks about the need for a nationwide IT assessment to plan for greater broadband coverage. Raymond Ortiz from REDI Net New Mexico, an open access community broadband network owned by a consortium of local and tribal governments, discusses providing transport services to county and tribal governments as a way of bringing competition and aiding education and healthcare systems. Issa Nyaphaga talks about their nonprofit, a multilingual community radio station run off-grid for indigenous people in the equatorial rainforest of Cameroon, which helps deliver health information like proper sanitation and the use of mosquito nets. Nyaphaga was also invited at the summit to display their tribal-inspired body paint performance. Brandon Benallie, a network security consultant of the Towering House People born for the Badger Clan of the Third Mesa/Hotevilla Hopi people, raises questions involving the problems of rural and native people about equal access to information: “what does the future of indigenous people look like with Internet technology? Does it mean we confirm to settler ideas of success or does it mean we define our own terms of how to use technology?”

A stream of the event can be found on the Internet Society page here: https://www.internetsociety.org/events/indigenous-connectivity-summit/

The Bloggers Association of Kenya publishes 2017 State of the Internet in Kenya Report

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) released this year’s annual report on the state of the Internet in Kenya, reports iFreedoms Kenya, a BAKE program promoting media rights online. The report discusses the manner in which the Internet was used for campaigning and false information dissemination during the 2017 General Election, as well as the ways digital rights organizations campaigned to prevent an Internet shutdown.

The report’s introduction notes that fewer bloggers were arrested in 2017 than in 2016 and highlights the Supreme Court’s decisions on the respect of technology in rule of law and access to information. BAKE also praises the striking of a clause in the penal code concerning “undermining the authority of a public officer”, which was ruled unconstitutional in 2017.

The State of the Internet in Kenya report also included valuable statistics on Internet use in Kenya, including mobile subscriptions and browsing habits. The report in its entirety can be found on the iFreedoms Kenya website here.