Week in Review: July 13, 2018

by Mary Meisenzahl

Zambia plans to create new law to regulate social media

Last week, Zambia announced plans to introduce new laws to regulate social media use. According to the Communications Minister Brian Mushimba, these laws are intended to fight cyber-crime and curb pornography consumption. He said that the new laws, which would likely be debated before parliament next year, would lower rates of identity theft and bring behavior in Zambia back within cultural boundaries. The Minister confirmed that the penalty will not be a social media tax like in the case of neighbor Uganda, but likely some other kind of punishment for misuse of platforms.

UN adopts Internet Resolution on human rights

On July 5 the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted an updated Internet Resolution that affirmed people’s human rights offline must be protected online as well. Resolutions are non-binding, but they sometimes influence national policies. The resolution was first adopted in 2012 and has been updated significantly since. This newest version includes provisions on rights to privacy and reducing the gender-based digital divide. It also included language about limiting terrorist use of the Internet, which Access Now says “now comes close to threatening — instead of promoting respect for — the rights of people using the internet” by allowing the potential for increased censorship of not just terrorists but any Internet users.

NetBlocks and CIPESA announce launch of COST tool

NetBlocks and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will launch their Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) in Africa. The launch will take place at the Forum on African Freedom in Ghana in September. The tool, which was developed with the help of Internet Society, will be used to estimate the economic impacts of Internet shutdowns, which can include events such as data blackouts and restrictions on social media. Both organizations are part of the #KeepItOn coalition, which supports open Internet access and keeps track of Internet shutdowns.

Correction: The original publication of this Week in Review on July 12, 2018 incorrectly attributed a quote to Global Voices in our recap of the UN’s adoption of the Internet resolution on human rights. Access Now is the correct source of the quote.