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South Sudan Digital Rights Workshop
Internet Access, Telecommunications, and the Right to Expression, Access to Information, and the Right to Privacy
Date: Monday 25th – Wednesday 27th March 2019, Juba, South Sudan
Time: 9: 00 am – 5:00 pm (Daily)
The Internet is the most disruptive communication technology of our time, revolutionising the free flow of information between individuals by offering anyone with an Internet connection the ability to gather and share information and ideas. Yet the technologies that make this possible can also be used to limit access to information through content blocking and full-scale Internet shutdowns, or stifle expression through surveillance on a scale previously unimaginable.
Over the past 10 years, Eastern Africa has seen increased access to the Internet (from less than 5% to around 40 % of the population connected to the Internet). This has enhanced access to information, in turn contributing to calls for government accountability from ordinary citizens through various campaigns both online and offline. Broadband; accessible, largely via mobile, has been an enabler to providing a key communication space through which individuals can articulate ideas and express opinions in the public domain, thereby contributing to building a democratic culture.
However, during the same period three elements have contributed to declining freedom of expression and information online for citizens in the regions:
- Many citizens, organizations, media outlets and journalists are increasingly targeted through DDoS and hacking attempts;
- Lack of a stable and reliable Internet connection continues to be a major challenge in most countries in the region, a problem that contributes to slow growth and inhibits the transition to the knowledge economy.
- Lack of enabling environment for enhanced internet access and a spike in Internet shutdowns in the region.
ARTICLE 19 in partnership with The South Sudan Internet Governance Forum (SS-IGF) seeks to convene a digital rights workshop with 30 participants between the 25th – 27th of March 2019 with the following objectives: –
- Empower civil society to be able to effectively contribute to the legislative discussion on Internet usages, regulation and technical standards with the aim of enhancing fair competition and promote consumer rights.
- To facilitate discussions between the communications regulator and community networks/ telco providers, researchers, human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers in South Sudan in order to encourage greater Internet penetration in rural areas;
- To discuss the deployment of Universal Service Funds in South Sudan and ascertain the effectiveness of the fund in enhancing accessibility and affordability of Internet and other ICTs and make recommendations for policy reforms through a meeting with the regulator and community networks.
- To discuss the transparency and internal self-regulatory mechanisms of five (5) select telecommunications operating in the region.
- To discuss strategies and a way forward to collectively improve the space for digital rights in South Sudan including avenues for dialogue with the government and awareness creation among other sectors.
Key outputs will include:
- Enhanced Multi-stakeholders understanding of Internet Governance
- research findings on the deployment of Universal Service Funds and recommendations for policy reforms
- Five (5) telecommunication operators will share more information about their policies affecting freedom of expression online and offline and receive suggestions for improvement
- Participants sensitized on the nexus of data protection and freedom of expression/ right to information.
- Raising awareness about pressing digital rights issues and rights in South Sudan;
About the convenors :
South Sudan Internet Governance Forum (SS-IGF)
The South Sudan Internet Governance Forum is a multi-stakeholder forum for public policy dialogue on issues of Internet Governance in South Sudan. It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate (government,private sector, civil society, technical community, and the academic community) on an equal basis and through an open and inclusive process.
The SS-IGF identifies existing and emerging internet-related public policy issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant authorities and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations to the relevant authorities.
The SS-IGF is part of the hierarchy of Internet Governance Forums (IGF) where at an International level there is the global IGF that was established by the United Nations in July 2006. At a continental level there is the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF), and at a regional level the SSIGF falls under the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF).
Article 19 monitors threats to free expression around the globe; lobbies governments to adopt laws that conform to international standards of freedom of expression; and drafts legal standards that strengthen media, public broadcasting, free expression, and access to government-held information. The Law Programme also produces legal analysis and critiques of national laws, including media laws. In addition, Article 19 intervenes in cases of individuals or groups whose rights have been violated; and provides capacity-building support to non-governmental organizations, judges and lawyers, journalists, media owners, media lawyers, public officials and parliamentarians.