Africa lags behind in keeping tabs on netizens

November 15, 2012

The latest 2012 figures also show an increase in the average number of users or accounts per request in transparency report statistics. The transparency report also sheds light on requests by governments for Google to remove content from its services. US followed by India leads in accessing their citizens data. The report lists out requests it received from governments across the world to access information on the users of its various services.Globally, there were 20,938 requests for user data during the January-June period. The data can include your complete Gmail account, chat logs, Orkut profile and search terms among others.Although Africa is a large continent with a significant number of Internet users, this data is nonetheless an indicator of low surveillance in the region compared to other regions.Most African countries lacks a general privacy law that helps set guidelines for such user requests, despite privacy being a constitutional right as part of the right to life.To make it even worse, the report shows clearly that African countries rarely send requests to take down content which they deem defamatory and against their security interests.

Another observation from the report is that the number of court orders in sub Saharan countries for taking down web content has remained almost non existent over the years despite a rise in the number of requests police an companies executives especially in East and Southern Africa. African governments also rarely clarify the reason for which they want access to someone account and most paranoid state thugs just want access and what they do with the information they get is not known to Africans or relevant bodies.In one incident earlier this year, falsified court orders were used to seek removal of content about a political blog about an African country led by a dictator. When the court orders were sent to Google demanding the removal of blog posts and entire blogs for alleged defamation, they were found to be fake and the people behind the scheme remain at large because they are “state thugs” and that means they are untouchable.

Contador Harrison