More than two dozen global civil society organizations, most of which are based in Africa, unveiled the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this month. The declaration’s main purpose is to create a widely endorsed standard within a human rights framework for internet-related policy making decisions in Africa. This monumental declaration will help contribute to the future development of a crowdsourced “Magna Carta” for the Internet, an initiative headed by the Web We Want initiative and supported by PK.
Based on a number of international and regional information and communications technologies (ICTs) and human rights principles, including the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration of 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, this declaration addresses the modern-day intersection of human rights and internet policy. In defining the importance of a democratic and open internet, the declaration specifically endorses the principle of net neutrality based on non-discriminatory practices:
“In accordance with the principle of net neutrality, all data on the internet should be treated in an equal and non-discriminatory manner, and shall not be charged differentially, according to user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.”
This declaration also takes aim at a host of issues also raised here in the United States related to intermediary liability, internet affordability and increasing access to openly licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Viewed in a more traditional human rights lens, the declaration warns against unlawful filtering, blocking and limiting access to content as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and to information.
PK commends the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms and its drafters for creating a comprehensive document that addresses local internet issues in Africa while also promoting a global free and open internet. One of the members of the drafter’s group, Nnenna Nwakanma, is a steering committee member of Best Bits – a global civil society platform that PK members actively participate in. In 2015, Nwakanma and other drafters will submit this declaration to the African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Communications and Information Technologies (CITMC), the leading regional political body in charge of policy issues related to ICTs in Africa.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Eric Gaba