Right to Privacy Should Extend to The Internet

Google Africa Manager for Policy and Government Relations, Fortune Sibanda has implored African governments to respect people’s right to privacy even on the internet.

During his keynote address at the commemorations of the international human rights day, Sibanda urged state parties to uphold people’s right to privacy and extend it to encompass the internet.

“Users deserve to know when and how the government request information about them online and we will keep fighting to make sure that’s the case,” he said.

He added that African governments have serious problems with criticism of authorities and continue to censor such information with the exception of South Africa adding that Zimbabwe censors information to do with corruption.

“There is a rise in countries that are seeking to remove information for many reasons including hate speech and adult content with the past four years seeing 120 percent increase in the requests,” added Sibanda.

Zimbabwe remains one of the few African countries concerned with citizen activity online and is currently in the process of enacting a cyber terrorism bill meant to criminalize people who criticize or are deemed as inciting rebellion against the government. The government of Zimbabwe previously tried to also institute the interception of communications bill with the aim to intercept citizen communication.

Ironically South Africa has been singled out as the only African country that does not censor information that is critical of authorities and according to Google Africa, the internet economy is now equivalent of 2 percent of its gross domestic product which is 60 billion Rands.

“While is the traditional GDP sectors like mining, agriculture, manufacturing are dropping 16 percent year on year, digital economy but the internet is growing faster than that,” said Sibanda

The commemorations were organised by HIVOS and Royal Dutch Embassy.