Today, Global Partners Digital (GPD), ARTICLE 19, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), PROTEGE QV and the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, jointly launched an interactive map to track and analyze disinformation laws, policies, and patterns of enforcement across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The map offers a birds-eye view of trends in state responses to disinformation across the region, as well as in-depth analysis of the state of play in individual countries, using a bespoke framework to assess whether laws, policies and other state responses are human rights-respecting.
Developed against a backdrop of rapidly accelerating state action on COVID-19 related disinformation, the map is an open, iterative product. At the time of launch, it covers 31 countries (see below for the full list), with an aim to expand this in the coming months. All data, analysis, and insight on the map has been generated by groups and actors based in Africa.
List of countries currently covered by the map:
Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Commenting on the launch
“Disinformation constitutes a major threat to the freedom of expression and the right to access information and it is geared to mislead the population and influence their opinions and views. The fight against disinformation requires a multifaceted approach ranging from education, awareness raising, proactive disclosure of public interest information, fact checking; independent regulation and effective self-regulation by legacy media and social media platforms among others. With the COVID19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that collective efforts are made to curb the impact of disinformation on public health and the rights of the public to know. ”
“National legislation and policies aimed at countering and responding to disinformation should always strike the right balance between the need to protect people against this practice and the respect of human rights especially freedom of expression. Such measures should not be used to interfere or block divergent opinions and dissident voices. We are pleased to have been part of this joint initiative that has enabled us to work together with sister organizations in and outside the continent to publish this disinformation tracker. This tracker is a start-up that will usher in more in-depth work analyzing laws and policies around the disinformation phenomenon in the region, engaging media and civil society in analysis-based advocacy geared towards governments and intermediaries to protect human rights — particularly freedom of expression — in their disinformation response, to ensure any restriction and penalty are always justifiable, proportionate and compliant with international standards. ” - Article 19
“Disinformation is a global phenomenon whose effects are felt across the political, economic and social spectrum. Efforts being undertaken to counter the scourge of disinformation should respect human rights, especially freedom of expression. In addition, a sustained approach is required and should involve different stakeholders employing legal and other internationally set standards. The tracker is an attempt to showcase the nature of state regulation of disinformation in sub-saharan Africa and provides a basis for tackling this scourge. ” - The Center for Human Rights
“Speculation, false and misleading information circulating online is a challenge, not only in Africa but across the world. Legislative means against misinformation often undermine free speech and media. The tracker is a great resource for activists, to drive evidence based advocacy, policy engagement and litigation. ” - CIPESA
“Governments around the world have been grappling with how to respond to disinformation — a challenge given new urgency by the COVID-19 crisis. However, many of their responses pose real risks for freedom of expression. We hope that this tracker will support groups in the Africa region working to promote approaches to the disinformation challenge that protect fundamental human rights. ” - GPD
“It is the responsibility of states to protect the security of their citizens, in the online space just as in the offline. Among threats to security online, disinformation has particular prominence, and can carry severe consequences. In seeking to tackle it, governments should balance the need to maintain security by promoting accurate information to citizens with the attendant risk of suppressing legitimate forms of expression. This tracker will serve as a key resource for groups working to ensure citizens have access to timely and accurate information. ” - QV PROTECT
Today, Global Partners Digital (GPD), ARTICLE 19, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), PROTEGE QV and the Center for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria have jointly launched a interactive map to track and analyze laws, policies and practices on disinformation across sub-Saharan Africa.
The map provides an overview of trends in actions taken by states to address disinformation in the region, as well as an in-depth analysis of the situation in each country, using a tailor-made canvas to assess whether laws, policies and other measures taken by states conform to international standards.
Developed in a context marked by rapid growth in State action in the face of disinformation linked to COVID-19, the card is an open and dynamic product. At the time of its launch, it covers 30 countries (see below for the full list), with the aim of strengthening this coverage in the coming months. All the data, analyzes and information on the map were provided by groups and actors established in Africa.
About the launch,
Misinformation poses a serious threat to freedom of expression and the right of access to information, and it aims to mislead the public and to influence their opinions and perceptions. Combating disinformation requires a multi-dimensional approach that includes, among other things, education, awareness, proactive disclosure of public interest information, fact-checking, independent regulation and effective self-regulation by mainstream media and social media platforms. With the COVID19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that collective efforts be deployed to limit the impact of disinformation on public health and the public's right to information.
National legislation and policies aimed at countering and responding to disinformation should always strike the right balance between the need to protect people from this practice and respect for human rights, in particular freedom of expression. These measures should not be used to hinder or hinder differing opinions and voices.
We are delighted to have participated in this joint initiative which has enabled us to work with sister organizations on and off the continent to publish this disinformation tracker.
This “tracker” is an approach that will allow us to deepen the analysis of laws and policies relating to the phenomenon of disinformation in the region, by engaging the media and civil society in an advocacy based on analysis and intended for governments and intermediaries to protect human rights, in particular freedom of expression, in their response to disinformation in order to ensure that any restrictions and sanctions are always justifiable, proportionate and in line with international standards. - ARTICLE 19
Misinformation is a global phenomenon, the harmful effects of which are felt across the political, economic and social spectrum. Efforts to counter it must respect human rights, in particular freedom of expression, and involve different stakeholders, using legal and other internationally established standards. The tracker provides an in-depth analysis of the current actions of States in the area of disinformation in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an overview of how they could better respond to them. - CHR
"Speculation, false and misleading information circulating online is a challenge, not only in Africa but worldwide. Legislative means against disinformation often undermine freedom of expression and of the media. The" tracker "is a great resource for activists, for evidence-based advocacy, for political engagement and for legal action - CIPESA
Governments around the world have faced the question of how to deal with disinformation - a challenge made even more urgent by the COVID-19 crisis. However, many of their responses pose real risks to freedom of expression. We hope this “tracker” will support groups in the Africa region who are working to promote solutions to the challenge of disinformation that protect fundamental human rights. '' GPD
It is the responsibility of States to preserve the security of citizens both in physical and virtual space. Among the attacks on security in a virtual environment, false information occupies a special place and can have disastrous consequences. Every government should find the right balance between preserving security by disseminating the right information to citizens and the risk of blocking fair and useful information, often for unspeakable reasons. This tool will provide material for groups interested in advocacy to allow the timely provision of good information to citizens. - QV PROTECT
List of countries currently covered by the map:
South Africa, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.