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Today, Global Partners Digital (GPD), the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (CHR), Article 19 West Africa, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and PROTEGE QV  jointly launch LEXOTA—Laws on Expression Online: Tracker and Analysis, a new interactive tool to help human rights defenders track and analyse government responses to online disinformation across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Expanding on work started in 2020, LEXOTA offers a comprehensive overview of laws, policies and other government actions on disinformation in every country in Sub-Saharan Africa. The tool is powered by multilingual data and context-sensitive insight from civil society organisations and uses a detailed framework to assess whether government responses to disinformation are human rights-respecting. A dynamic comparison feature empowers users to examine the regulatory approaches of different countries and to compare how different policy responses measure up against human rights standards, providing them with insights into trends across the region as well as the option to examine country-specific analyses.

In recent years, governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have increasingly responded to disinformation through content-based restrictions and regulations, which often pose significant risks to individuals’ right to freedom of expression. LEXOTA was developed to support those working to defend internet freedom and freedom of expression across the region, by making data on these government actions accessible and comparable.

As an open, iterative product, LEXOTA will be regularly verified, updated and enriched with new data sources and features over time. We welcome feedback and input from all stakeholders; please contact info@gp-digital.org to get in touch.

CHR states: “The fast-paced nature of communication in the digital age has amplified the threat of disinformation on democracy necessitating action by stakeholders such as governments and civil society. The adoption of laws, policies and actions by governments in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is one such countermeasure. This however comes with concomitant concerns about the implications of these laws, policies and actions on freedom of expression. With SSA holding a concerning record with regards to the respect of civil liberties, the scrutiny of these measures is necessary to ensure they are in line with international human rights laws and standards. LEXOTA is a useful tracking tool for human rights defenders seeking to make such an analysis of their country and/or region. We hope it provides a platform for further advocacy to align these countermeasures with international human rights normative standards.”