RISKS AND POSSIBILITIES IN DIGITAL ACTIVISM 2019

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Bloggers of Zambia is currently implementing a project in titled re opening the space in conjunction with global reporting Sweden with financial support from the Swedish institute creative force. The project aims to mobilise human rights defenders, bloggers, journalists and activists around digital security matters and risks in digital activism.

During the period under review, Bloggers of Zambia conducted a workshop for different stakeholders whose work is centred around digital security matters and risks in digital activism. The workshop was conducted in the light of sharing ideas around matters of digital security and risks in digital activism, share experiences and strategies on how to best operate in the digital world. The workshop covered the following:

  • Where are we now and what can we do to defend the freedom of expression and minimize risks involved.  
  • Risks and opportunities, Challenges for activism in a global perspective.
  • Digital safety, Encryption, anonymous browsing, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) etc. Examples from a global experience.
  • Stakeholder analyses analyzing risks for bloggers of Zambia.
  • How to avert risks defending freedom of expression

2.0 OBJECTIVE OF THE WORKSHOP

The main objective of the workshop was to share experiences on digital security matters and risks in digital activism.

3.0 PRESENTATIONS OF THE WORKSHOPS

Below are brief descriptions of what was covered in the presentations during the workshop:

3.1 Where are we now and what can we do to defend the freedom of expression and minimize risks involved 

The aim of this session was to highlight the situation analysis on where Zambia is as at now when it comes to issues of freedom of expression and the risks involved. This presentation took the form of video sharing’s by the facilitators on the global perspective on freedom of expression in respect to Africa. Some of the countries that where looked at where Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya in respect to freedom of expression and the different situations that caught the attention of the world in regards to the risks of freedom of expression in the respective countries. Important to note in this presentation was the privilege that Zambia enjoys in the freedom of expression though the space is shrinking at a faster rate which is evident in the increasing arrest of citizens as a result of this.

It was also good to note that there has the application of double standards in the application of the law when it comes to matters regarding freedom of expression .it was further discussed that despite the party in power proclaiming that the freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed government has frequently restricted this right in practice .It was discussed that this was evident in the number of people arrested and press companies closed and threatened with closure.Threfore it was discussed that there is need to advocate for laws that guarantee freedom of expression for citizens and the media at large as guaranteed by the constitution which is the supreme law of the country

3.2 Risks and opportunities, Challenges for activism in a global perspective. 

This session mainly covered the risks, opportunities and challenges for media activism in the global perspective. It was discussed that the access to information had taken a new twist in the global world due to new trends that have emerged there by presenting new risks that threaten both providers and seekers of data. Some of the risks discussed where issues of fake news, hacking of personal accounts, information control, filtering of web content to limit access to information, increased surveillance by the state on freedom of expression through the use of virus meant to wipe away data limiting access to information, physical repression such as arrest of journalists and citizens who express their views on different matters. Some of the opportunities that where identified and discussed included coming up with an advocacy strategy to push for policy and laws that allow the free operation of the media and freedom of expression guarantee to all citizens as well as the fair application of the law on media freedoms.

3.3 Digital safety, Encryption, anonymous browsing, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) etc. Examples from a global experience.

This part of the presentation was centered on practical experiences on different mechanisms that guarantee digital safety. This because of the many threats that have emerged as a result of an e evolving digital world which has threatened access to information and freedom of expression using online platforms like social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, twitter). Some of the ways that where discussed that are known to protect data where; Encryption, anonymous browsing, Virtual Private Networks and end line inscription where given as ways that can be used for digital safety while one is using different digital platforms.

3.4 Stakeholder analyses – analyzing risks for bloggers of Zambia.

Participants were put in groups to do a stakeholder analysis in regards to digital activism. Participants mapped out the different stakeholders that impact dital activism in regards to their influence and power they have in shaping and guaranting digital freedoms. Example of such stakeholders that have power and influence include the government ministries, members of parliament, the legislature. Influence and no power, Media and the church. No power no influence, Rural population.

3.5 How to avert risks defending freedom of expression.

This part of the presentation looked at some of the risks in defending freedom of expression. Despite freedom of expression being guaranteed in the constitution there is lack of fair application of the law hence citizens have been found wanting as a result of freely expressing their opinions on issues affecting them. Some of the suggestion given as means of defending freedom of expression included the proper application of the law in guaranting freedom of expression and the drafting of policy that addresses the gaps that have been noted over the years in regards to freedom of expression and sensitizing the masses in order to raise awareness on how to defend their right to freedom of expression

4.0 KEY RESULTS OF THE ACTIVITY.

  • The workshops provided an educational and learning platform to share experienced on how best to champion the rights to freedom of expression and digital rights.
  • The workshop provided an opportunity to create synages among the participants in regards to their work around media freedoms, freedom of expression and digital activism
  • Key information was shared on how best freedom of expression can be achieved through advocating for laws and policies that promote freedom of expression in the real sense
  • Participants collectively shared ideas and strategies of how they would enhance and promote digital security and make sure there is data security

5.0 LESSONS LEARNT

It was highlighted by the stakeholders that with increased holistic awareness among citizen on the use of digital media, the risks involved, the opportunities and challenges. Citizens will be able to make informed decisions when trying to access information and protect themselves from the potential risks that hinder access to information.

6.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

  • There is need to for continued and increased networking amongst digital activists if there is to be freedom of expression.
  • It was also recommended that there is need to come up with deliberate programmes to sensitize the mases on dital security and safety

7.0 CHALLENGES

No challenges where experienced during the implementation of the activity

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