Monthly Archives: December 2013

Global Government Surveillance Reform: An Open Letter by Eight big IT companies

Below is an open letter to US President and Members of Congress by eight big IT companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo) under the auspices of Reform Government Surveillance group. The are asking for less state surveillance on personal data.

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit


AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

The Principles guiding this Group

1. Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
Governments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.

2. Oversight and Accountability
Intelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.

3. Transparency About Government Demands
Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information.
In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information
The ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.

5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments
In order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty — or “MLAT” — processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.


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Filed under Cybersecurity, Documents, Petition

In the News: Private sector wary of the Africa cyber security Draft Convention – Human IPO

The African Union Draft Convention on Cyber Security (AUCC) is to be tabled for signing on in January 2014, but after reading the fine print stakeholders in the ICT industry are already voicing their displeasure at some of the submissions that could be passed.

Rene Eno-Akpa a policy research fellow at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), maintains however that the submissions contain loopholes that will, among other things, infringe on people’s civil liberties and as such cannot be made into law in their current form.- Humanipo, October 29 2013

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In the News: Africans Online Freedom under threat –

On the surface the draft convention looks very well-intended but wait until you read some articles in the convention. As espoused by Dennis Mbuvi on his blog post “African Countries propose stringent rules governing e-commerce and data” –

November 1, 2013

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Review of the African Union draft Cybersecurity Convention by iHub & Way Forwards

The iHub Umati Project penned down this review of the AU draft cyber-security convention.
In there, they have laid down what one can do, namely signing our petition, writing to legislatures and sharing information about the convention with as many people as possible.

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In the News: CIPIT challenges AU cyber security adoption – CAJ News

The Strathmore Law School-based institution said the ratification would subsequently threaten the growth and survival of the online business community.

CIPIT challenges AU cyber security adoption – CAJ News, November 13 2013

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In the News: Nigerian government seeks to monitor and control cyberspace with new law

There is growing awareness in African countries on the issue of CybderSecurity. This is reflected on the number of bills out there due for passage in National Parliaments. Human IPO run a story on Nigeria a while back which has a Cyber Crime Bill 2013 up for passage in their legislature.

Read the full article here

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Filed under African Union, Cybersecurity, In the News