Author Archives: Njathika

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Simply cannot fit in a box

Brookings Institute Memo to the US President – Big Bets and Black Swans: Securing the Future of the Internet by Peter Singer & Ian Wallace

At the beginning of every year the Brooking institution releases the Big Bets and Black Swans – a memo addressed to the US president with policy insights and actionable recommendations on challenges lying ahead. Of interest to me is that this year’s memo among other things addresses the internet.

Peter Singer and Ian Wallace memo to the president looks at how the Barack Obama administration can secure the future of the internet as we know it today. This comes against the backdrop of Edward Snowden’s jaw dropping revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency. This revelations have kick started a debate among nation states and internet stakeholders on the future of internet. One of these stakeholder meetings is set to take place in Sao Paulo Brazil in April 23-24, 2014. This stakeholder meeting is an ICANN organised meet with the support of Brazilian government which had big fallout with Obama administration over NSA spying concerns of President Dilma Rousseff.

One of the main agenda of the ICANN Brazil Gig is to come up with principles of ‘internet governance’. Peter Singer and Ian Wallace in their memo to the president rightfully point out that once Edward Snowden raised the demining report of NSA activities Washington has taken a back seat on matters of protecting the internet since they do not have the moral authority to pontificate on such matters given what NSA has been doing. However, the two authors seek to have the president raise the priority of internet policy and strategy. In so doing the United States would play a pivotal role in the raging debate on ‘internet governance’.


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Filed under Cybersecurity

Lions Go Digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa – A Report by McKinsey Global Institute

African major cities embracing the internet. Source: Mckinsey Report

African major cities embracing the internet. Source: Mckinsey Report

McKinsey Global Institute published a report in November 2013 that highlights Africa’s internet opportunity. This report offers some great insights into Africa’s changing economic landscape and how the internet is contributing to the growth of African economies. In this report the authors introduce iGDP a measurement of the Internet’s contribution to overall GDP.
The Internet’s contribution to Africa’s overall GDP. Source: Mckinsey Report

The Internet’s contribution to Africa’s overall GDP. Source: Mckinsey Report

According to this report Africa’s iGDP is 1.1 percent which is half of what other emerging economies register while Internet penetration hovers at 16 percent across the continent as a whole. The report goes further to look at internet penetration in rural and urban areas.

Other Notable Statistics found in this Report on internet in Africa today
Africa has;
-16% internet penetration
-167 Million internet users
-67 Million Smartphones
-Over 50% of Urban residents are online
-51.6 Million Facebook Users and
-$ 18 Billion internet contribution to GDP

The report is highly recommended because it provides statistics which can be used in the cyber-security debate plus it highlights the opportunity of internet connectivity.

Download the executive summary and the full report here;

Source: Mckinsey website

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Filed under Africa, Documents

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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Filed under African Union, Cybersecurity, In the News

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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Filed under African Union, Cybersecurity, In the News

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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Filed under Petition, Reviews

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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Filed under African Union, Cybersecurity, In the News