Watchdog organisation Freedom House last month released its 2012 report Freedom on the Net and its report is more alarming for its dearth of data on African countries than for its actual rankings. This after the United Nations Human Rights Council declared internet freedom a fundamental human right in July this year.
In its third edition of Freedom on the Net Freedom House rated only a sixth of African countries with their rankings for internet freedom: ‘Free’; ‘Partly Free’; ‘Not Free’ and the equally ominous ‘No Data’.
Freedom House’s “Freedom on the Net” index was developed in 2011 to measure a country’s internet and digital media freedom, and claims to include not only internet access but also information transmission via mobile phones and text messaging services. Internet freedom has become increasingly crucial in recent years, as state repression of internet services and the arrest and harassment of dissenting internet voices grows in number internationally. In July this year, and in response to the growing importance of internet access as a tool for freedom of expression and information, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution supporting freedom of expression on the internet. The resolution affirms “that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice”. The resolution further calls on States to “promote and facilitate access to the Internet”.
Read the rest of this piece at Fesmedia Africa.