Safeguarding Free Speech Online in an Electoral Context

It is an election period in Kenya. A season of loud hope that your
favourite politician will win and the quiet fear of electoral
violence. This fear is due to our unhealed scars from the 2007
post-election violence. Other than the fact that the results of that
election were contested, the violence has been blamed on hate speech
by politicians. This is the primary reason why our constitution,
expressly prohibits hate speech in Article 33(2) of the constitution.

Ten years later, with internet penetration at over 50% and widespread
membership to social media sites, there is fear that hate will be
propagated on online forums. To ensure that we do not get a repeat of
inter-ethnic electoral violence like in the year 2007/2008, concerned
bodies have suggested ways to counter possible hate speech online.
Some in government quarters have suggested internet shutdowns to
counter this. Others have called for responsibility online.

In the upcoming Kenya Internet Governance Forum that will take place
on the 6th July 2017 at Laico Regency, various thought leaders in the
internet governance space will discuss how we can ensure freedom of
expression online during this election period.

Article By Francis Monyango

Kenya Internet Governance Forum turns 10

According to Alice Munyua former Chair of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum and Convener of the Kenya ICT Action Network , the Internet Governance Forum  has the most impact at national level (Kenya IGF Report, 12 August 2016).

The forum has promoted the use of the multistakeholder model in public policy development across different sectors namely government, civil society, academia, private sector and the technical community. Stakeholders of varied backgrounds who have participated in the annual forum for the last ten years have gone ahead and implemented the model in their respective sectors. In the year 2010 and as a result of increased use of the model across different sectors of the Kenyan economy, multistakeholderism was embedded in the Kenyan constitution thus becoming a mandatory process in public policy development processes.  Key sectors that have benefited from the multistakeholder model include information and communications technology through development of the Kenya ICT policy 2006 and 2016, health sector through  development of  the Kenya Health Policy 2014 – 2030, the private sector which created their own association the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Internet Community which created the Kenya Network Information Centre the country code top level domain registry for Kenya.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum  has over the years brought together various actors who had previously been operating in silos rendering them ineffective. Using the multi stakeholder model, the forum has brought together actors from various stakeholder groupings such as government thereby  building their capacity on electronic government, private sector (electronic business), academia (electronic learning) Civil Society (online activism), media (online reporting) and the technical community (electronic collaboration). Collaborative efforts that emanated from multi stakeholder processes resulted in projects such as The East African Marine System (TEAMS) a submarine cable built through local  public and  private sector partnerships which  lowered the cost of the Internet in Kenya considerably thus opening up a new world of innovation and electronic commerce in the country.

Another positive outcome of the multi stakeholder framework of collaboration championed by the Kenya Internet Governance Forum was the launch and eventual commissioning of the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI) which connected all administrative centre’s in the country. The National Optic Fibre Backbone enabled countrywide roll out of electronic government services such as the Integrated Financial Management System IFMIS which is used to manage the government payroll and procurement process and Kenya Revenue Authorities i-tax systems that significantly improved management and stewardship of the country’s financial resources by promoting accountability and effective collection of taxes.

By Barrack Otieno

The writer is an Associate of the Kenya ICT Action Network and a member of the Local Multi Stakeholder Advisory Group

0815 – 0930

Youth IGF: Welcome note,

Roselyn Olumbe- Daystar University,

Lillian Kariuki, Executive Director, Watoto Watch Network,

Introduction to Youth IGF- Grace Githaiga KICTANet,

Remarks by guests,

Kenic ( .Ke),

Facebook,

Safaricom*,

Law Society of Kenya,

Ministry of ICT,

Opening of the forum,

Communications Authority of Kenya-Vincent Ngundi Assistant Director,

Cyber Security and E-commerce