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