My #KeSIG2021 Experience – A Cheat Sheet for Future Students

Cherie Oyier

By Cherie Oyier.

Earlier this year 2021, I read a book by Austin Kleon titled, “Show Your Work.” It is a tiny book that I think everyone should read. Anyway, this book’s main objective is to encourage more people to show the behind-the-scenes or backend processes that go into achieving final results. Austin claims that showing the backend processes not only gives the creator an opportunity to see and appreciate their progress, it also inspires others of the possibility of success and opens the floor for feedback and ideas on how to improve the process for future creators. It is on this basis that I am inspired to write about my experience as a Kenya School of Internet Governance (#KeSIG2021) cohort. 

I trace my experience back to when the call for applications was made. The call for applications is made annually via the KeSIG website and then it makes its way into various social media platforms through re-sharing. I, for instance, saw the call in one of the WhatsApp groups I am a member of. This, therefore, goes to show that it is important to join communities or groups of like-minded people where you are likely to see such updates. However, if you are yet to meet such people, worry not, you can always check the KeSIG website or better yet follow them on their different social media pages to stay updated. The application form comes as a Google form that is easy to navigate and fill. The questions on the form require that you demonstrate why you want to take up the course, what plans or contributions you intend to make in the Internet Governance space post the course among other details. I strongly recommend that applicants provide well-thought, honest and contextual answers. The application and admission process is very competitive thus you want your application to stands out and to give recruiters as much context as to why you deserve a slot, therefore generic answers will not favor you. 

Successful applicants will receive an onboarding email that also includes the course program. It is imperative that you regularly check your email for this. As this cohort was held online due to the pandemic, the introductory class was done before the e-learning portal was open for access by students. In this introductory class, the faculty got to introduce themselves, train us on how to navigate the e-learning platform, and finally give us access to the platform. The e-learning platform is easy to navigate therefore you are guaranteed to have a great user experience, or at least I did.

Once admitted, we were able to start our self-paced learning for a week. During this period, we got access to six lessons including external links to further resources and material, graded forum discussions, and assignments after each lesson. For me, one of the best parts of this cohort was the creation of a WhatsApp group at the onset. Membership of the group included students and the faculty and this created a space to seek support and an opportunity for horizontal exchange of experiences, views, and observations freely. When the course got more technical as we made progress, this group came in handy with participants discussing their challenges and offering valuable guidance. Interaction within the group was a good icebreaker to creating new networks especially since the essence of the cohort is to create new communities to lend their voices in the Internet Governance space. The fact that the cohort accommodates participants from different disciplines, means that members offer diverse perspectives during discussions that build on the quality of discussions.  The group also acts as a constant accountability partner. Many are the times members checked in to find out if all members had submitted assignments and most nights there was someone counting down to the submission deadline. 

The KeSIG and KICTANet faculty provided valuable support through the group as well. I like to think of the faculty members as open and transparent like the internet – all pun intended! Faculty members were more like peers and very approachable. They answered our sometimes very amateur questions without reservation, challenged and pushed our intellectual limits, and most importantly they were very open to learning from us. 

After each lesson, students are to complete a graded forum discussion and assignments. These forums seek opinions on the topic covered. My recommendation to future students, therefore, is to read the resources provided for each lesson and go the extra mile of finding more resources on the Internet in order to engage better. Since the time for submission of the assignments is limited, ensure to actively set aside time each day to complete your reading and assignments on time. Further, please actively participate in the forum discussions as these discussions add value to the overall Internet Governance space.

In the second week, students are required to attend live online sessions for three days. During this time, the faculty invites industry players to share their thoughts and experiences on different issues. The sessions are open to participants to engage with the industry leaders through questions, feedback, and opinions. Active participation is key as it enables you to grasp concepts better and seek clarity on current issues happening in a particular industry. 

The final quiz is made accessible to students on the third day of the final week. This quiz is a consolidation of questions that cut across all six lessons. The quiz is timed so you might sweat a little but it is totally doable if you study and attend live sessions. The results of the quiz are generated in real-time and are accessible on the platform, students are also able to track their grades, and progress through the platform as they progress. 

The last day of KeSIG always coincides with the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KeIGF) day. Students get to attend the forum and interact with more industry players for the entire day. Upon completion of the course, students are issued with shareable certificates and they can go on to engage and contribute in discussions that shape Internet Governance.

The Internet is an integral part of our day-to-day lives, it is an enabler of our fundamental rights and freedoms and thus we each have a responsibility to engage in conversations that shape and develop it at any level. Our voices mold the Internet into what we want it to be and this is why KeSIG is intent on introducing more diverse voices in Internet Governance discourses through this course. Therefore, any aspiring student should consider this as a free cheat sheet on how to join and successfully complete the KeSIG course because your voice is needed and it matters. 

I hope this highlight of the behind-the-scenes workings gives you an insight into what to expect and inspires you to join the course. I wish you the very best of luck!

Cherie Oyier is a 2021 Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG) fellow and is also an advocate of the High Court of Kenya practicing at Oyier and Company Advocates. She regularly publishes articles on issues falling at the intersection of law and technology via her LinkedIn account and is passionate about contributing to Internet Governance policy discourse.

Why Parliament must not pass the anti-pornography bill

By Winfred Gakii.

Early 2021, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale tabled a bill to criminalize pornography. The Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was gazetted on 16th April 2021 and read for the first time on 9th June 2021. The bill seeks to amend the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2020, which is currently being challenged at the Court of Appeal as unconstitutional.  In his presentation on the purpose of the bill, Duale states that the objective of the bill is to protect children from exposure to inappropriate sexual content. 

The Departmental Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation received two memoranda from the public participation call; one joint memorandum from civil societies, including ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa and another one from the Communications Authority of Kenya. Both memoranda warned that the bill violates freedom of expression and by and large recommended deletion of the anti-pornography clauses and those that criminalize content that might cause people to commit suicide or join extreme religious or cult activities. The Committee on 4th August 2021 recommended the Bill for tabling in Parliament with only slight textual amendments, and recommendation for deletion of the anti-terrorism clause. This clause criminalizes the publication of electronic messages aimed at recruiting members of the public to terrorist activities and imposes a fine of up to twenty million and an imprisonment term of up to 25 years. A similar offence under Section 30A of the Prevention of Terrorism Act imposes a maximum imprisonment term of 14 years. The offence is improperly canvassed under the bill since it is already an offence in Kenya elsewhere. The clause also risks exposing individuals to excessive criminal liability since, with the same facts, one could be charged under both laws. The bill is currently ripe for second reading. 

The bill

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Bill, 2021 introduces, among others, the offences of production, possession and publication of pornography through a computer system. It further criminalizes downloading, distributing, transmitting, disseminating, circulating, delivering, exhibiting, lending for gain, exchanging, barter, selling or offering for sale, letting on hire or offering to let on hire, offering in any way, or making available in any way from a telecommunications apparatus pornography. 

The bill also mandates the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee to recommend some websites to be rendered inaccessible within the Republic of Kenya. It further prohibits the use of electronic media to promote terrorism, extreme religious or cult activities. 

The vague definition of pornography

Every offence must be clearly defined to delineate prohibited conduct from benign actions. Additionally, the offence must be defined precisely to guide the courts in determining criminal cases before them; and the police in enforcing the law. Even more importantly, the clarity enables the public to regulate their conduct accordingly. Finally, a concise definition of offences ensures that legitimate conduct is not curtailed, especially when it comes to legitimate speech. 

Pornography is defined in the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Bill to include any data, whether visual or audio, that depicts persons engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This definition is open to interpretation and police will have discretion on who to arrest and charge based on their individual interpretation of what constitutes ‘sexually explicit conduct. The phrase ‘sexually explicit’ is so subjective that it will lead to inconsistent application of the provision. The overbroad nature of its definition will open it up for abuse. 

Even more alarming is the clause that mandates the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee to recommend websites to be rendered inaccessible. The Committee comprises mostly representatives from the security sector including internal security, Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, National Intelligence Service and Director of Public Prosecutions. There are no criteria established for determining what websites should be blocked. Related, there is the likelihood of recommending blockage of websites with legitimate content. This proposed procedure contravenes international law as content moderation practices by the government have to incorporate judicial oversight as a check. Removal of websites will interfere with the free flow of information online violating the right to freedom of expression and access to information. 

Privacy concerns 

The bill criminalizes both the demand and the supply of pornography. It prohibits content that adults can view in the privacy of their homes or gadgets. It also criminalizes the private sharing of pornographic content as well as possession. The enforcement of the provisions of the bill on the demand side will invariably violate the right to privacy. This is because efficient enforcement of the law will inevitably necessitate surveillance of the public’s communications and searches of their homes. Heavy censorship and surveillance of communications renege on the democratic promise of the 2010 Constitution.

Punitive penalties 

The offences under the bill attract a penalty of up to KES 20 million or an imprisonment term of up to five years, or both. The penalty and the imprisonment term are extremely disproportionate given the conduct they seek to deter.

Limitation of freedom of expression under the Constitution 

While freedom of expression is not an absolute right, its limitation must comply with the Constitutional criteria in place. Freedom of expression can only be limited under the Constitution of Kenya when it relates to propaganda for war; incitement to violence; hate speech; or advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or is discriminatory. There is also responsibility imposed on individuals that, in exercising freedom of expression, they shall respect the rights and reputation of others. Any limitation must be provided for in law, serve a legitimate aim and be necessary and proportional in a democratic state. 

What is the legitimate aim of prohibiting pornography? International law recognizes the protection of children as a legitimate ground for prohibiting pornography. The Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe, otherwise known as the Budapest Convention, encourages states to criminalize the production, possession and distribution of child pornography. The African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection, which has not come into force yet, also only obligates states to criminalize child pornography. Child pornography is already criminalized under Section 24 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 and is punishable by a penalty of up to KES 20 million, and an imprisonment term of 25 years or both. Protection of children is therefore sufficiently addressed in the Act. 

It is worth noting that the Uganda Constitutional Court on 13th August 2021 declared the anti-pornography provisions of the Anti-Pornography Act, 2014 unconstitutional. Besides the vague definition of pornography, the court stated that the Act did not elicit the legislative objective for the criminalization of pornography. The court noted that the provisions must be connected to the objectives they aim to achieve; a link which is clearly missing in the Kenyan Bill. There are lesser ways of restricting access to pornographic material by children that do not include a blanket ban on pornography with potentially significant and mass violation of free expression. Such include a requirement for companies to avail blocking or filtering software that requires the activating user to make an informed choice on the settings. The activating user would ideally be the parent or guardian. This form of regulation is self-imposed, and less detrimental to fundamental freedoms than government-imposed regulations.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Bill will certainly create a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Given the vague definition of pornography and the harsh penalties, people will rather err on the side of caution and self-censor than face the full force of the law. Unfortunately, even those individuals producing, sharing or publishing legitimate content such as materials of scientific value, literature, learning or public interest are exposed adversely by the bill since they can only raise the defence during prosecution. This means that one can only invoke the defence long after they have been subjected to arrest and charges. As such, the bill will fundamentally stifle free speech; which is essential to a democratic state such as Kenya’s.

The up-shot? The anti-pornography bill is a frontal attack on freedom of expression and the National Assembly must not allow it to see the light of day. The MPs have the responsibility to protect the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution in their delegated power. 

Winfred Gakii is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and Programme Officer- Civic Space at ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, and a Kenya School of Internet Governance 2021 alumni.

My reflection on Kenya School of Internet Governance and working in Post Covid19 era

By Peter Mmbando, KeSIG and KeIGF Fellow 2020, from Tanzania.

As the year 2020 draws to close and we prepare to welcome the year 2021, I share my reflections on the KeSIG and KeIGF 2020 as the first virtual events hosted in Kenya that engaged Multistakeholders from East African Countries.

The events were virtual, with presentations from ICT professionals, and digital policy experts who provided rich content that changed my way of thinking for future events and work in cyberspace. I learned that due to the pandemic, the world had totally changed from analog to digital. The pandemic prompted everyone to work remotely or from home. Some organizations changed to hybrid offices where non-essential workers begin working from home or remotely in finance, ICT, agriculture, media to name a few.

Much of the contents at KeSIG reminded us to focus and not panic, to be creative, perseverance, to upgrade skills, and to accumulate constructive knowledge for the betterment of the world. The concepts covered internet design principles, introduction into internet governance, international roles of internet governance, private sector roles in internet governance, and emerging issues.
I have learned that most youths are taking digital life for granted, not paying enough time to details, to explore, read, practice digital skills, as well as upgrade their skills in cybersecurity, instead, they spend much time on social media chatting or watching unproductive information.

In addition, the KeSIG 2020 and KeIGF 2020 had touched on issues of disinformation and misinformation that had affected communities by creating fear and panic during the pandemic. Youths, especially women must be equipped with digital skills ( techno know-how) in order to understand how to respond to cyber-bullying, cyber-attacks, and cyberspace at large as well as to learn how to write positive narratives about Africa with reliable sources of information.

Furthermore, KeIGF speakers elaborated on how youth can practically learn negotiation skills not only at the national level, continental level but also at the global level in policy formulation and discussions. Negotiation skills are vital for African youths to address critical issues facing the African continent, for instance, the issues of internet connectivity, data privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity policies. Other issues are internet shutdown and throttling and mass surveillance.

Lastly, youth must understand that while most jobs and opportunities are remote and virtual, it is time to wake up and learn, upgrade skills, and fast to adapt changes in life. As we are living in a digitalized world, we depend much on the digital economy to survive or live. We should well manage time and other resources to build constructive digital workspace and engage in community activities to bring positive change at different levels.

Lack of digital skills should not be an excuse for not working remotely or trying to create opportunities in a pandemic or non-pandemic period, we have seen that the future of work is remote to hybrid, as nearly 70% of organizations believe the productivity gains of remote working are sustainable beyond the pandemic. It is time for African youths to work hard and come up with solutions to problems that are facing in the digital space.

My First Virtual School Experience at KeSIG

By Rebeccah Wambui.

The insistent message to “do something meaningful with your time” during the unprecedented, at least in our generation, the covid-19 pandemic period had taken its toll on me. So in a typical millennial style, I did nothing meaningful in protest for a while. Until I came across application invitations for the fifth cohort of Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)/ by KICTANet

I applied instantly. This was the opportunity to further my skills on internet governance and officially join the learnt a new skill during Covid19 club.

The application and acceptance process was brief and concise. School officially kicked off with the learning management system induction training, followed by intensive, three-day sessions. This included the mandatory self-paced reading of course material provided through the KICTANet e-learning platform, and zoom interactions with industry experts from CSK, Safaricom, ICANN, and KHRC. Course work evaluation was a timed one hour attempt, with a 60% pass mark.

The graduation and certificate award ceremonies have previously been held at the end of Kenya Internet Governance forums, but this year’s got a mention at the Virtual Kenya IGF webinar with trainees receiving e- certificates.

A key lesson I learned was – Multistakeholdersim is the approach to Internet Governance and generally means that a multitude of stakeholders, as opposed to governments only, can participate in and have an impact on Internet Governance processes, discussions, and Internet policy development.

I now have the skills and knowledge to engage in wider internet governance discussions as well as the responsibility to create awareness and invite other stakeholders in, as the field is perceived as an exclusive reserve for the technical community.

Rebeccah Wambui is in the gig economy of Capacity Development and Social Impact. She also hosts The Audacity Podcast ke.
@beckywambui 

Kenya IGF week 2019

The Kenya IGF week shall be held from 29th July to 1st August 2019 at the Panafric Hotel, in Nairobi.

The IGF week has a series of activities including the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG), policy briefs dissemination workshops, and culminates in the flagship Kenya Internet Governance Forum.

Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)

KeSIG has grown to be among KICTANet’s flagship programmes, and its success has not been only in bringing in new voices but also encouraging those whose work has been disrupted by the internet to understand and contribute to internet policy making processes. In its 4th edition, KeSIG deliberately targets law enforcement officers, civil society organisation officers, traditional and new media practitioners, the tech community and academics. Its aim remains to build capacity for local and global internet governance by leveraging on existing policy advocates from areas such as media, human rights, devolved government and law enforcement and adding new voices Areas to be covered in the training include: introduction and main issues in internet governance; internet governance processes and how to get involved; and Kenya’s internet governance frameworks. The faculty is sourced from local and African actors such as the regulators, the executive, civil society leaders , digital rights activists, lawyers and technical community.

KeSIG’s mission is to increase capacity of key actors and potential actors in the local internet governance space. These include traditional human rights defenders and civil society organisations, students, academia, tech community and government departments. These actors are also commissioned to participate in international internet policy making for a thereby contributing African perspectives in global debates.

Kenya IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The United Nations Secretary-General formally announced the establishment of the IGF in July 2006 and the first meeting was convened in October 2006.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; and contribute to capacity building for Internet governance. 

The event brings together stakeholders representing government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the public in an informal setting for policy dialogue on Internet governance issues on an equal basis through an open and inclusive process. This type of cooperative engagement is usually referred to as the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance, which is one of the key features for the Internet’s success. This model is paramount to ensure that the Internet remains sustainable for economic and social development.

The forums are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to the global level. The outcomes of the country level (Kenya IGF) feed into the regional level (East Africa IGF), continental level (Africa IGF) and ultimately at the global level (IGF). Previously, Kenya hosted the East Africa IGF in 2009 and thereafter, the global IGF in 2011 in Nairobi. 

This year, the 14th Annual Global IGF Meeting convened by the United Nations, will be hosted by the Government of Germany and is scheduled to take place from 25 – 29 November 2019 in Berlin.

Side events: Policy briefs dissemination workshops

Several side events will be held during the IGF week. One of them will be the policy brief on Regulation OTTs – the challenges and recommendations.

More to follow …

Call for Volunteers for the 2019 Kenya IGF MAG

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers from the different stakeholder groups to assist in the preparation of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) 2019, which will be held on Thursday, 1 August 2019. 

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. The Steering Team otherwise known as the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) role is to assist in convening the Kenya IGF by preparing the programme and schedule and to improve the IGF process through community consultations, outreach and stakeholder engagement. MAG members volunteer and serve in their personal capacity, and are expected to have established linkages with their respective stakeholder groups. Please review the MAG TOR.

To express interest, please send an email to info@kictanet.or.ke with the subject line “Kenya IGF 2019 MAG” indicating your stakeholder group, expertise and why you are interested in joining the steering committee of KIGF 2019 by Tuesday, June 25 2019. 

Membership to the steering team is voluntary and all materials produced by KICTANet are published under creative commons licenses. Organisations from various stakeholder groups are encouraged to nominate representatives.

Call for volunteers for 2019 KeSIG steering committee

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers to the steering committee of the 2019 Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG). Now in its fourth edition, KeSIG takes place prior to the Kenya IGF, with the aim of introducing beginners in internet governance to basic concepts in internet policy making. This is with the goal of creating and increasing the available expertise for participation in local and global internet governance processes. 

KeSIG is slotted for 29th to 31st July 2019. 

Please write to info@kictanet.or.ke, with the subject 2019 KeSIG steering committee if interested in collaboratively organising the school, explaining your interest. Membership to the team is on volunteer basis and we aim to have representation of diverse groups.


Find more information on KeSIG here. 
KeSIG Steering Team TORs 

Kenya School of Internet Governance

Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG) is on its fifth year in 2020. The very successful inaugural school was held in 2016 in Nairobi with 50 participants going through an intense three day training.

The school targets Kenyans from all sectors- government, academia, tech community and civil society who are new to Internet Governance issues.

KeSIG is an introductory course covering technical, economic, legal and contemporary social issues brought about by the Internet and how they affect Kenyan decision making. It aims to build critical mass of individuals advocating for Internet rights and freedoms through equipping the participants with the skills needed to participate meaningfully in local, regional and global policy discourse.