Law and Order in Africa – Policing Social Networks
European Conference on African Studies ECAS2019. Africa: Connections and Disruptions Edinburgh, June 11-14 2019
25 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 11, 2019
Liberalisation of markets and access to global technologies has helped drive the massive expansion of telecommunications, the Internet and social networks in Africa, creating new spaces to be policed. Enthusiasm for liberalisation is partly explained by the technology being bundled with a wide and increasingly sophisticated array of facilities for interception, wiretapping and shutdowns. This has allowed almost any level of surveillance from the minimal to the Orwellian. Consequently, governments have been able to extend their established practices of law and order into telecommunications, Internet access and social networks, for example, filtering keywords, blocking temporarily or permanently individual websites and services, and identifying individuals for questioning and enhanced interrogation. It is possible to monitor citizens at least as effectively as in the physical world and often less obtrusively. Much of the surveillance activity has been undertaken by intelligence services, which have access to the necessary budgets, and operate outside the, generally, limited checks and balances of constitutional courts and parliaments. In practice very few are required to observe human rights. There are almost no effective restraints on the adoption of sophisticated surveillance technologies, other than the limited availability of skills. Constitutional rights to privacy and dignity are systematically ignored, as are complaints about shutdowns.
Keywords: Africa, Police, Secret Police, Surveillance, Interception, Telecommunications, Internet, Governance, Privacy, Human Rights, Networks, cybersecurity, data protection
JEL Classification: O14, N47, M15, L13, L50, L59, L86, L96, K14, K23, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation