Speaking at the conference, US Asst Sect Mike Posner said countries that try to limit the social aspects of Internet gain nothing in the end. He added that one cannot separate one kind of freedom from another saying there is a new race to connect and it is futile to try to talk about freedoms […]
Speaking at the conference, US Asst Sect Mike Posner said countries that try to limit the social aspects of Internet gain nothing in the end.
He added that one cannot separate one kind of freedom from another saying there is a new race to connect and it is futile to try to talk about freedoms on one platform and not another.
Freedoms offline should be freedoms online, he said.
Posner further praised Kenya saying it has led by example by allowing such innovations to be used as citizen voices.
Kenya’s Internet use is also high with an increase of over 95 percent, as of March.
“The way to foster development, openness and harness potential of new tech is through inclusion and collaboration,” Posner said.
Although no platform should be used for selfish gain the government has a role to play in ensuring open access for business and expression and the US will support this openness, according to Posner.
Emphasising on what Obama said, Posner explained: “We will fight hard to ensure internet remains an instrument to allow freedom of expression.”
There is need to leverage the economic and social benefit of the Internet without inhibitions. This is especially important in Africa, as only Kenya and Ghana are members of Freedom Online to date.
While the two countries Kenya and Ghana have emerged more active policy makers on ICT and Internet governance, and have developed relevant legal frameworks and policies including standards of freedom of expression online, many African nations are still either starting to develop interest in this area, or are yet to get involved.
Leon Willems, director of Free Press Unlimited, said there is need to allow and increase privacy and anonymity adding that governments were underperforming in the area of privacy.
Countries need to be held accountable for potential harm of open Internet, he said.
The Kenya Freedom Online conference seeks to open Internet economically and socially without restrictions or censorship. The internet was pivotal in the Islamic revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and still could be used to further individual rights in countries across the continent.
This conference comes to Kenya barely a week when two Kenyan bloggers were arraigned in court after allegedly breaching section 29(b) of the Kenya Information and Communications Act of 2009.
Platforms like Ushahidi are important as they lay out what Daudi Were, Ushahidi’s project director Africa, argues crowdsourcing platforms like Ushahidi would not have been possible if the Internet freedom was restricted.
Internet has to be free just as people are free offline. The conference urges governments to protect its citizens from cybercrimes instead of limiting their freedom of expression online.
This is the second conference of its kind. The first was held last year in December in The Hague, Netherlands.