africaLast week, 23 civil society groups released the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms at the Internet Governance Forum. The Declaration was drafted by a committee led by Edetean Ojo , Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda, which announced the Declaration as “a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in internet policy formulation and implementation on the continent. The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the internet, and to cultivate an internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.”

The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is organized around twelve key principles, including Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information and Open Data.

Excerpt from the section on Freedom of Expression:

Filtering, blocking, removal and other technical or legal limits on access to content constitute serious restrictions on freedom of expression and can only be justified if they strictly comply with international human rights standards relating to limitations and due process requirements. No one should be held liable for content on the Internet of which they are not the author. Furthermore, the State should not use or force intermediaries to undertake censorship on its behalf and intermediaries should not be required to prevent, hide or block content or disclose information about Internet users, or to remove access to user-generated content, including those that infringe copyright laws, unless they are required to do so by an order of a court.

Excerpt from the section on the Right to Information and data:

Data and information held by government should be made publicly accessible, including being released proactively and routinely, except where legitimate grounds for restricting access to such information exists in the relevant access to information legislation… Copyrighted materials held by public bodies should be licensed for re-use in accordance with relevant access to information laws and licensing frameworks.

The full African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is available at