The Internet, Social Media Gagging and Participatory Democracy in the Horn of Africa
Keywords:social media, internet gagging, internet governance
Governments across the globe seek opportunities at regular intervals to exercise state-power and control over aspects of society. This is not limited to dictatorships and centralized party states alone; the beginning of the internet age saw the conflicts over who has rights over the control of the internets. A typical example is the case between the French governments and Yahoo over the former’s request for Yahoo to ban Nazi’s memorabilia merchant sites from French cyberspace. The judicial decision favours the position of the French government thereby setting precedence for internet governance.It is one of the defining moments for the status of internet governance and cyber territoriality. Who has a right over the internet? Should states law be allowed to determine behaviours online? Who is to exercise juridical power in case of infractions? These questions have been addressed at different for a with the odds favouring states for obvious reasons; part of which include the fact that infrastructure for the transmission and distribution of internet access are domiciled in states and these provide opportunities for governments to wield their power against Internet Service Providers who might want to exercise independent agencies. Countries in the Horn of Africa are text-book cases of government seeking absolute censorship of citizens’ communication thereby infringing upon the rights of freedom of expression. This practice of leadership section discusses social media gagging and participatory democracy in the Horn of Africa.
Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu, Who controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World(New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 3-6.