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Will The African Union Convention On Cybercrime Be Effective?

Will The African Union Convention On Cybercrime Be Effective And Protect Human Rights?

April 14, 2015

With the rise in internet users across Africa cybercrime is a growing problem involving “gangs embracing more sophisticated ways to use technology, such as malware and botnets…” reports the BBC.

The high number of African users means an estimated “49 million cyber-attacks took place on the continent in the first quarter of last year”.

Experts agree that the best way to help counter this phenomenon is for individual countries to adopt cybersecurity policies and to enforce them. One of the mechanisms by which to do this most effectively is through a group of nations such as the African Union (AU).

The AU has drafted a convention that will mirror “the data protection framework and language developed by the European Union,” tentatively entitled the African Union Convention on the Establishment of a Legal Framework Conducive to Cyber Security in Africa.

In theory, the Convention will require signatory governments to uphold the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Some scholars, including those at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology at Strathmore University in Kenya, believe that the Convention may both limit freedom of expression and allow interception of private data by authorities.

There is also concern that judges will take advantage of search and seizure warrants for data and computers and that harsh criminal convictions may result from laws that are not drafted using objective standards. Critics of the Convention charge that it will be in direct conflict with protecting human rights and that the best way to alleviate this is by encouraging other sectors to contribute to the legislative process, such as NGOs and ethical hackers.

For more about the Convention and cybercrime in Africa see: