Day 1 of the Internet Freedom Forum 2016 just ended after an Open Mic session.
Lunch break presented the best opportunity for speakers and attendants to network.
Two more segments followed after the first being the launch of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom.
Edet Ojo, Executive director, Media Rights Agenda, Nigeria was the moderator of this session. Other speakers included Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Titi Akinsanmi, Head, Policy and Government Relations, Google, Dora Mawutor, Programme Officer, Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana and Renata Avila, Global Campaign Manager, Web We Want. The Senate President of Nigeria, senator Bukola Saraki was well represented by Mr Ibrahim Yakubu.
Just before the declaration was launched, Gbenga Sesan referred to the declaration as a unique opportunity for Africa as a continent. He warned about government officials making laws that affect citizens adversely because, according to him, “If you are in government today, tomorrow you’ll be an ordinary citizen. If you make laws today against citizens, when you stop being in power same laws will work against you.”
Titi Akinsanmi was opposed to the actions being taken by the government to regulate social media, saying that “regulation should not be used to control but should be used to guide.”
Bukola Saraki in his speech presented by Mr Ibrahim Yakubu expressed his support for internet freedom, however stated in no uncertain terms that he was opposed to the irresponsible use of the internet. He called on the advocates for online freedom to also confront, frown at and discourage all forms of cyber space abuse. Regarding the regulation of Social Media, Bukola Saraki’s speech read that with freedom comes the need for protection of rights. He advised that while we celebrate our collective right to use the internet, we must collectively support ways to encourage responsibility in our use of the internet.
This speech by Ibrahim on behalf of the Senate President elicited a reaction from Edet Ojo who countered Saraki’s call for the regulation of social media with an analogy about knives.
He said “We all have knives in our homes. Knives harm people, yet no one has suggested banning them or monitoring kitchens. Yet we all agree that when a person harms another with a knife it is a crime and should be punished. We should see the internet the same way. Whenever the internet is used for harmful purposes there is legitimacy of sanctioning such, however blocking access to all the citizens because of that will be a huge disservice.” He concluded by asking the government to seek to sanction, not the regular use of the internet but the illegitimate use of the internet.
The African declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom was launched soon after.
One final session took place after the launch, which is the second part of the Updates on Internet Freedom Views and Development Across the Continent. The last event for the day was an open mic session and then the compere, Tolu Adeleru-Balogun brought the first day of the Internet Freedom Forum to a close.
Stream live day 2 of the Internet Freedom Forum through www.pinigeria.org/off