A digital scramble for Africa : US, EU and Chinese influences on internet regulation in Africa and their effects on freedom of expression and the right to privacy

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Fischer, David
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Divisive Internet regulation is fragmenting the formerly worldwide web into numerous shards that follow their own rules. The US, the EU and China are influential in shaping regulation even beyond their own jurisdictions, with consequences for human rights, particularly in Africa. This paper argues that, as of 2020, the Western post-9/11 security agenda and uncontrolled digital capitalism had a more detrimental impact on Internet regulation in Africa than the authoritarian Chinese concept of Internet sovereignty, seriously affecting freedom of expression and the right to privacy online. However, particularly authoritarian governments in Africa use China’s economic and political agenda to their advantage, leaving civil societies at the mercy of digitally empowered states. Direct ways of impacting Internet regulation in Africa include loans, development programs or influential laws, whereas indirect means include engagement in multilateral and multi-stakeholder fora. Besides the political and economic interests of states, the datafication agendas of ICT corporations shape Internet landscapes in Africa. An emerging data protection framework pushed by the EU has the potential to mitigate their impact. Other means of protecting human rights require a united approach by the African Union and a deconstruction of digital capitalism and dependence relations between African states and the Global North.
Second semester University: University of Coimbra
internet, Africa, China, United States of America, European Union, human rights, freedom of expression, right of privacy, authoritarianism, security, data protection