Network launched to advance digital rights in Ethiopia

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ADDIS ABABA – civil society leaders and concerned citizens have launched initiative to advance digital rights in Ethiopia under the auspices of the Network for Digital Rights in Ethiopia (NDRE).

Drawn from prominent human right lawyers, civil society leaders and interested citizens NDRE works to identify digital right gaps in Ethiopia and seeks proactive solutions that advance freedom of expression, association and economic rights of citizens utilizing the digital space.

“we are a network of people who advocate for interrupted internet access to Ethiopians, help protect their privacy rights, create awareness and build capacity in partnership with civic groups, government, private sector and citizens at large to advocate and protect a principal medium of communication that people depend on,” said Amha Mekonnen, Chairperson of NDRE.

An increasing number of Ethiopians are using computers and networks to conduct work and activities in their private lives. However, there is no organization that works for the protection of their digital rights. As a result, there are many limitations and dangers in using information and communication technologies in Ethiopia. This is why group of interested individuals and organizations established the Network for Digital Rights in Ethiopia (NDRE) to work for better understanding and protection of digital rights in Ethiopia.

Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), Program Director Atnafu Birhane, told The Ethiopian Herald that, digital rights advocate and member of the iconic zone nine bloggers movement said “forming a network of civic groups and individuals committed to the advancement of digital rights has long lasting impact in the respect of freedom of expression, association and economic rights of Ethiopian citizens”.

Atnafu further noted that the outage has disrupts citizens who rely on online services for information and for conducting business in the country and this kind of activity will directly hinder the development of the country and specifically business sectors who depend on internet to conduct their business.

NDRE works to influence policy, laws and regulations that affect platform ownership and the right to internet access that is deemed critical for the socio-economic advancement of Ethiopians. The administrative and legal home of the network hosted the launching of NDRE on the sidelines of the recent forum on internet freedom that took place in Addis Ababa.

The 2019 Edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), began took place this week in Addis Ababa, attended by delegations from African states and representatives of companies from other countries around the world.

Organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) and the ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the event is a platform for discussing Internet rights and freedoms, it was learnt.

The Ethiopian Herald Sept 28/2019

 BY HAILE DEMEKE