A two day national symposium on fighting hate speeches and fake news online is underway in Yaounde.
The symposium organised by Internet Sans Frontieres in partnership with Paradigm Initiative, Global Network Initiative, Internet Society, Facebook, Google, Access Now and many local and international civil society organizations as well as entrepreneurs, is aimed at providing solutions and approaches to limit misinformation and hate speech online, while preserving the digital rights of Internet users in Cameroon.
According to Julie Owono, Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières, “The purpose of this symposium is to reflect on the current issues of disinformation and the spread of dangerous online speech. It is also to propose alternative solutions to the Internet shutdowns while analyzing their negative impact on the digital economy and citizens’ rights. Are the efforts, made by civil society organizations, public authorities and telecommunication operators, ways to safeguard connectivity and freedoms? ”
In 2006, in Cameroon, the population with internet access was estimated to more than 4.3 million people (out of 22 million inhabitants). Cameroon is one of the African countries, with Lesotho and Mali, that have the strongest increase in connectivity rates in the last two years. The strategic plan put in place by the government, “Cameroon Digital Horizon 2020” has allowed the development of new infrastructures that have ensured this exceptional growth of connectivity.
However, the development of the digital economy and the Internet in Cameroon is thwarted by many pitfalls. The ongoing social, political and security crisis in the North West and South West regions and the fight against the Boko Haram sect in the north of the country have had an impact on the access of civilians to the Internet. The North West and South West regions have experienced long periods of Internet shutdown that have been denounced by many local and international organizations of civil society.
For two days participants at the symposium are expected to discuss on the them and carve out necessary commitments to preserve the freedom, peace, and stability of the Internet in Cameroon.