Bill on Internet Rights to be Introduced in Cameroon Parliament

Colbert Gwain: Executive Director of ‘A Common Future’ is fronting the internet rights protection campaign

By Yussuf Issa, Wednesday June 28, 2017

Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – A private member’s bill seeking to protect the rights of internet users in Cameroon will soon be tabled at the National Assembly for scrutiny; The Cameroon Journal has been informed.

Arrangements for the tabling of the bill, an initiative of Bamenda-based non-governmental organization, A Common Future, The Cameroon Journal learnt yesterday, are far advanced.

Colbert Gwain Fulai, founder and Executive Director of A Common Future told our reporter recently that should the bill sail through, issues such as internet shutdown and surveillance by government should be brought under control.

Going by a draft of the bill titled “Creating a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ for Cameroon: Why do we need it and what should we include?” the initiators disclosed that amongst other things, it seeks to ensure that the civil and human rights that apply in the physical world also apply online.

The bill, they said, also aims to establish the key rights that are particular to the digital sphere, ensure greater transparency around the ways in which government and private companies use personal data as well as protect and control citizens to take control of their own personal data and to make information choices about their digital lives.

In an introductory note, the initiators wrote: “Drawing from the sad experience of an unprecedented internet shutdown in parts of Cameroon and the human, economic, social, cultural and political consequences on Cameroon, this bill sets forth principles, guarantees, rights and duties for the use of the internet in Cameroon and establishes guidelines for action by government and its citizens in relation to the internet so that internet shutdowns do not become the new common in this nation.”

They further point out that: “There is no comprehensive piece of law that sets out our digital rights in one place. Where such rights do exist, they have developed, in a piecemeal fashion, as a result of human rights law, Cameroon legislation and African Union directives.”

Since the passage of the 2010 law on cybersecurity, they said there have been huge technological advances in the country, including “a tectonic shift in the way we interact socially and an explosive growth in data creation.”

“These changes have brought enormous social and economic benefits, but they have also created an array of opportunities for the misuse of personal data, whether by public authorities, criminals, or commercial interests” stated parts of the draft bill.

“The time has come to set out the fundamental rights and liberties that will protect us and enable us to thrive as confident citizens and consumers of the digital world. The time has come for a Digital Bill of Rights” they added.

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