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Nigerian Military’s Surveillance of Social Media Alarming- Paradigm Initiative

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The report that the Nigerian military has commenced monitoring social media activity of Nigerians has been in the news in the past few days.

This development might not be unconnected to the recent pronouncement by the Vice-President that hate speech will soon be considered an act of terrorism.

President Muhammadu Buhari also spoke along this line saying when he spoke concerning some distressing comments he encountered on Nigerian social media during his long medical vacation in London.

John Enenche, director of Defence Information, Major General while speaking recently during an Interview session on Channels television, stated that “The activities of Nigerians on the social media are now being monitored for hate speech, anti-government and anti-security information by the military”.

He went further to state, “What are we doing? In the military, we are now taking on it more seriously than ever. We have our strategic media centres that monitor the social media to be able to sieve out and react to all the ones that will be anti-government, be anti-military, (and) be anti-security. We tackle them appropriately with appropriate responses.

“Ahead of that, we are also proactive. We have measures in place, scientific measures to be able to sieve this information and also to get the public and let them know that some of this information they are getting is not genuine are not true and their objective is an anti-corporate existence of this country.”

These sentiments expressed by the Defence spokesman was echoed by the Twitter handle @DefenseMonitor, which was widely assumed to be a communications outlet for the Defence headquarters.

Thankfully, the Presidential Office for Digital Communications through their Twitter handle @DigiCommsNG has come out to denounce the @DefenseMonitor handle as fake.

As we wait for more facts to emerge, we at Paradigm Initiative are justifiably alarmed at this development and call on all other defenders of digital rights of Nigerians to join us in calling for caution. We contend that all measures taken to safeguard the security of Nigerians must also by default protect their digital rights such as privacy and freedom of expression online.

In response to these developments, ‘Gbenga Sesan, the executive director of Paradigm Initiative, said, “The statement made by the Director of Defence Information during the Channels television interview is worrisome. More troubling is the inability of the Defence Headquarters in following the Presidential Office for Digital Engagement in denouncing the tweets by @DefenseMonitor – tweets which essentially echo the sentiments of the Director of Defence Information. Merely disowning the twitter handle is not enough, the military must assure us by its words and actions that it does not share the sentiment expressed by the suspended twitter handle”

Speaking further on this, Tope Ogundipe, the director of Programmes of Paradigm Initiative, stated, “We urge for caution in light of this new development. While we await more information, the words of the Director of Defence Information and the sentiments echoed by the now denounced Twitter handle @DefenseMonitor are consistent with the experience of numerous Nigerians who have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression online. We maintain that the digital rights of Nigerians must be respected irrespective of any security measure implemented by the government”.

Lending his voice to the debate, Boye Adegoke, the program manager for Magoyi, Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights advocacy programme, added, “This new development follows a noticeable trend in Nigeria, where policies and legislation like the Cybercrime Law have been made by the ruling class to silence the voices of ordinary Nigerians. In response to this, over the years Paradigm Initiative has organized workshops and roundtables to sensitive the public and policy makers on digital rights. We are also working alongside our partners to pass the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, which seeks to safeguard the human rights of Nigerians online, into law”.

Although Paradigm Initiative very much supports any effort taken to safeguard the security of Nigerians, we contend that they must have a basis in the rule of law and must have the appropriate legislative oversight. Paradigm Initiative, therefore, calls on the Defence Headquarters to join the Presidential Office for Digital Engagement in denouncing the viewpoints expressed on the @DefenseMonitor Twitter handle.

Paradigm Initiative will continue to work to defend the digital rights of Nigerians. Digital rights like privacy and freedom of expression are important components of modern societies and must not be sacrificed on the altar of national security.

 


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Konga Eyes Listing on Global Stock Markets as Part of Africa Expansion – Prince Ekeh

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Konga, foremost retail giant, has invested well over $120m since it was acquired two years ago in Nigeria alone and now strategically structured to take on other African countries.

Konga Eyes Listing on Global Stock Markets as Part of Africa Expansion – Prince Ekeh

Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, co-chief executive officer, Konga Group

Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, co-chief executive officer, Konga Group, who stated this also said that ‘‘Though we started with a monthly loss of N400m, but with new systems, structure and energy put in place, we have gradually been reducing losses and now about N100m loss per month. E-Commerce is an expensive project but we are best positioned to deliveras a very innovative technology company,’’ he disclosed.

Equally important, Prince Ekeh made the disclosure on Kaleidoscope, an interview programme aired on Channels TV on Sunday, August 2. The young business leader, who described Konga as a technology company revealed that Konga employs directly and indirectly over 150,000 Nigerians. Most of them are merchants, logistics and other service providers.

‘‘We partner to create a trusted and sustainable digitally-driven ecosystem and working hard to scale this to about 250,000 before the end of 2020.

‘‘We see ourselves as more than just an e-Commerce company. Konga is a technology company and as a technology company, we are positioned to leverage that status in deploying new solutions and innovations. Indeed, no one should be surprised if tomorrow, Konga starts launching space ships into orbit. Although we have received several offers from interested investors, we are content with the group that is currently funding Konga. The group is highly ethical and want us to maintain the highest level of integrity.Our investors have assured us of enough capital to survive the next five years atleast. This was why we did not accommodate a valuation of $300m from a consortium of global investors last year.

‘‘However, we are also keen to expand into other African markets after taking charge of the Nigerian market. The e-Commerce market in African is still a largely untapped one. Therefore, any company that makes the right in-roads will reap huge benefits from it,’’ he said.

‘‘We have also received enquiries from the New York Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange to list on these markets. It’s something that will happen as part of our African expansion plan when Konga becomes a multi-billion-dollar business.’’

Continuing, he stated: ‘‘Our strategies and tact are 21st century influenced, but also taking cognizance of deficiencies in our country and that was why we spent the first two years rebuilding technologies, setting up secure but robust warehousing facilities and delivery logistics nationwide. With these under our control and owned by us,we are driving towards profitability.  It is important to note that at Konga, we do not believe in just hype

‘‘In addition to our status as a technology company, Konga is also Nigeria’s first ever marketplace andcomposite e-commerce group. The company is on the verge of rolling out a suite of cutting-edge solutions and services that will excite the market very soon.

‘‘But that is not all. A lot is happening behind the scenes at Konga. We recently announced the re-launch of the Konga Affiliate programme. Also, we developed a solution for corporate procurement which has helped procurement managers in major establishments. Konga boasts the largest collection of merchants and because of this, pricing is very aggressive, thereby helping procurement managers get the best deals on Konga while also promoting transparency. We are committed to our vision and clearly understand that it is a long term and highly ethical race,’’ he concluded.

Acquired by the Zinox Group in December 2018 and having achieved over 1000% growth, Konga has grown from a position of strength into arguably Nigeria’s leading e-Commerce brand, with a long list of innovative strategies and solutions setting it apart in the sector.

 

 

 

 


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Antitrust Regulation Tip of the Iceberg for Big Techs- GlobalData

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The US Congress anti-trust committee held a five-hour hearing on the market power of big tech companies this week.

Antitrust Regulation Tip of the Iceberg for Big Techs- GlobalData

However, antitrust is just the tip of the iceberg, according to GlobalData, as regulators are expected to come after big tech companies in ten different areas – with antitrust, misinformation and data privacy the most urgent issues.

Laura Petrone, senior analyst at GlobalData, commented: “At stake is the very future of the ad-funded business model that supports Facebook, Google and many others. Under this model, free services are provided in exchange for personal data, which is then used to serve targeted ads to users. Reduced security, alongside less reliable information, is the price that users have to pay.

“Antitrust has been, and will continue to be, a major regulatory plague for big tech. However, in the future, control of data will be the key regulatory issue, with data privacy gaining prominence. In aspects such as content, online harm and obstruction of justice, the tech giants will be asked to adopt a duty of care or face tighter control, with internet ecosystems like Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple being particularly vulnerable. In these areas, including copyright, a big divide is emerging between traditional publishers and broadcasters that are, by and large, trusted for their reputable, high quality content, and tech giants that refuse to bear responsibility for the toxic and sometimes illegal content they publish.”

Petrone continued: “In the digital era, the abuse of market power is real. The key to understanding it is to look at the control of customer data by big tech companies. The major internet ecosystems have established near-monopolies in their respective sectors by producing apps that combine user interface, software code and personal data, and are controlled from their own cloud servers. Most online data is siloed on the servers of companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, and is monetized through targeted advertising. This implies that, if users move to a rival service, they lose their data.

“Big tech companies can use this wealth of data to spy on competitors, acquire important information on them, and use it to reinforce their own dominance. Congress’s hearing showed that, while competition laws were not conceived for the digital economy, antitrust is a critical issue in for the tech giants and tackling it will probably require a reframing of existing legislation”.

 

 


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How Facebook’s Messenger Kids can Help Parents Safely Introduce their Children to Social Media

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By Evelyn Kasina

From the onset of the Coronavirus, there has been the unuttered and unmet request from our children, “We miss our friends, we want to connect with them and do fun things like we did before!” While the Coronavirus has denied our children the ability to go to school, play with their friends and do what they do best – be children, the virus has also exposed our inherent need as humans to stay physically connected with each other.

As we all get accustomed to the “new normal” ways of connecting with our loved ones, Social media has become our closest ally with video calls offering a somewhat close to normal “face to face” experience for adults and children alike.

Video conferencing and Social media apps now enable virtual meetings, webinars, Live parties and groups that mobilize communities for a common good despite social distancing. Most learning has also gone virtual with schools using virtual lessons to stay up to date with the curriculum and keep children engaged.

Apart from school work, children are also browsing the internet as part of their learning and social time. As the “new normal” becomes our new reality, children are spending more time online as they look for interactive ways to entertain and connect with their friends.

According to the latest report by Internetworldstats Q1 2020 March, internet penetration in Africa is rising with total penetration at 39%.

The highest penetration is noted in Kenya with  up to 87%, Libya at 74 % and Seychelles at 72%. Whereas these rising numbers show positive growth in the digital space, they also portend concern where there is unregulated use of the internet by young impressionable minds.

It is inevitable that our children will be more exposed to online platforms than before and this has parents mulling over how much control they should exercise over their children’s interactions with social media.

With this in mind, mobile apps that aim at improving safety controls to children are welcome and useful to parents. The good news is that we’re increasingly seeing social media platforms taking an active lead in providing solutions.

Recently Facebook launched the Facebook Messenger for Kids, a video chat and messaging app that helps children between the ages of 6 to 12 years connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space.

The platform is fostering amazing and safe connections between children and parents. Through the apps Parent Dashboard, parents can control and monitor their children’s online activities.  It is great to note that the dashboard can monitor recent contacts, chat history, and see a log of images and videos in chats.

The app also has some interesting features such as Supervised Friending that enables parents to choose to allow their kids to also accept, reject, add or remove contacts, while maintaining the ability to override any new contact approvals from the Parent Dashboard.

Remote Devise Logout is a feature that allows parents to see all devices where their child is logged in to Messenger Kids and log out of the app on any device through the Parent Dashboard. The app also enables parents to download the child’s information as a way of staying up to date with their online activities.

As a Digital Literacy Online and Safety practitioner, I loved the fact that Messenger Kids provides a safe space for parents to learn about social media whilst coaching their children on how to handle their information and connect with their friends and family.

When I raved about the app to some of my close friends they initially expressed general concerns about social media citing explicit content, online predators, excessive screen time and online addiction.

I know that being a Parent isn’t easy and that most parents have tonnes of questions about Social Media and when to introduce their children to it. I advise parents who are considering Messenger Kids and other kid-friendly apps to have conversations about Social media with their children- they may be surprised just how much their kids know! Rather than shying away from addressing topics like stalking and bullying, parents should lean onto these conversations encouraging children to respect each other and their diversity and flagging any bullying or harassment that they face on social media or in school.

For parents who wish to introduce Messenger Kids to their children, it’s also noteworthy to highlight that the app allows parents and guardians to manage screen time by applying a sleep mode feature that limits the amount of time spent online.

Ultimately, Messenger Kids is a technological advancement and in my view a great tool that parents can use to promote digital literacy and encourage online safety. Parents can also use the app as a conduit to discuss social media with their children from an early age.

In this digital age, I believe that African parents can also use the app to foster connections for their children while encouraging them to share educational content about their diversity and culture. The Messenger Kids app can be used as an educational platform where children can collaborate with their teachers.

Creating digital citizens is a task that falls on parents, guardians and educators so we have to strive to equip our children with reasonable independence by modelling it to them.

Evelyn Kasina, Family IT Consultant and CEO of Eveminet Communication Solutions Limited, Kenya


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