MISA has launched the second edition of the State of Press Freedom in Southern Africa report focusing on digital surveillance of journalists. The report also interrogates the right to privacy, access to information and freedom of expression and the growing trend of cyber bullying of female journalists. Read on!
The internet is increasingly becoming ubiquitous, thereby enhancing the exercise and enjoyment of citizens’ rights to access to information, freedom of expression and the broader democratisation agenda. Thanks to the internet and new digital technologies, journalists can now reach more audiences than ever before. The long and short of it is that the citizens of Southern Africa now have access to information at the tip of their fingers, literally.
While the democratising effect of the internet and new technologies is beyond doubt, many governments are turning to surveillance, which threatens the very democratic rights that citizens seek to enjoy. Protecting sources of confidential information is at the heart of journalism. UNESCO notes that privacy is a prerequisite for journalists to do their work and ensure access to fact-based and reliable information. Privacy is necessary for journalists to communicate freely with sources, receive confidential information, investigate corruption, and guarantee their safety and that of their sources.
Therefore, it is worrying that governments and big corporations are working to undermine the right to privacy by acquiring advanced software to spy on citizens and, by extension, journalists. The acquisition of digital surveillance tools and other forms of spyware will translate to fewer people willing to pass confidential information to journalists and this will undermine the right to access to information and ultimately affect democracy.
Read the full report here (34MB PDF)
Source: MISA Zimbabwe