Everyone has the right to access information on the Internet. All information, including scientific and social research, produced with the support of public funds, should be freely available to all, including on the Internet.
The Internet offers new opportunities to access information, and for governments to communicate with people, through the use of open data. Open data and new forms of online consultation can empower people to take a more active part in public affairs. Data and information held by governments should be made publicly accessible, including being released proactively and routinely, except where legitimate grounds for restricting access comply with the rule of law, including relevant freedom of information legislation. Public authorities and private bodies which perform public functions, provide public services or utilise public funds have a duty to collect and maintain information on their operations and activities on behalf of their population. They also have an obligation to respect minimum standards in relation to the management of this information to ensure that it may easily be made accessible to all. States and relevant non-state actors should demonstrate good practices in the management of data. The use and re-use of government-held data and information should be available free of charge wherever practical. If not, pricing should be transparent, reasonable, the same for all users, and not designed as a barrier to the use or re-use of the data. Copyrighted materials held by public bodies should be licensed for re-use in accordance with relevant access to information laws and licensing frameworks. The existing obligation on public bodies to share all information produced with the support of public funds, subject only to clearly defined rules set out in law, as established by the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, shall extend to the proactive release of such information on the Internet in openly licensed, freely re-useable formats.
Maha Jouini is an Addis Ababa-based Tunisian blogger, and women’s rights and indigenous rights activist, with a special focus on the Amazigh community. She collaborates with the Campaign to End Child Marriage and is on the executive board of the Regional Coalition of Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She is also a translator for Global Voices.
Human Rights groups and organisations responded to internet shutdown in Uganda during national elections through a joint letter to the African Union, Ugandan Government and other important parastatal institutions. The letter expressed the through the shutting down of the internet, human rights violations were committed.
Internet access and affordability is one of the principles of the Declaration (Principle 2). In this blog, Yolanda Mlonzi, a South African International Relations and Media Studies student, provides a personal perspective on the issue of this key principle of the Declaration and why having affordable and accessible internet is so important for her and her education.