On the occasion of the 2017 Data Privacy Day (January 28), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) calls on governments in West Africa to put in place progressive policies that would guarantee the safety of their citizens in online spaces.
In particular, the organisation is encouraging governments in the regions to incorporate encryption into policy interventions to facilitate a safe environment for expression, participation and contribution of all voices into governance processes.
The MFWA recognises that while the Internet provides a unique opportunity for all voices to be heard, the safety of the data shared by these voices is not guaranteed. Some unscrupulous online users take advantage of data available online to engage in cyber stalking, cyber bullying, spamming, phishing, online grooming for prostitution or terrorism, hate speech, and sharing of other violent content.
To help ensure that all voices are protected online, the MFWA is joining the Internet Society (ISOC), a global organisation dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by users, to mark the 2017 Data Privacy Day by highlighting the following 10 tips developed by ISOC to help online users, including West African netizens, to protect themselves and others online.
- Know the terrain. The Internet is a powerful tool for communication. Learn how to use the Internet, keep your eyes open for good and bad actors, and make the most of what the Internet offers.
- Keep your private life private. Keep your personal information separate from your professional role. Use different personas for different roles.
- Protect communications. Use end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication for confidential communications.
- Obscure your location. Remove location data from images and videos before posting. Turn off application access to location. Don’t disclose your location in public posts.
- Guard your devices. They’re more precious than any jewels. Protect them from both physical and digital tampering. Use encryption and strong access credentials.
- Prepare for an attack. Find allies and prepare a plan for dealing with online harassment, doxing and other forms of abuse. Don’t feed the trolls! They don’t deserve your attention.
- Stand firm. Don’t let cyber bullies undermine what you are doing. Show them you are not afraid. Others will stand with you. Be willing to ask for help.
- Beware of Trojan horses. Look out for spear-phishers. Check before connecting with someone new. If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t!
- Lead. Share your experience with others. Let people know that you are there to help.
- Protect others. If you host user-generated content, prevent users from posting derogatory or other abusive messages. Help remove personal information that has been exposed to hurt someone. Report offenders.
Data Protection Day is celebrated every January 28 to commemorate the signing of Convention 108 on January 28, 1981 – the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.