BYOD #12: Surveillance on journalists and social media taxes

This week’s round-up of digital security news and investigative journalism.

ANCIR’s weekly post offering interesting — or amusing — digital security news from around the world, and tips for newsrooms, journalists and sources on the latest security measures.

1. Uganda’s social media tax takes effect

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The new social media tax that had been proposed by the Uganda government came into effect on Sunday. This has led citizens to turn to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the tax. The law imposes a daily levy of $0.05 on internet users, especially those using messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. In a statement, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said the move is to reduce the use of messaging platforms for “lying” and “squandering hard earned local currency”. The government has also promised to block VPNs in the country, which has provoked negative criticism online.

2. Surveillance on South African journalists

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

A social movement campaign for the free flow of information in South Africa Right 2 Know has released a report on surveillance on journalists in the country. The report titled ‘Spooked’ shows significant evidence of targeted surveillance by security agencies towards journalists, especially those who have uncovered government scandals and corruption cases. According to Murray Hunter of the Right 2 Know campaign, the purpose of the report is to give journalists a better picture of potential threats and viable solutions for defending and protecting themselves. The campaign is also aimed at ending surveillance abuses and changing the policies that enable them.

3. Return of the Wangiri fraud calls in Kenya

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Thousands of phone users in Kenya have been targeted in the latest Wangiri telephone scam. This scam sees fraudsters dialling random numbers and disconnecting almost immediately, prompting the victim to call back. Once the victim returns the call, they are re-routed to overseas numbers with premium rates and will be billed exorbitant amounts just to listen to pre-recorded messages. Cyber Awareness and Training coordinator at the Kenya Cyber Security and Forensics Association, Michael Felix, has blamed the lack of awareness as a leading factor in putting more people at risk.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device/Data) refers to owning your data and digital property, and keeping it secure. This newsletter is brought to you with support from Project Shield and Code For Africa.

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The African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) is an association of the continent’s best investigative newsrooms, ranging from large traditional media to small specialist units.

ANCIR works to strengthen African investigative journalism by improving the techniques, expertise, the tools used in muckraking newsrooms. This includes providing member newsrooms with the world’s best encryption and semantic analysis technologies, to forensic research support (through the Investigative Dashboard), legal services, and seed grants for cross-border collaboration.

ANCIR is incubated by and receives technical support from Code for Africa.

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