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Stephanie Muchai
[email protected]
Presentation for:
“Bloggers Responsible And Ethical Use Of Online
Freedom In The Election Period”
Friday October 12, 2012
I-HUB, Bishop Magua Centre - Ngong Rd, Nairobi
Online content regulation has become
an important focus of governments
across the globe as they have become
increasingly uneasy about the
availability of a wide variety of
online content, which they cannot
By and large, States have been
concerned with the availability of
terrorist propaganda, racist content,
hate speech, sexually explicit
content, including child pornography,
blasphemous content, content critical
of the government and its institutions
The only exceptional types of expression
that States are required to prohibit
under IL are: (a) child pornography; (b)
direct and public incitement to commit
genocide; (c) hate speech; and (d)
incitement to terrorism.
Criminalising these types of expression
must be sufficiently precise, and there
safeguards against abuse or misuse,
including oversight and review by an
independent and impartial tribunal or
regulatory body.
Internet means that any individual can now
self-publish his opinions and ideas on a blog
or social media network. This raises the
question of how journalism should be defined
and what is ‘media’ in the digital age.
Equally, the question arises whether and, if
so, how ‘citizen journalists’ and ‘bloggers’
should be regulated.
There are no clear standards on the following
two questions: first, whether, and if so, what
professional standards should be applied to
citizen journalists and bloggers;
and secondly, whether citizen journalists and
bloggers should be able to avail themselves of
the protection of sources.
Why is there an issue of whether bloggers
and citizen journalists are journalists in the
media definition?
Media freedom protections
Protection of sources
Safeguards from interference
Preventing self censorship
Level of regulation
Subject to duties and responsibilities of
Conflicting views about level at which
bloggers should be considered journalists
Approach to Regulation of Bloggers and
Citizen Journalists
 Any
laws affecting bloggers and
citizen journalists should recognise
that they have more limited duties
and responsibilities when exercising
their freedom of expression than
they do not have the same resources
and technical means as newspapers.
 Bloggers and citizen journalists are
not immune to the application of
such laws, e.g. defamation law. Both
have a duty, like any other citizen,
Approach to Regulation of Bloggers and Citizen
 The law does not generally make any distinctions
between journalists and the rest of the population
for the purposes of civil or criminal liability.
However, there is a world wide push by FoE
advocates to decriminalize defamation.
The question whether bloggers and citizen journalists can
avail themselves of legal principles governing the protection
of sources is more controversial.
It has been recommended in IL that some form of support
and protection should be provided to media actors who do
not fully qualify as media under a number of criteria set forth
by the Committee, such as bloggers, but who at the same
time ‘participate in the media ecosystem’ (i.e users who
make content of public interest available on collective online
shared spaces which are designed to facilitate interactive
mass communication - this includes content-sharing
platforms and social networking services.
Should bloggers and citizens should benefit from
the same legal protections as journalists where
they undertake the activity of journalism?
Are Internet users in Kenya being given the same
due process due to all accused persons?
What is the basis of citizen journalist/blogger
targeting in Kenya?
How are monitoring systems being used?
Are there ways in which Internet users are
prejudicing themselves while exercising their
freedom of expression through ignorance of
monitoring systems?