How African Governments Undermine the Use of Encryption

Encryption is the ability to encode communications (or information or data) so that only the intended recipient can access, read or understand them. As such, encryption technologies enable internet users to protect the confidentiality of their data and communications from unwanted observation and intrusion. Worryingly, many African countries have passed legislation that limits anonymity and the use of encryption, purportedly to aid governments’ efforts to combat terrorism and crime. Other governments limit the use of encryption to enable them to monitor the communications of critical journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition politicians. These laws and practices undermine the privacy rights of citizens, which in turn hampers their right to free expression and to secure use of digital technologies.