In modern world, shun digitalisation at your own peril

The world has rapidly moved towards digitalization and that has made life easy in terms of communication, business, tourism and in many other sectors.

In quick analysis, digital revolution began in the latter half of the 20th century, with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record-keeping, that continues to the present day.

For your quick understanding,  the term also refers to the sweeping changes brought by digital computing and communication technologies during this period, which in turn must in one way or another affect your perception of life.

Noticing the importance of this movement, Heads of States globally have engaged and invested heavily in pushing their governments and citizens to go digital and that is why Tanzania signed two major contracts recently worth 275.5bn/- between Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) and telecom companies for the implementation of projects aimed at ensure the availability of communication services in rural and urban under-served areas.

Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania who witnessed the signing ceremony said it was an important step towards the fourth industrial revolution-which is a basic factor towards the digital economy.

Our world today is undeniably digital. New technologies from social media and GPS systems to artificial intelligence and digital twins make the planet we inhabit unrecognisable from even 20 years ago.

According to Forbes, from the 1950s onwards, with a distinct bounce in the 1990s due to the advent of the Web, digitization has changed the way we work, shop, bank, travel, educate, govern, manage our health, and enjoy life.

The increase of technology and digital use that comes with more positivity in our society has also been a threat to our communities as more cases of blackmail, fraud, harassment, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, online impersonation and many other have aroused leading to mental illness, suicide and the rest.

With the rate of this growth the need for people to be educated on their digital rights, precautions and to know how to use the platforms has been an agenda and a way of curbing the various incidents happening and affecting people especially, the young generation, (youth & children) as well as the group of women.

For this reason the Digital Rights Coalition organized a workshop in Dar es Salaam with the aim of building awareness among stakeholders on laws, policies and regulations that govern digital issues in Tanzania as well as facilitating discussion on existing challenges and opportunities found in the digital space.

Speaking during the event, the Director and Co-Founder of the Launch Pad Tanzania, Carol Ndosi said as the biggest part of human’s life and activities is on the digital, hence,there is need to educate the society, especially from the rural level to know how to use social platforms and their digital rights.

“I define digital rights as human rights, because basically human rights are all about rights to self-expression and that is what digital rights defend. What we are trying to do is to remove the line standing between human rights and digital rights,” Carol said.

Director and Co-Founder of the Launch Pad Tanzania, Carol Ndosi

According to the Launchpad Director, the increase of various online sexual harassment, bullying and nudes is due lack of knowledge where she also insisted on the need for the government to intervene and increase more power in the protection of personal information.

Many girls and children are victims of this issue. A girl can send a sext message to his lover, her intention is that it should be seen by one person but unfortunately the pictures or videos go viral on social media be it circulated by the boy himself or another source but that was not meant for the public, she must know the rights that protect her but also is important to be educated on what she can share or what she shouldn’t,”

She added; “we have been receiving many cases of girls who are victims but the surprising thing is that, as much as they are being offended, they still fear to report and even follow up the cases for their rights and finally the preparatory walk escort free.”

As Tanzania faces the situation, reports show that the degree of such incidents increased during the Covid-19 breakout where in America, according to the Washington website from the period of 2019 to 2020, reports of adults enticing minors online doubled to about 38,000 from 19,000.

Experts say that such could lead to cyberbullying, privacy violations and blackmailing, and the social stigma of sexting often leads communities to punish victims of sexting violations more harshly than offenders while insufficient sex education leaves teens confused about consent.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the effects of cyberbullying can last a long time and affect a person in many ways:

  • Mentally – feeling upset, embarrassed, stupid, even afraid or angry
  • Emotionally – feeling ashamed or losing interest in the things you love
  • Physically – tired (loss of sleep), or experiencing symptoms like stomach aches and headaches.

The feeling of being laughed at or harassed by others can prevent people from speaking up or trying to deal with the problem. In extreme cases, cyber bullying can even lead to people taking their own lives.

However, Carol advised telecom companies to be part of the campaign by sending messages to everyone who acquires their sim cards informing them on digital laws.

She added: “If Mobile Companies can send us information on their various services, it means they can contribute to public education. It is possible that when someone buys a sim card he gets a short text that informs him about the law, how to protect themselves while using the internet and to report in case they face abuse, theft.

“Many are not aware of their rights, and this overlaps with being aware of their responsibilities as digital citizens. There are many mistakes that are made on the internet due to people not knowing their rights and responsibilities.”|

On her part, the Program Manager in Jamii Forums Ziada Seukindo said the Digital Rights Coalition began last year with the aim of enabling people to see the various opportunities available at the digital space as well as their protection.

“Now that almost everyone uses digital platforms, our identity is online and at the same time at stake. These days, people’s pictures and personal information are online where someone can use them anywhere in a way that can harm you or people close to you. But also we should remember that there are people who earn their income online and so they can also be affected if the law or the digital space is not good,” she stated.

Equally, she stressed on the importance of freedom of expression saying that as a digital community they get affected in case people are not free to express their various views and ideas.

The Digital Rights Coalition comprises a total of 13 members who carry the same goal of dealing with human rights issues where Jamii Forums and the Launch Pad Tanzania chair the association.

Some of the members are the Union of Tanzania Press Club (UTPC), Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Haki Maendeleo and the Tanzania Data Lab.

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