Clients surf the internet in Congo Federico Scoppa/Getty Images

解放非洲的互联网

华盛顿—让亚的斯亚贝巴政府大吃一惊的是,“第九区”(Zone 9)成了埃塞俄比亚一个家喻户晓的名字。2012年以来,这个线上记者活跃分子团体利用社交媒体要求国家实现政治自由和公民自由。它的成功——比如可以用其Facebook页面上的点赞和评论数量衡量——是在政府试图让写手噤声的情况下取得的,包括2014年六名成员因为子虚乌有的恐怖主义指控而被逮捕。

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埃塞俄比亚政府不是唯一一个试图通过限制公民的网络言论来巩固政治权力的政府。放眼非洲,许多政府都实施了限制互联网接入、将对当选官员的批评入罪的法律。数字活动家面对各种审查技术,如“边界网关协议”攻击、“HTTP限流”和“深层封包检测”等。

当然,讽刺的是审查很少能够让不满噤声。政府干预非但不能镇压异见,反而刺激了更多的人在WhatApp、Facebook、Twitter和其他社交媒体平台上宣泄不满,非洲人通过这些渠道对日益挑战腐败的政府、曝光被操纵的选举,并要求自己的声音被听到。

但此时此刻,很少有非洲领导人在聆听。在2016年举行了选举的18个非洲国家中,有九个国家的领导人实施了某种程度的互联网限制以遏制异见。2月份乌干达总统选举投票前四天,总统穆塞韦尼切断了移动支付服务和社交媒体网站。8月和9月,加蓬总统班戈意欲在国际社会面前营造平静的氛围,关闭了夜间互联网接入。12月,民主刚果官员下令在总统卡比拉卸任前一天关闭互联网,以压制他拒绝下台所引发的网上异见。

这类断网行为违反了人权,也破坏了民主进程。去年,联合国人权委员会通过了一项决议,重申“人们在线下的权利,在线上也必须得到保护,特别是言论自由。”

大部分非洲政府用辩称断网是为了确保公共安全和安保而不得已而为之。比如,穆塞韦尼宣称切断互联网接入是在其就职典礼上保护来访的各国首脑的唯一办法。但他没有拿出任何证据证明社交媒体接入和乌干达或其他任何国家的安全有什么联系。据推动数字权利的国际团体“马上连通”(Access Now)组织的数据,断网通常让人感到更安全,因为人们无法在不确定时获得信息或与亲朋取得联系。

随着多个非洲国家重要选举的临近,断网也再次走进人们的视野。在津巴布韦,93岁的总统穆加贝预计将履任其第八个总统任期(从2018年年中开始),政府主导的镇压行动看来已是势在必行。几十年来,穆加贝依靠恐吓和暴力扼杀政治异见。因此,毫不奇怪,他早已对在线活动持敌对态度。去年,他的政府在政治示威期间关闭了互联网,并宣称要逮捕所有制造或分享“社交媒体上的诽谤或颠覆性材料”的人。

但公民并非无望。政府固然可以下令断网,但只有通讯公司有能力按下“死亡开关”。因此,非洲博客写手和在线活动家们必须更加紧密地与通讯企业的投资者和股东合作,说服他们力挺民主和人权,拒绝反自由的政府指令。

此外,公民社会团体、非洲联盟和联合国应该加大力度谴责旨在将限制互联网的政策常规化的立法。2013年,非盟发布了信息接触示范法,如今,它应该为各国提供新的指引,教它们如何捍卫在线收集和表达观点的权利。

最后,需要新的洲级措施确保非洲在线权利得到政府和承认和尊重。尽管保护在线自由的联合国人权委员会决议不具有约束力,但它为确保政府允许公民将互联网用作政治参与最大化的工具提供了一个起点。

这些干预比以往任何时候都更加需要。肯尼亚、津巴布韦和埃塞俄比亚立法机关正在考虑显著扩大政府互联网接入管制权的立法。去年,坦桑尼亚实施了一项立法,被用来对在社交媒体上批评总统马古富力的个人提起刑事指控。

不管政府是禁止公民公开集会、签署请愿书,还是禁止公民接入互联网并在社交媒体上发帖,并没有什么区别。所有这些措施都是为了剥夺公民的权利。第九区表明,为了自由的斗争在数字领域和在公共广场上一样真实。

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