IGF 2021 – Day 1 – Lightning Talk #74 Introducing RIPOTI Platform and AYETA Toolkit

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> BULANDA NKHOWANI: Okay.  My colleague is here now.  Hi, Ekai.  We will just go ahead and get started. 

So good morning, everyone.  It's morning on my end.  A warm welcome to our Lightning Talk on RIPOTI and Ayeta.  I have my colleague to support me.  I am the problem officer for Southern Africa while Ekai is the program officer for East Africa. 

So this morning, we will be taking you through tools that are aimed at combating some of the violations we have been seeing on the continent and of course providing digital security. 

So as you can see, I have pasted some links, so as I speak or towards the end, please feel free to access them and use them accordingly. 

Please let me just present my presentation.  Okay.  There we go. 

Yes, as I speak, please feel free to access the links, the platforms, or even after the session.  I hope that you can see my presentation. 

So to start off, so this is a Lightning Talk on impact that is developed on RIPOTI and Ayeta. 

Okay.  So Ayeta is a Digital Security Toolkit.  It was developed by Paradigm Initiative, of course, with the support of other partners.  I will try to keep this very brief, considering it is a lightning talk.  But basically, Ayeta is a toolkit that was developed as a response to provide the necessary tools and information that are required for digital security.  So it's a proactive toolkit for digital rights actors.  It helps all of us to stay safe and secure as we use the Internet. 

It was built by Paradigm Initiative, but of course, with the support of other partners.  But also, the main aim of this toolkit is to address the growing need to safeguard rights defenders, journalists, whistleblowers, and others that are working with sensitive information.  But of course, any other Internet user can access and use this toolkit. 

And also this toolkit is what we like to call a living resource.  We know that digital security is not static.  It's an area that is constantly changing.  So we are also committed to adapting it and improving upon it almost every year.  And of course, with the links that I have shared, you are welcome to contribute to this resource.  But also from this toolkit, we have been able to develop a game that we have named DigitalSafeTea.  With this game, one is able to play it then sort of assess their digital security weaknesses, their needs, and areas they need to improve upon. 

A quick look at the toolkit.  So it's divided into several chapters.  It gives a brief background, of course, into digital rights, so that's Basics of digital rights 101, into some concepts of digital rights, what are some of the main digital security actors.  What are some of the relevant digital rights events that one can get engaged in?  And several case studies, model policy briefs, and statements.  So this is in case you, as a digital rights defender, you stumble upon Ayeta and you would like to get involved in digital rights advocacy. 

But of course, the main part is the second chapter, which really breaks down the different digital security threats and how to mitigate them.  So it's from very basic things, like how do you create a strong password, to more advanced in terms of how to encrypt your data.  You know, data journalist who is working on sensitive information, how do you avoid surveillance?  How do you navigate an Internet shutdown?  How do you use a secure VPN?  And so on and so forth. 

It also goes on to speak about physical security.  As you know, digital security extends to physical security, so how do we physically secure our gadgets and devices and so on and so forth? 

And of course, it ends with a section that's dedicated to Internet shutdowns for the very simple reason that we have seen an increase in Internet shutdowns, especially in Africa.  You know, how do you get involved in that advocacy?  How do you measure an Internet shutdown, or how do you contribute to that? 

So I pasted those links.  You can access Ayeta on that link.  You can also play the DigitalSafeTea game, and I also went on to include some of the digital rights reports that will be very helpful in terms of understanding the extent of digital rights violations in Africa currently and why the need for such toolkits that mitigate these violations. 

So the second toolkit that I will speak to is RIPOTI.  So RIPOTI, first of all, is a Swahili word that means to report.  So most dialects that are very similar to Swahili in Africa, when you say RIPOTI, will immediately attach it to the word "report."  So in creating this platform, we really wanted to have a unique name that celebrates our African languages but also one that is very easily understandable.  So with digital rights violations on the rise and on the increase in Africa, as Paradigm Initiative wanted to design a platform that enables stakeholders and the public to report digital rights violations.  So initially, you know, yes, we know digital rights violations have been on the increase, but before this, we didn't really have that tool or platform that we could use to document, first of all, to have people report violations, and then to document them.  So now that we have RIPOTI, this is possible.  So it's really a platform that enables stakeholders and the public to report digital rights violations.  It's accessible to everyone, so whether you are in the digital rights circles or an ordinary Internet user, it's really a resource for everybody.  And more so, it's an online platform, and that makes it very collaborative in terms of we are able to collaborate with different partners across different regions in addressing digital rights violations. 

So how it works is that once a report is made, it's received on the back end by Paradigm Initiative, who verify to see if, indeed, that event has happened or, indeed, that report is genuine.  And then it is passed on to the ‑‑ so we have different committees, again, on the back end.  And also just to mention that all information that is provided on this platform is treated with the utmost confidentiality.  So all identities will be concealed.  And then also maybe just to speak into some of the digital rights violations that can be reported.  So it's from issues of censorship, cyberbullying, online gender‑based violence, illegal access to user information, content abuse.  So even on censorship, if you experience an Internet shutdown in your region, you can log on to RIPOTI.Africa and report it, and we can investigate it on our end.  The beauty of it is you are able to see the number of reports that have been made, which regions they are coming from.  You are able to identify trends in terms of which region is receiving the most violations; what are some of the most prevalent violations, what sort of types.  This also, I mentioned earlier, has been good for documentation and research purposes in terms of informing the extent of digital rights violations or the prevalence, but also in crafting solutions and advocacy around mitigating digital rights violations. 

So what happens on the back end, when the report is received, of course, it's assigned to different committees.  You know, based on their stakeholder strength, that are able to then provide the necessary justice. 

Also just to mention that until the these committees, they are not just made up of Paradigm Initiative.  It's different stakeholders, and as you notice there, I will paste some links after, but different organizations are welcome to sign up to be part of these different committees.  We didn't want it to be a Paradigm Initiative‑only activity, but we extended it further.  So we have a steering committee.  This is made up of program officers from Paradigm Initiative that work in collaboration with dedicated officers from partner organizations, so really give the second assessment of the violations.  They give feedback to the reporter if possible.  Of course, this is done through the case manager, who is based at Paradigm Initiative.  But overall, again, the role of this steering committee is that they provide leadership into how this platform will evolve going forward, and of course, management of the day‑to‑day that is involved in the platform. 

We also have the other committee, which is the committee that is in charge of solving these cases.  So we have also made provision.  So within this case resolutions committee, we have different clusters.  If it's a digital security issue, we have organizations that may assist in that area.  We have, you know, women's rights activists.  We have digital rights defenders.  And different other experts.  We have also made provision for escalation, so at the national level, you know, you can escalate to different Human Rights Commissions within the regions, but also at a regional level escalation to the Africa Commission on Human and People's Rights. 

Maybe just a bit more into who is within the different committees, just in case you are thinking where do I fit in, because like I mentioned earlier, we would want this platform to be as collaborative as possible.  So really, we are seeking partners that want to join either of the committees.  You know, what is your stakeholder strength?  How do you see yourself contributing?  So really, we are looking for different experts.  Could be an advocacy organization, you know, human rights organizations, digital rights experts, such as lawyers for strategic litigation.  Of course, I mentioned the national Human Rights Commissions, and so on and so forth. 

So in a nutshell, that is it about RIPOTI and Ayeta.  I will attempt to play a video.  But before that, I don't know if we have any questions.  We can take questions now, and then I will play a video based on RIPOTI in the remaining time that we have. 

Any questions so far? 

Please feel free to unmute, any questions based on the two toolkits that I have presented this morning. 

Ekai, any contributions?  Okay.  I will play the video.  Please, if you have any questions, post them in the Chat, or we can take them up. 

(Video not audible)


>> BULANDA NKHOWANI: Okay.  So that was a brief video on how to make a report.  I don't see any questions in the Chat, but please, if you would like to ask or make a contribution, kindly unmute and speak up. 

>> EKAI NAMBENYO: Hi, Bulanda.  As we wait for participants to make mare comments and questions, I just want to make some additions in regards to what Bulanda, my colleague, has presented.  To say that RIPOTI and Ayeta, you know, toolkits which have been developed by Paradigm Initiative and its partners, and also to mention that in addition to this existing as a PDF document, this has also been translated into various languages, and we currently have a partnership with a partner in Uganda who are localized in this particular document into a language in Ghana, and we also do the same in Swahili and other languages in Africa, so the information available in the Ayeta document is also accessible to those whose language is a language other than English.  So that is in tandem with our initiative as Paradigm Initiative to reach out to as many people as possible in the continent.  And most interestingly is that the Ayeta game, which you can, you know, get through the Ayeta website, webpage.  So you can play a game, which kind of tests your knowledge about digital rights.  And it's a very interesting game which, of course, as we mentioned before, but you know, just to emphasize that you could actually try it in your free time at the Internet Governance Forum.  And it's a very interesting one that we think, you know, will make the language of the Ayeta toolkit common instead of just being that of those who occupy the digital rights space. 

That was just a few words to add, but good work by my colleague, Bulanda.  Thumbs up.  I think we now open the floor to our our colleagues, maybe suggestions for betterment of the future, or maybe you have a better idea on Ayeta toolkit or reporting, you are welcome to make contributions.  So over to you.

>> BULANDA NKHOWANI: Thank you so much, Ekai, especially for mentioning that these are available in different languages, for example, French and Swahili, and there are more plans to expand into different other languages. 

I still don't see any hand raised or any questions.  I take it that it's been clear, but in the meantime, with the time left, let's take a look at reports. 

(Video not audible)

>> BULANDA NKHOWANI: Okay.  What measures have been made to sustain this great initiative beyond Africa? 

So it's really made to be a platform that addresses digital violations in Africa. 

Let me just stop that. 

Yeah, so it's really to address violations on the African continent, but beyond Africa, of course, we have made partnerships through the different committees that I mentioned, so we have partnerships with other digital rights organizations, and of course, other relevant stakeholders beyond the continent that are able to provide the sort of justice that is needed, depending on the digital rights violation.  So the partnerships that are there, of course, on the back end, in terms of ‑‑ so that's the case resolutions committee, so not so much the steering committee.  So the steering committee for now is solely African, but case resolutions is much wider because we do recognize that violations, you know, affect everybody.  You know, it's beyond regions.  So that's why we thought to extend that case resolutions committee beyond just the African continent.  But for now it's a tool that is meant to serve the African continent, but really, no plans as of now in terms of expanding it beyond its current scope.  So I hope I have answered you, Mark.  Thank you so much for that question.  I don't know, Jesse, do you have any questions for us? 

Okay.  If no further questions, just to thank everyone for making it this morning.  Please, I have pasted the links.  Remember to interact with the different tools.  Remember to share within your networks, your friends.  Very, very useful tools, Ayeta for digital security.  Could be an expert, but very good for refreshing your memory.  If you do spot something that needs updating, please reach out.  Like  please share this widely with your networks so we can document all these violations that are happening and get a better understanding of what's going on over time.  So once again, on behalf of Ekai and I, thank you so much for attending our Lightning Talk and enjoy the rest of the day and the rest of the sessions.  Thank you so much.