SafetyComm Launch

#defyhatenow South Sudan and The National Communication Authority (NCA), on Friday 5th March signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of working together towards combating cybercrimes and abuse faced by citizens in South Sudan. This will be done by providing SafetyComm – a platform that will act as a support system to mitigate harmful content online. 

#defyhatenow’s Director of Programs (L) and NCA Director (R) signing the MOU.

SafetyComm is an online community/platform that provides tools, methodologies and resources for the online safety of social media users and digital natives in South Sudan. The platform was officially launched by the two partners at a press conference held on Friday 5th March in Hai Malakal (#defyhatenow premises). The agreement specifies the different roles the two organisations will play in order to co-manage the SafetyComm community/Platform so that it attains its goals and objectives successfully.

#defyhatenow will actively manage the SafetyComm Community/platform. Defyhatenow shall provide technical training, user education, community experience sharing, rapid response to social media safety incidents, capacity building to various beneficiary stakeholders as well as assist in the creation of public awareness and building of public trust on the SafetyComm initiative in South Sudan.

NCA on the other hand shall continue to be the sole regulator of all forms of telecommunications in South Sudan, and shall equally act as a coordinator of various initiatives related to cyber safety in South Sudan. NCA will, as well, be providing advice and guidance to both government, private sector and ordinary citizens in South Sudan on matters of cyber safety and mitigation of harmful online content in South Sudan. 

In addition to this, NCA shall provide a dedicated toll-free short code, a service SIM Card for use by the SafetyComm Team to receive daily complaints, offer user support and handle online requests for support. 

According to Defyhatenow’s most recent report, South Sudan does not have any laws on cyberbullying and cyber-crimes, however, the penal code has a general outlook that tackles the crimes and there are penalties for such crimes.

Nelson kwaje, the Director of Programs in South Sudan stated that there is increased vulnerability online amongst the South Sudan online community and that among the cases reported in the past month are those of online scams, bullying, revenge porn, and impersonation, among others. Kwaje concluded by stated that many people are suffering in silence which he added, contributes to the scams’ effectiveness. 

“The only reports we hear is when people evade scammers, however when one is scammed it is often not mentioned.” One of the ideas under Safetycomm is to remove this stigma and shame.

While speaking at the press conference the NCA Director, Napoleon Adok said the shortcode will be a direct link between the South Sudan online community and the trained cyber safety technical experts. He added that Safetycomm is the first line of defence and promised that the government would continue to push for the enactment of the necessary cybersecurity laws to be fast-tracked. 

“We have the mandate to protect the public from harmful online exposure. As a new member state, all crimes that have been curtailed in other regions that are more advanced in this sector, are being repeated here. We need an emergency response situation so that people who are facing these challenges can seek help.”

Napoleon Adok also adds that as policymakers, NCA and relevant government institutions will be able to use the statistics from SafetyComm engagements to quantify the magnitude of the situation, so that it guides policymaking as South Sudan awaits the ratification of Data Protection Law/s.