News Brief

New Egypt CyberLaw Adds to the Growing List of Social Media Regulations this Summer

Various African governments have been adding cyberlaws this summer triggering discussions about the threat to free speech online.

Teju Cole once said that twitter is an African city, and various governments continue to take this to new levels from social media taxes to more surveillance.

On Sunday, a new law regulating social media use was passed by two-thirds of the MPs in Egypt's parliament and has now been sent to President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi for his approval. The law states that social media users with more than 5000 followers will be under the supervision of Egypt's Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media. Since the law applies to blogs and websites, social media users with thousands of followers will be regulated as media outlets.

The BBC reports that the council will have the power to block websites and file criminal charges against platforms and individuals accused of "inciting people to violate laws" and "defamation against individuals and religions".


Governments have been cracking down on social media use for years now, but in these last few months we have seen another surge of politicians shamelessly blaming social media for political conflicts as justification for more online surveillance. In Uganda, President Museveni claimed that a social media tax would help the country's debt and regulate gossip causing public backlash. In Cameroon, the prime minister Mr. Philemon blamed social media and the diaspora for "hate speech" and "ordering murders."

While humor has been a large response on twitter to these policies, it's worth tracking these regulations as more governments take stronger measures against social media "dissent."

In the case of Egypt, this new law is raising fear about what other regulations might be put in place against critiques of the president and the government.



Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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