Category Archives: Net Neutrality

Administrative crackdown on a Net Neutrality Seminar


Family photosFriday, August 8, 2014 at about 1:15 pm Cameroon time a wagon of top level cops heavily armed, jumped into the Ayaba Banquet hall to stop a seminar on the theme: Promoting Net Neutrality through Multi Stakeholder capacity Building and Dialogue.  To my greatest surprise, after the first training session, a host of police officers moved into the hall asking my colleague and I to follow them to the station for some administrative fixes. This is the first time since 2008 we are facing invisible walls in the field.

They were acting in accordance to a prefectoral order demanding the suspension of the event after complaints from the regional delegate of post and telecommunication qualifying the event as a high security risk.

After about five hours of a loaded police interrogation on the issue, we were released from the Bamenda (I) central police station immediately the investigator gave his report to station chief, a five star top level police commissioner.

At the end of the day, no one could demonstrate how risky the seminar was and why it was to be suspended without any notice from the competent authorities.

An anonymous cop disclosed his disagreement on the action and blamed it to external manipulation from some civil servants. He said “such regrettable incidents have been happening for some time now and will be difficult to eradicate because the police is subject to the executive”. He further advised us to always sort out “technical issues” with those concerned before carrying out such activities for the powers they have can be used at their discretion.

Talks with the regional delegation of post and telecommunication

An assistant to the regional delegate of post and telecommunications, Mr Apa, who was asked to supervise the suspension, advised us to reorganize the seminar in a later date and promised to assist in his own capacity.

Call for action

Dear reader, we invite to show your support for this project geared at promoting freedom of expression in Cameroon. by “liking ” our Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/NetNogCm

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Promoting Net Neutrality through multi stakeholder capacity building and dialogue


Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

A capacity building seminar was organized in Douala-Cameroon on the 18th of July 2014 at hotel Lewat by I-Vission International with the theme: Promoting Net Neutrality through multi stakeholder capacity building and dialogue.  A multi stakeholder discussion  was also conducted to get the opinions of the different actors present on the challenges faced in Cameroon and how to influence policy in the interest of everyone. Georges Ndenga, a senior journalist with CRTV (Cameroon radio and Television Corporation) moderated the discussion.

Forty two participants were trained on the concept of Net Neutrality including its historical background, how to detect abuse, its importance and impact if not maintained.

These participants came from different social sectors including government ranks, civil society, the private sector and the media. They all came with different expectations on the issue of Net Neutrality as a concept and as a social challenge in Cameroon. Most of the trainees focused more on cyber crime which is just one of the consequences of Net Neutrality abuse. Excel Asama and SAME Grace explained the concept and explored the different forms of abuse noticed in recent years through PowerPoint presentations and live demonstration on the Internet.

Almost all the participants made known to the project team that they were ignorant of the concept and especially the different forms of abuse by some Internet Service Providers and Governments. At the end of the training, they actually understood what has been happening in their networks, what their rights are and how to detect and report any form of abuse using online open source tools. Web tools from the Glasnost Measurement Lab were used as a case study to measure the performance and transparency of the network. Our aim was to verify any form of network probing or shaping and application blocking.

We carried out the following test:

  • P2P applications blocking: BitTorrent, emule, Gnutella
  • Standard apps: Email (POP), Email ‘IMAP4) http transfer, SSH transfer
  • Video on demand: Flash video (YouTube)

At the time of the test, we did not notice any form of traffic shaping in the selected network.

About Glasnost Measurement Lab

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet.

When an Internet application doesn’t work as expected, how can you tell whether the problem is caused by your connection, the application or something else? It can be very difficult for professional network administrators, let alone average Internet users, to answer this sort of question today. Transparency has always been an essential component of the Internet’s success, and Internet users deserve to be well-informed about the performance of their broadband connections. For that to happen, researchers need resources to develop new analytical tools.

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet. As a consortium of research, industry, and public interest partners, M-Lab is dedicated to providing an ecosystem for the open, verifiable measurement of global network performance. Real science requires verifiable processes, and     M-Lab welcomes scientific collaboration and scrutiny.

Source http://www.measurementlab.net/

 Output of the training

  • Forty two (42) participants acquired new skills in the concept of net neutrality; What it is all about, what the law says, how to detect abuse and report back
  • Participants expressed their support for the initiative and promised to translate the skills acquired in their various institutions.
  • Twenty five (25) participants signed the partnership convention with us to support and participate in Net Neutrality Observatory Group (NetNOG)
  • Government, ISP, Civil Society and Internet Users sat on the same table to discuss issues on Net Neutrality for the very first time in Cameroon

Excel Asama saluted the presence of the following stakeholders:

  • The Regional Delegate of the Post and Telecommuiation Mr Mohamadou Bassirou for his perpetual support and concern in the development of ICTs in Cameroon. He reiterated his support for ICT initiatives and the commitment of government to become a hub in the central Africa zone. More than 12000km fiber optic backbone cable network has been installed nationwide, an Internet Exchange point is currently being set up in Caltel Bepanda, Legistaltions are operating in the ICT sector in Cameroon.  In  a few words, Mr Mohamadou Bassirou encouraged Internet Service Providers to respect and observe Net Neutrality in Cameroon.
  • Marc Ngiamba, project manager of ici.cm platform, ISP and
  • Madam Alloumeck Christelle, representing the Regulatory board and the long list of civil society organizations who actively took part in the multi stakeholder discussion.

Challenges faced

  • Due to the heavy rainfall on the event day, we could not reach the expected number of participants in the seminar.
  • It took us about eight days to get authorization from government to organize the event due to controversies surrounding the and lack of information at the local level on the importance of maintaining net neutrality. The local authorities were wondering the kind of reaction to get from Yaounde if such a meeting is authorized. At the end of the day, we had to lobby to get the meeting declared.

Perspectives

  • Discuss and apply for a partnership possibility with the Glasnost Measurement Lab to set up a server in Cameroon to measure and report net neutrality abuse incidents.
  • Mobilize more funds sensitizing at the national level

Other activities executed as of now

 The web platform is effectively operational, with 1193 visits at the time of this report.

  • Online campaign platform setup. We designed an email mailing list made up of 1750 subscribers through MailChimp for Weekly Newsletters and articles on the project. The Facebook page and twitter hashtag for the project are functional. We will gear up from the 8th of August when the last capacity building seminar will be organized. At that time, the Net Work Observatory Group must have been set up with clear goals and roles to play by individual members.

A capacity building seminar was organized in Douala-Cameroon on the 18th of July 2014 at hotel Lewat by I-Vission International with the theme: Promoting Net Neutrality through multi stakeholder capacity building and dialogue.  A multi stakeholder discussion  was also conducted to get the opinions of the different actors present on the challenges faced in Cameroon and how to influence policy in the interest of everyone. Georges Ndenga, a senior journalist with CRTV (Cameroon radio and Television Corporation) moderated the discussion.

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