New Report on Online Engagement in Ethiopia Published

In collaboration with Addis Ababa University, and with the support of a tremendous team of researchers, PCMLP is pleased to launch the first report of a series looking at online engagement and hate speech in Ethiopia. The team, led by Dr Iginio Gagliardone, has been testing innovative methods to understand how Ethiopians in Ethiopia and the diaspora are using social media to talk about politics, religion, and ethnicity.

The results, which largely focus on interactions on Facebook, are particularly important given the limited availability of systematic research on social media use in Africa. They also suggest how, despite the limited penetration and polarization that has characterized the media in Ethiopia, social media seems to have offered new opportunities for engagement and experimentation.
This first report only offers a preliminary analysis of the initial results, and the two following reports will look more in depth at the debates before and after the 2015 elections and at prevalent forms of communication in the Ethiopian online sphere.

Conference on “Arcs in Internet Regulation: Assessing New Directions” on November 23rd and 24th in Oxford

Tencent               Oxford                   Stanford               Peking


We are pleased to announce that the University of Oxford will be hosting the forthcoming conference on “Arcs in Internet Regulation: Assessing New Directions” on November 23rd and 24th in Oxford.  This is part of the annual Peking-Oxford-Stanford series in Internet Law and Policy. This conference builds on previous annual events and focuses on significant issues in Internet law and policy that will require attention in the coming years, such as digital human rights, smart cities, new technologies and courts, and Internet governance and development.

The conference draws primarily on the strengths of the three universities involved, and their networks, bringing together a unique collection of scholars and students, government officials, corporate executives, and civil society representatives with the goal of informing research and strengthening the understanding of alternative viewpoints with a focus on the US, Europe and China, as well as global challenges

This is an extraordinary opportunity to debate and discuss the future of the Internet. The Conference is hosted by the University of Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy in the Faculty of Law’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, with generous support from Tencent.

The first day of the event (November 23rd) is open to all upon registration, although space is limited.  We are delighted to invite all delegates to enjoy lunch with us in an Oxford college and join us for a reception at one of Oxford’s most distinguished venues after the event.

Day two (November 24th) is structured in a round-table format and space is limited to invited participants. Closer to the date we may be able to accommodate a few additional participants, so please do signal your interest if you would like to attend the second day as well.

A full agenda will be posted shortly. An assortment of our confirmed speakers include:

Bei Zhang (DIDI)

Bennett Freeman (GNI)

Brent Irvin (Tencent)

Cai Xiongshan (Tencent)

Daphne Keller (Stanford University)

Ebele Okobi (Facebook)

Guy Berger (UNESCO)

Iginio Gagliardone (University of Oxford)

Jacob Rowbotton (University of Oxford)

Janine Aron (University of Oxford)

Jason Si (Tencent)

Jianzhong Shi (China University of Political Science and Law)

Jonathan Bright (University of Oxford)

Jonathan Mayer (Stanford University)

Liming Wang (Renmin University)

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette (Stanford University)

Luciano Floridi (University of Oxford)

Mark Stephens (Howard Kennedy)

Ming Yang (Peking University)

Mingde Li (China Academy of Social Sciences)

Monroe Price (University of Pennsylvania/ University of Oxford)

Nicole Stremlau (University of Oxford)

Paolo Cavaliere (University of Edinburgh)

Paul Goldstein (Stanford University)

Philip R. Malone (Stanford University)

Ping Zhang (Peking University)

Rebecca MacKinnon (Ranking Digital Rights)

Richard Danbury (University of Cambridge)

Shouwen Zhang (Peking University)

Steve Crown (Microsoft)

Timothy Garton Ash (University of Oxford)

Yong Huang (University of International Business and Economics, China)

Xixin Wang (Peking University)

To register for the first day of the conference on November 23rd, please fill out the registration form using the tab at the top of this page.

We look forward to welcoming you at the University of Oxford in November.

Registration Form
Fields marked with an * are required

This workshop builds on the previous annual events and focuses on significant issues on Internet law and policy that will require attention over the next several years. The workshop brings together a collection of scholars and students, government officials, corporate executives, and civil society with the goal to inform research and strengthen understanding of alternative viewpoints with a focus on the US, Europe and China, as well as global challenges. The Conference is hosted by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, with generous support from Tencent.

Monday and Tuesday, 23-24 November 2015

University of Oxford


Monday, 23 November 2015 – Open to the Public upon Registration

Magdalen College Lecture Theatre

08:30 – 09:00 Registration
09:00 – 9:30 Welcome and introductions
09:30 – 10:45 Panel 1: The Internet, Quality of Life and the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda
10:45 – 11:00 Coffee and Tea
11:00 – 12:45 Panel 2: Exploring Models of Innovation-driven Development: Internet + Smart Cities
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:30 Panel 3: New Trends in Digital Rights
15:30 – 15:45 Coffee and Tea
15:45 – 17:00 Panel 4: The Right to be Forgotten
17:00 – 18:00 Keynote Public Lecture: Brent Irvin, General Counsel of Tencent
18.30 – 19.15 Reception
 Tuesday, 24 November 2015, 09:30 – 17:30 – For Invited Guests

 Rhodes House

08:30 – 09:00 Registration
09:00 – 10:30 Round Table Discussion 1: The Foreign Policies of Internet Governance
10:30 – 10:45 Coffee and Tea
10:45 – 12:30 Round Table Discussion 2: Challenges of Regulating and Identifying Hate Speech
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 15:00 Round Table Discussion 3: Innovations in Commerce and Cybercrime
15:00 – 15:15 Coffee and Tea
15:15 – 17:00 Round Table Discussion 4: New Technologies and Courts
17:00 – 17:30 Concluding Remarks

For further details and queries about the conference please contact Danit Gal at

Stremlau, Gagliardone and Fantini Publish in Third World Quarterly

Nicole Stremlau, Emanuele Fantini and Iginio Gagliardone have recently published Patronage, Politics and Performance: Radio Call-in Programmes and the Myth of Accountability in the leading journal, Third World Quarterly. This article draws on extensive research in the Somali Territories.  Free download of this article available for a limited time.

An abstract follows:

The role of media in promoting political accountability and citizen participation is a central issue in governance debates. Drawing on research into the interactions between radio station owners, journalists, audiences and public authorities during Somali radio call-in programmes we argue that these programmes do not simply offer a new platform for citizens to challenge those who are governing but that they are also spaces where existing power structures reproduce themselves in new forms. We identify the ways the programmes are structured and the different motivations the audience has for participation. Three types of programmes are identified and their relationships with patronage, politics, and performance are examined. Rather than focusing on normative assumptions about the media as a tool of accountability, the article emphasises the importance of understanding radio programmes in their social and political environment, including the overlapping relationships between on-air and off-air networks.


Registration for the Price Moot Court is Now Open

We are delighted to announce the 2015-16 mooting calendar. We have an exciting series of Regional Rounds lined up – from South Asia to South East Europe.  This year’s case addresses challenging and contemporary issues of online hate speech.  Full details of the programme and information about registration can be found the on the Price Moot Court website.  We look forward to seeing you soon!


New UNESCO Study on Countering Online Hatespeech

UNESCO has just launched a study on Countering Online Hate Speech we have been working on in the past few months by Iginio Gagliardone (in collaboration with Danit Gal, Thiago Alves, and Gabriela Martinez) which offers a global overview of the dynamics characterizing hate speech online and some of the measures that have been adopted to counteract and mitigate it. While the study provides a comprehensive analysis of the international, regional and national normative frameworks developed to address hate speech online, and their repercussions for freedom of expression, it places particular emphasis on social and non-regulatory mechanisms that can help to counter the production, dissemination and impact of hateful messages online.

Four main areas of tension arising between the international standards aimed to regulate freedom of expression and the obligations of states and societies to counter or limit hate speech are addressed in the study. It analyses, first, the definition of the hate speech; second, the jurisdiction of the national governments and the role of transnational companies; third, the character of hate speech online and its relation to offline speech and action; and fourth, it identifies a variety of methods that have been used to address specific and contextual problems.

The study focuses on four types of initiatives that have been launched to counteract the emergence and/or the spreading of hateful messages: i) research efforts to monitor how hate speech online emerges and spreads, developing early warning systems and methods to distinguish among different typologies of speech acts; ii) coordinated actions by members of the civil society seeking to create national and international coalitions to address emergent threats connecting online hatred and violence offline; iii) initiatives to encourage social networking platforms and Internet Service Providers to play a more robust role in actively responding to hate speech online; and iv) media literacy campaigns and initiatives aimed at preparing users to interpret and react to hateful messages. Building on these cases the study provided for a set of recommendations that can be adopted by a variety of stakeholders to develop practical and tailored responses.

New Report with Chatham House Published on Cyber Security in Eastern Africa

This paper analyzes continuities and discontinuities of collective efforts toward enhanced cyber security in Eastern Africa, with a particular focus on Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Focusing on the challenges that have followed the contours of East Africa’s distinctive digital cultures, it challenges the view that cyber security and cyber resilience are simply technical problems that can be solved by reducing the gap with more technically advanced nations. On the contrary, it shows how cyber security is an inherently political challenge and that, in the absence of adequate checks and balances, the increasing securitization of domestic and international politics may require costly trade-offs with individual and collective freedoms.
Three concepts are suggested — emulation, extraversion and enculturation — that can serve to better capture how Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have respectively answered emerging cyber threats. These concepts, rather than adding to the already abundant jargon in this area, are simply meant to encourage analysts to pay greater attention to how the technical, social and political interact in unique ways and produce distinctive outcomes in each national context. In Kenya, public and private actors have sought to live up to international standards, keeping up with the country’s reputation as a regional information and communication technology (ICT) powerhouse, but it is unclear how such an ambitious agenda will find concrete applications. In Ethiopia, there is the risk that the need to guarantee better cyber security can further legitimize repressive measures in the new media sector. Finally, in Somalia, in the absence of a functioning state, hybrid solutions have been found that connect traditional practices and new technologies to offer some level of certainty to individuals using services that are vital for the region, such as local and international payments over mobile phones.


Webcasts of the ICT4D Seminar Series now available

We had a terrific line up of speakers for our Hilary Term ICT4D seminar series, organized in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute and the Department of International Development. We are delighted that all of the webcasts are now available online for those of you that were not able to attend. Please check them out here:

About the ICT 4 D Seminar Series:

This seminar series gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on the influence of new communication technologies on development processes. The seminars will focus on the dramatic changes in citizens’ ability to coordinate and mobilize for political action, on global migration and its relation to digital media, and on how international and national actors are seeking to shape the applications of technology and communication. The series provides a focus point for academics and non-academics in Oxford who are interested in the challenges and opportunities of employing new communication technologies in development contexts.

The series is organized by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), the Department of International Development (ODID) and the Technology & Management for Development Centre (TMD) at the University of Oxford, and co-convened by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and Dr Mark Graham.

Iginio Gagliardone publishes in New Media and Society

Iginio Gagliardone’s new article in New Media & Society charts new ways to understand the relationship between new communication technologies and governance in Africa. It explains how the ‘liberation technology’ agenda that has dominated most debates on the transformative power of new technologies has failed to take into account the variety of actors and networks that intervene in shaping governance processes in Africa, alongside or in competition with the state. Through an ethnography of two local radio stations in Kenya, his article offers a more realistic picture of mobile–radio interactions and their repercussions on governance. The findings illustrate that (1) while these interactive spaces are open to all listeners with access to a phone, they are in practice inhabited by small cohorts of recurrent characters often connected to existing power structures; (2) even in places where basic services are offered by actors other than the state, including non-governmental organizations and criminal networks, the state continues to represent the imagined figure to which listeners address most of their demands; (3) in contrast to the expectations that authorities will act on claims and grievances made public through the media, other factors, including ethnicity, intervene in facilitating or preventing action.

The article can be accessed at

The University of the Philippines wins the 2015 International Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court

The 8th annual International Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition saw the team from the Philippines earn the overall winner title after a strong final match against the team from Singapore Management University. The two teams had faced Florida International University, USA and National Law University, Jodhpur, India respectively in the semi-finals.

In addition to the best memorials and top oralist prizes, the Price Moot presented this year’s Jonathan Blake Spirit of the Competition Award to Zeina Ayyad and Wafaa Saadeh from Birzeit University, Palestine for their outstanding performance in the Middle East Regional Rounds.

To read more about the 2015 International Rounds (including the events and workshops that took place alongside the competition) and to view the full results, please visit this page.

Latest updates on the Media, Conflict and Democratization project

For the latest information on the EU FP7 project on Media, Conflict and Democratization (MeCoDEM) check out the MeCoDEM website. Research emerging from this project will be posted here, along with events and other resources.  PCMLP is pleased to be leading Work Package 6 on Government Communication and directing the Kenya country team research.  Further information can be found here: