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Across the world, journalists and fact-checkers have lots at stake while reporting on election integrity and challenges to democracy. Over-regulation of the information space, electoral fraud, surveillance, harassment and intimidation are among the various obstacles to free reporting on these issues.
As we collected updates from around the world for this edition of the Checklist, it was hard to miss a common thread on the challenges that reporters and activists face in reporting on election and state integrity around the world.
In Pakistan, it is the hasty introduction of a slew of bills that will stifle opposing voices, when they come into effect, ahead of a contentious election. Zimbabwe did not clear entry of democracy activists and foreign media representatives to cover the country’s general elections on Wednesday. In Brazil, the Associated Press reported on congressional hearings in which a Brazilian hacker has alleged ex-president Bolsonaro asked him to hack the country’s electoral voting system to show voters that Brazil’s voting system was not reliable. In Egypt where elections are due in early 2024, fact-checker Karim Asaad was arrested and then later released after wide coverage, for reporting about an Egyptian plane seized in Zambia for carrying cash and weapons which involved police and army officers.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share opportunities and events.
If there are updates you would like us to share from your country or region, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Kochi, Bhimtal, Kenya and Porto Alegre
In the run up to the general elections in Pakistan, the government has passed in haste dozens of bills that limit civil liberties, stifle public voices and criticism, and bolster the authority of the military.
The hastily approved cyber laws, include the E-Safety Bill 2023 and the Personal Data Protection Bill 2023 which will have a significant influence on the digital rights of citizens when they fully come into effect. Digital Rights Foundation, a rights-oriented organisation, outlined its apprehensions and recommendations on the data protection bill, which were presented to the government in July 2023. Their concerns included lack of clarity in some passages of the act, specifically, the questionable autonomy of the National Commission for Personal Data Protection since it is appointed by the government, and the requirement that “critical personal data” be localised — stored in servers located in Pakistan — which is understood as regressive given the scale and fluidity of data server operations globally.
Zimbabwe deports activists and several foreign media houses were reportedly denied clearance by Zimbabwean authorities to cover Wednesday’s general elections although no reasons were given.
“We are under strict instructions not to allow certain people into the country and we have a list of such people from various organisations that should not be let in until after the elections. We do not have any reasons but we are just following security orders” — An immigration source.
Brazilian hacker claims Bolsonaro asked him to hack into the voting system ahead of 2022 vote (Associated Press)
During a congressional hearing, Brazilian hacker Walter Delgatti Neto claimed that former President Jair Bolsonaro asked him to hack into the country's electronic voting system to expose vulnerabilities before the 2022 presidential election. Delgatti's detailed testimony, although lacking evidence, accuses Bolsonaro of seeking to compromise the electronic voting system. This new revelation adds to the legal challenges facing Bolsonaro, who has previously questioned the integrity of Brazil's voting system.
He said that after he explained why he could not hack into the electoral system, the Bolsonaro campaign asked him to tamper with a borrowed voting machine to make it appear, less than a month before the election’s first round, that the machine had been successfully hacked and results could be compromised. The fraudulent hack was to be shared with news media, Delgatti said, but it was canceled.
Fact-checking journalist arrested after platform reports on identities of Egyptian nationals on plane carrying cash, weapons seized in Zambia (Mada Masr)
Karim Asaad, a journalist with the Egyptian fact-checking outlet Matsda2sh, was arrested from his home by security personnel. Asaad was released on Sunday. In addition to Asaad’s arrest, the rest of the Matsda2sh team in Egypt have been pursued by security officials since Friday evening due to their coverage of the confiscated Zambia plane, a member of the Matsda2sh editorial team told Mada Masr.
“The mission of our platform has been, and continues to be, to combat the cascade of false or misleading news, to fact-check statements made by government officials, media professionals and public figures, as well as to produce in-depth reporting and open-source investigations.” — Excerpts from Matsda2sh’s statement
Pin Africa launches new e-course on the fundamentals of climate and environmental reporting in Africa
Designing an e-learning course for climate change reporting is part of Pin Africa’s scope of work under Meedan’s Check Global Independent Media Response Fund (IMRF). A call has been launched to join their online course titled “The Fundamentals of Climate & Environmental Reporting” to learn how to tell stories of impact that will help inform Africans about the current realities of the world’s climate conditions. Participants will also have the chance to publish their first climate story to a global audience via Pin Africa.
August 31, 2023
The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) is launching the inaugural Africa Science Journalism Awards (ASJA) to recognize and honor excellent reporting on science and innovation in Africa and also aim to improve and increase coverage of science on the continent.
September 3, 2023
International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is accepting applications from media leaders from across the world to develop innovative ways to use artificial intelligence to fight disinformation and spread trustworthy news
September 19 -22, 2023
2023 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. Join more than 2,000 journalists to attend over 150 expert panels, workshops, and networking sessions.
What else we’re reading
YouTube’s mass takedowns of videos promoting ‘harmful or ineffective’ cancer cures (The Verge)
'If You Don't Wake Up Now...': How fake news stoked fears amid violence in Haryana, India (The Quint)
The year-long fight of a Filipino news site against red-tagging and state censorship (Reuters Institute)
A comparative analysis between the Brazilian Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (The Institute for Technology & Society of Rio)
Telegram used to identify Myanmar junta opponents (The Irrawaddy)
Niger becomes hotbed of disinformation after July 26 coup (Al Jazeera)
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