Digitization — the widespread use of linked digital technology and services by individuals, businesses, and governments — has been gaining traction throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the past decade. Although digitization holds the potential for rich rewards, it also brings with it significant risks from an ever-evolving range of cyber threats perpetrated by cybercriminals, nation-states, and cyber hacktivists.
Some of the Middle Eastern and North African countries are now embroiled in conflicts and political turbulences that take a toll on their economies, social structures, and political systems. The Internet has been and continues to be one of the most critical engines and tools for the crystallization of political situations.
According to the latest World Bank figures, individuals who utilize the Internet account for 71.759 % of the population in the MENA Region
Governments in the MENA region have moved to shut down the Internet by enacting severe and repressive cybercrime legislation. Governments all around the region are participating in the closing of the civic spaces. and fervently drafting legislation that essentially deprives internet users of their fundamental human rights
The MENA region is one of the world’s most dangerous places for human rights defenders, civic activists, and journalists according to Civicus Monitor. As a result, activists would frequently find themselves in high-risk situations, both physically and digitally. Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa within its digital security pillar contributes to the cyber education and awareness building to protect activists and Human Rights defenders through capacity-building initiatives, including specialized digital security programs, curriculums, and pieces of training that were developed to address abuses of these activists’ rights and freedoms, as well as the closing of civic spaces where they may continue to operate.
I4C MENA launched Aman Raqmy 101, a free course on its AmanRaqmy.org platform as part of its work on digital security and freedoms in the region. Following a month-long campaign to raise awareness of digital security threats, the Innovation for Change (I4C) MENA Hub created an online interactive quiz in Arabic to help journalists, human rights defenders, and civic actors assess their digital security status, which was followed by a series of educative videos about digital threats and how to overcome those threats as well as resources to help people protect their digital assets and maintain the privacy of their online identities. The digital security course was directed to activists, civil society activists, women human rights defenders, and journalists, as well as the Arabic-speaking public,
The course consists of a series of videos divided into several sections (operating systems, how the Internet works, e-mail, metadata). The videos are interspersed with short tests to assess how familiar a person is with the material and content that they watched, with those who pass all of the course axes receiving a course completion certificate from the Innovation for Change Network.
It is worth noting that this course is part of the Hub’s larger regional digital security program where over 1022 beneficiaries were trained on digital security including 280 journalists and 742 human rights defenders.