#rp24 speaker Mercy Mutemi: Shaping Africa's Digital Future through Litigation

08.05.2024 - The advocate is heavily invested in pursuing fairer internet and technology policy through litigation.
Mercy trägt kinnlange Haare, ein pinkes Oberteil und eine schwarze Weste

Big Tech's involvement in Africa at the moment is reminiscent of a colonial period. This is seen in the way content moderation is carried out on local social media platforms and the export of inferior and dangerous algorithms to the continent, as was seen in Ethiopia.

According to advocate Mercy Mutemi, this has to change: Failure to adequately invest in both content moderation and the optimization of algorithms leads to unprecedented harm. At re:publica 24, we will discuss some of the important cases that are currently in court to challenge Big Tech's lack of care for African users and African communities.

Mercy Mutemi is the Managing Partner at Nzili & Sumbi Advocates and dedicated to taking on cases that shape our digital future. She is the lead advocate in a case challenging the Facebook algorithm for prioritising dangerous and inciteful content and for being discriminatory against African users. At the same time, she is litigating three labour rights cases by Facebook and TikTok Content Moderators who suffered mental health harm from doing content moderation work. Her vision is to fight for fair and responsible roll out of technology in African countries.

She is currently litigating a case asking the courts to declare access to the Internet a basic right in Kenya. She is also committed towards upholding freedom of expression online through litigation. Mercy is currently in court challenging the Fake News offences in the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act which have been used to shrink civic participation by arresting dissenting voices. She represents local and international media houses who have been sued for publishing investigative pieces exposing violation of human rights. She was featured as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya and honoured by the Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 Next Emerging Leaders.

At #rp24, we look forward to learning more about Mercy’s and others’ inspiring cases on the African continent and how they will help reshape the direction of our digital future.


#WhoCares: An interview with Mercy Mutemi.

The Motto of re:publica 24 is „Who Cares?“. What or whom are you currently investing your care in?

Micro workers doing AI labelling and annotation work.

What do we as a society fail to care enough about?

The African youth on whose broken backs and brains Big Tech is built. 

Has anyone, any movement, or any institution caught your attention by their commitment to a particular cause? Or maybe a book, article, podcast, etc., has inspired you recently?

The microworkers doing AI work in Kenya have come together to advocate for better working conditions. This was purely grassroot effort and I am keen to support them whichever way they need. 

At re:publica: What topics will you be discussing at re:publica, or what are you presently dedicating your research or efforts to?

Content moderation. Forcing Big Tech to care about the algorithms they subject African users to.