A planned new law will criminalize Social Media and its users

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A planned new law will criminalize Social Media and its users, Says Unwanted Witness Uganda.

Kampala, 6th/October/2015, Unwanted witness Uganda is concerned by the increasing government interference with online expression platforms with total disregard of fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the 1995 Uganda Constitution. The latest threats are that the government plans to introduce a new law to control the use of Social media platforms. According to sources, the proposal is to be tabled before cabinet by state minister for internal affairs James Baba.

The said regulations once passed into law, will be added to a list of already existing cyber laws that are aiming at curtailing citizens’ enjoyment of online freedoms in the country. The said regulations will not only impend the enjoyment of freedoms of thought, association, assembly, conscience, speech and expression online contrary to article 29 of the 1995 constitution that guarantees citizens’ right to speech and expression, but also provide the various agencies with surveillance powers, screening various activities of their identities, locations and commentators with a desire of preferring criminal charges contrary to Article 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, which states, “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property.

“Uganda is becoming law by rule state with Government concentrating more on controlling citizens’ enjoyment of rights and freedoms including targeting online compared to facilitating the development of the sector. This therefore suggests that government is being threatened by free speech resulting from the increasing use of online platforms by citizens.” Said, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness Chief Executive Officer

 He said this move is aimed at scaring off online users and consequently stifle the growth and development of social Media as expression platforms which lately is being seen as the only independent platform left where citizens can freely express their opinions and views..

In a period of not more than four years, Uganda has enacted several cyber laws including the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, 2010 which grants excessive powers to government to tap any communication contrary to privacy constitutional guarantees and the Computer Misuse Act which has broad definition of a computer among other laws.

Unwanted Witness is concerned that this move is a wastage of public resources as the country has other dire developmental goals.

Unwanted witness therefore respectfully observes and recommends that;

  1. Internet should be left open, accessible and free;
  2. Relevant government institutions should speed up the process of enacting a law that protects the enjoyment of the to privacy and data protection before suggesting other cyber laws.
  3. The government should consult widely on this law to ensure that citizens’ expressed views are incorporated.
  4. Government should desist from wanting to control how citizens should enjoy their fundamental freedoms and rights.

For more information contact;

Plot 41 Gadaffi Road, Makerere- Kampala
P. O. Box 71314 Clock Tower K’la
Telephone: +256 414 697 635
Email:         info@unwantedwitness.or.ug
Website:   www.unwantedwitness.or.ug
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