Cyber abuse should not kill on and offline rights

By  Solomon Lubambula

It would be quite sad for you to wake up one morning to be a washed with nude photos of a sister like Desire Luzinda all-over the social media networks. This was the unfortunate scenario for the singer, the family and even those close to her.

This act is called Revenge Porn, which means the publication of nude pictures of an individual without their consent.  Revenge Porn is becoming a global issue ruining people’s lives especially women. The photos are usually uploaded by ex-partners to shame or embarrass the pictured individual. Some countries have passed laws against revenge porn including Israel, Germany, and twelve states within the United States.

But as the saying goes every cloud has a silver lining, now people that have embraced the new Information Communication Technologies (ICT) do not have to learn a hard way.  Yes it is true that everyone has a right to internet and at the same time a right to privacy, but again the freedoms and rights should be exercised with responsibility.  This is because one’s freedoms and rights should be exercised within the confines of the legal framework.

For instance Franklin Emuobor the ex- boyfriend to Desire Luzinda is alleged to have posted the nude photos on Facebook , the post says “to teach her a lesson”. But he should have considered Desire’s right to privacy, and also the Penal Code Act Cap 120, the Anti-pornography Act, computer misuse among other laws.

The controversy surrounding the enactment of these laws is a debate for another day but the fact that they are in our law books; they ought to be followed until successfully challenged. Now in this case Franklin violated the above mentioned laws and also abused his girlfriend’s right to privacy that is if at all we are to go by the media reports that he is responsible for the pictures that went viral.  Actually this would justify the actions by the Ethics Minister and police to enforce the law.

Experts on social media time and again have warned that there are no stringent safeguards for the users of these platforms; something that authorities in the communication sector need to ponder about.

This should also act as serious warning to the users of Facebook, twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms not to recklessly post personal information because this can be misused.

The Program officer at Unwanted Witness Uganda, Godfrey Twesigye says social media network should not be a washed with such private personal information. Twesigye adds that it can be dangerous to put very sensitive personal information on social media because you cannot retrieve it thereafter.

 “Even if you do not have anything to hide do not unnecessarily post personal information on these platforms”- Twesigye warns

By the way from Desire’s scenario many young people around town have since then decided to delete the nude photos and videos on their smart phones, Tablets and other ICT gadgets in order to avoid falling victim of similar circumstances. Meanwhile there people who are so confident and think they have acquired advanced IT skills making them smart because they can engage  complicated passwords in their ICT gadgets, but with the technological advances in this digital age, there many hackers who can easily go round the passwords and access  someone’s  information. So people should take advantage of Desire’s painful lesson and avoid a repeat of the gruesome incident.

The protection against cyber harassment and promotion of cyber civil rights is very significant because this would curb the risks of physical attacks, offline stalking and emotional harm.

Policymakers and duty bearers in the communication sector are now reminded to raise awareness and educate the public on the nature and prevalence of online abuse, a recommendation justified with this recent case.

Therefore as the police investigate case involving Desire, there other lessons we (as a country) should draw from this case. And accordingly change the way we use these new (ICT) technologies for the betterment of our lives without undermining people’s rights.