We welcome government’s efforts that promote and protect Internet freedoms not controls, says the Unwanted Witness Uganda
Kampala, 11th/03/2016; the Unwanted Witness Uganda welcomes government’s initiated bill on social media but warns that the law must be in conformity with the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, regional and international human rights laws to which Uganda is a signatory.
On Wednesday 9th March 2016, Attorney General Fred Ruhindi tabled a new Bill titled: The Uganda Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to give the executive arm of government outright powers to control communications in any way the sector minister deems fit. The bill seeks to remove the legal requirement of parliamentary approval under the 2013 regulations of the Uganda Communication Commission Regulatory Act.
Article 29 (1a) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and the media.
Such amendments are coming at a time when in 2014, the Uganda Communication Commission opened a media monitoring center with “digital logger surveillance equipment”, which caused the signing of a secret Memorandum of Understanding between UCC and Uganda Police Force to cooperate more closely on the investigation of crimes online.
Recognizing the importance of the Internet around the globe, Internet based frontiers have provided new voices on new frontiers without borders hence helping to transform societies. In Uganda, over seven (7) millions Ugandans use Internet everyday to change their lives in terms of employment or increasing their participation in governance issues among others
The Unwanted Witness however questions the motive behind this bill at this material time as for the last six months some ruling party members have been calling for stringent controls over social media while others soon after elections, have been calling for total shutdown of the Internet.
“The Internet platforms currently are the remaining independent dashboard of ideas where citizens express their opinions or thought freely thus, supporting any move by the government intended to make internet accessible, make such platforms more stronger and independent” Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, the Unwanted Witness said.
He however said, with a number of cyber laws in Uganda that await to be amended to meet internationally acceptance human rights standards, there was no need for a new law specially targeting social media platforms.
We shall analyze the bill, carryout awareness campaigns on the implications of the bill and engage with Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament for possible reforms.
The Unwanted Witness therefore calls upon the 9th Parliament to widely consult Ugandans in order for the new law to have expressed views of the citizens.
Also, to consider enacting the Privacy and Data Protection draft bill into law before their tenure ends to protect citizens’ personal data from misuse.
Finally, to bridge the rural-urban digital divide through connecting rural areas and strengthening the national backbone
For More Information contact;
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