The UW News-brief: Government should expedite the enactment of a privacy and data protection law to protect consumers` privacy rights

Kampala, 14th /March/2014; The Unwanted Witness – Uganda (UW-U) joins other stakeholders working on consumer rights in the telecommunications industry/ sector in Uganda to demand for the speedy enactment of a privacy and data protection law .

UW-U a campaign based organization that advocates for the right to privacy; digital rights and internet freedoms in Uganda has joined other consumer rights groups in Uganda in commemoration of the World Consumer Rights Day that is held every year on the 15th day of March to ask the government of Uganda through the ministry of ICT to urgently work towards the enactment and passing of a privacy and data protection law.

“This is a critical moment for the protection of consumers` rights to privacy in Uganda,” said G. W. Ssebaggala Chief Executive Officer the Unwanted Witness.

 “We call upon all telecommunication companies and service providers including content providers to respect and protect the consumers’ right to privacy and to take measures to put an end to violations of other consumers’ rights especially misusing consumers’ personal data.”

Ssebaggala further notes that Consumers of telecommunication services in Uganda are currently facing a number of challenges including but not limited to poor quality of services, abuse of consumers` rights especially the right to privacy and protection of personal data or information.

The right to privacy is part of the basic fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1995 constitution as inherent and not state given. Specifically article 27 (2) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that no person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property. This right also accrues to a consumer of telecommunication services as outlined in the consumers` rights by the Uganda Communications Commission to telecom service providers. UCC placed a confidentiality requirement on service providers/ operators to ensure and maintain confidentiality of the content of all communications, whether data or any information that the service provider/ operator my obtain as a result of serving a customer without its written consent.

The purpose of the guarantee is to protect personal safety and security of the individual. That purpose extends to the protection of individual concerns and security to the person of every Ugandan.

The Unwanted Witness together with the necessary and proportionate coalition share the belief that telecommunication companies are in serious breach of their duty of confidentiality; and have failed to guarantee the respect and protection of the right to privacy by implementing data protection policies hence passing on consumers` information to third parties.

The Unwanted witness thus recommends the following;

1.      Government should accelerate the legislative processes for the enactment of a Privacy and Data protection law;

2.      Parliament should accelerate the passing of the Consumer Protection Regulations developed by the Uganda Communications Commission

3.      Uganda Communications Commission should enforce its regulatory function over telecommunication companies to prohibit them from passing on phone users` data/ information to politicians which they use in electioneering and business persons for unsolicited campaigns as well as private persons as evidence in courts of law in breach of the consumers` right to privacy;

4.      Telecommunication companies should strictly implement their internal privacy and data protection policies including controlling and regulating whoever has access to it;

5.      All telecommunication service providers and content providers should recognize and respect consumers` rights and especially the right to privacy;

Thank you