For Immediate release
Kampala, 17th/January/2014; the right to privacy and internet freedom are facing enormous (growing) threats as Ugandan government starts to import surveillance equipment and setting up internet monitoring units among the various security agencies; according to the Unwanted Witness Report.
The report indicates that the State House Entebbe was the first to be equipped with surveillance equipment with capabilities of undertaking surveillance on over ten mobile phone subscribers at ago.
“It irritates to witness the diminishing of the enjoyments of human rights in Uganda. The trends we are taking as a country is to obstruct and control the enjoyments of these rights and freedoms. Offline rights and freedoms are the causality of the day including assembly, expression and association having been excessively limited and now internet freedoms are being targeted” Said Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness Chief Executive Officer
The research which was carried out from November 2013 to January 2014 to understand online threats and risks faced by Human rights Defenders, Netizen, Bloggers, journalists, artists and poets among other internet users, indicates that Internet monitoring units have been established in major security agencies including the Uganda Police Force, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and State House among others.
The report under the title “THE INTERNET; THEY ARE COMING FOR IT TOO” released in Kampala as part of activities to commemorate the Internet Freedom Day, 2014, which is held on the 18th January every year worldwide, expressed fears that as government moves to undertake systematic surveillance, the majority of internet users especially Human Rights Defenders and bloggers are un-ware of their being spied on by the government, they lack capacity to protect themselves while online and who to hold accountable for such actions; and many noted that they were never consulted during the legislative processes of laws on enacted to regulate internet activities.
The report noted that in the bid to regulate activities in the cyber space the government enacted more than five (5) legislations in a period of less than four years including; the Computer Misuse Act, Electronic Signatures Act, Uganda Communications Act, Regulation to Interception of Communications’ Act, and Electronic Transactions Act among others. However, there’s a fear that the legal framework was drafted to undertake and strengthen the control over the internet other than facilitating the enjoyment of freedoms of expression, speech, association, assembly and access to information online which rights are not only guaranteed by the 1995 constitution of the republic of Uganda but also provided under various international human rights instruments to which Uganda is party to.
The Unwanted Witness therefore recommends that;
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