Parliament should urgently enact a law on privacy and data protection to safe-guard citizens’ online freedoms and rights – says the Unwanted Witness report to Ugandan parliament.

Kampala, 13TH/Nov/2014, Unwanted witness Uganda has today presented a report before ICT committee of Uganda parliament urging the government to protect citizens’ online freedoms and rights including the right to privacy. The report highlights key issues affecting citizens’ online freedoms and rights including misuse of personal data, hacking into websites, cyber stocking, secret surveillance and unsolicited messages from business entities.

Considering that the world is living in an information age, privacy is crucial for upholding democracy, freedom and security as well as human dignity. This is emphasized by article 27 of the 1995 Uganda constitution which prohibits interference with any person’s privacy, home, correspondence, communication or other property.  However this provision has over the years been abused without redress largely because of the absence of an enabling legal and policy framework.

Recent state actions such as registering citizens for the national identity cards and SIM card registration before the enactment of a data protection law has caused fear among actors on the likelihood of breaching their privacy.

“The absence of a law protecting personal data in Uganda has facilitated the state and other persons with access to such data including telecommunication companies to misuse personal data where many citizens have lost money or lives.” Says, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness Chief Executive Officer

“We anticipate that as Ugandans prepare for 2016 general elections more citizens are likely to fall prey through the actions of both state and non state actors”, adds Wokulira.

The report also points out that current enacted cyber laws are a big threat to the enjoyment of online freedoms and rights as most of them were enacted to control rather than promoting such freedoms and rights. For instance; section 11 of the Regulations of Interception of communications Act 2010 mandates interception capabilities of telecommunication services and under obligation to handover-collected information to the government among others.

 

The failure of parliament to set control standards on surveillance and data protection, means that all Ugandans shall be endangered species as nobody would be spared by abusers regardless of being a public servant or not.

Unwanted witness therefore recommends that;

  1. Parliament urgently enacts the privacy and data protection law as a measure of safeguarding citizens’ right to privacy as enshrined in Article 27 of the 1995 Uganda constitution.
  2. Establish a privacy and data protection commission charged with handling public grievances and oversee the enforcement of the privacy and data protection law.
  3. Parliament should enact a law regulating collection, processing, storage, use and disclosure of personal information that is in possession of private/business entities.

 

  1. Parliament amends all pieces of legislations that contravene with article 27 of the constitution. These include among others the Regulations of interception of communications act, the computer misuse act and the anti pornography act.

 

Unwanted witness Uganda is a civil society organization that advocates for safe and accessible online platforms for the realization of human rights and good governance in Uganda.

For more information contact;

THE UNWANTED WITNESS – Uganda

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