Are Ugandan citizens’ rights online becoming more restricted?
Recent legislation has potentially infringed upon the online rights of millions of internet users in Uganda. Are Ugandan citizens’ rights online restricted and how will new legislation be enforced?
This year, new laws have allowed Ugandan state agencies to interfere more with individuals’ rights. Civil society actors fighting to uphold these rights are also in the crosshairs. Legislation targets both online and offline means of communication. The four laws that directly relate to online rights address pornography, public order, homosexuality, and journalism.
A brief from CIPESA (The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa) covers online freedoms in the country and how civil society has been affected by the aforementioned legislative changes. The advocacy group is concerned that the new legislation, “without national data protection legislation, and limited judicial oversight” could easily trample citizens’ rights. Moreover, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2010 allows individual communication to be intercepted with a court order. Also worrisome is a mandatory SIM registration completed last year has made digital monitoring easier.
Anti-Pornography Act 2014
- criticized as a violation of adult users’ rights to access information
- ISPs are required to install software to block access to pornography which violates principles of net neutrality
- instead, ISPs should implement restrictions to user freedom after judicial intervention or if illegal content is hosted on their networks
- pornography published to the public should still be a liability, however
Public Order Management Act 2013
- does not protect rights of the media (including bloggers) to report on public assemblies
Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014
- promotion of homosexuality (including by electronic device) is outlawed
- could be used to crack down on organizational or gay/lesbian websites
- limits the ability of adult consenting homosexuals to use mobile phones (since making dates is often done online or via mobile)
Press and Journalist Regulation, 2014
- certification fees seem to violate the right to freedom of the press as listed in the Constitution
- journalists deemed critical of the government could be denied a license