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Presidential Candidate Mayambala Wants to Send Text Messages to Voters

Presidential candidate Willy Mayambala has said he plans to send Ugandans text messages if he can get their phone numbers of Ugandans from the National Registration and Identification Authority (NIRA) as a means to reach many voters.
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Presidential candidate Willy Mayambala has said he plans to send text messages to Ugandans if he can get their phone numbers from the National Registration and Identification Authority (NIRA).

Mayambala says that this move will not only allow him reach several people in parts of the country that he has not reached, but also help minimize the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a message sent by his campaign team, Mayambala apologized for not going to some districts due to personal challenges. He however hopes that he will use the media to reach some of those places.

Mayambala explains that his next plan is now to get to the data base of NIRA, so he can get the phone numbers of all Ugandans and send the text messages among others to vote him. He says this will help him reach many people faster.

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However, NIRA spokesperson Gilbert Kadilo said that they cannot hand over peoples' telephone numbers even though they do have the data base with numbers.

He says this was against data privacy issues, and also against the background that many people would not want unsolicited for messages jamming their phones all the time.

“It is not possible, we may not help him, but maybe he can see what the telecom companies say,” says Kadilo.

According to the UCC guidelines on provision of text and multimedia messaging in Uganda, service providers shall respect confidentiality of customer’s personal information and shall not sell, distribute or divulge such information to any other party without the explicit consent of the customer, except in circumstances accepted by law.

The only exceptions are when the communications have been initiated by Government for public interest, like communicating diseases, and emergencies among others.

The SMS are usually sent by aggregators who work alongside telecom companies to send the messages.

According to Uganda Communications Commission, since telemarketing was bothering several phone users, the Commission has since then required that all persons engaged in SMS based value-added services, including network operators, SMS application providers, among others ensure that their communication is sent out to only persons that have subscribed for such information. They also require that one can opt-out freely from such messaging.

When contacted, customer care agents at both MTN and Airtel told Uganda Radio Network - URN on phone that it was not possible to send out political messages to vote a candidate, and it is not also possible to give out phone contacts to politicians.

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