Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Proposed Amendments to Computer Act Duplicating Existing Laws- Activists :: Uganda Radionetwork
The activists also argue that the proposed amendments duplicate other laws like the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act.
The activists also observe that the proposed amendments duplicate other laws like the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act.
A section of human rights activists have asked Parliament’s committee on
Information, Communication and Technology to reject the proposed amendments to
the Computer Misuse Act, and instead, push for enforcement of the existing laws.
The activists also argue that the proposed amendments duplicate other laws like
the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Interception of Communications
MPs sitting on the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) committee
are currently considering proposed amendments to the Act tabled before
Parliament by Kampala Central MP, Muhammad Nsereko.
In the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Nsereko seeks to prohibit sharing
of any information relating to a child without authorization from a parent or
guardian, prohibit sending or sharing information that promotes hate speech,
sharing false, malicious and unsolicited information.
He proposed that those found guilty and convicted be barred from holding public
office for 10 years. Nsereko seeks to amend Section 12 of the Computer Misuse
Act to criminalize hacking of another person’s electronic device and publishing
information obtained therefrom.
He proposed that a person who, without authorization accesses another person’s
data or information, voice or video records another person and shares
information that relates to another person commits an offence.
Nsereko proposed a 15 million Shillings fine or 7 years’ imprisonment or both.
The same punishment is proposed for sharing unsolicited, malicious and
misleading information and a person who shares information through a computer
relating to a child without authorization from a parent or guardian.
The Bill also proposes an offence for hate speech saying that a person shall
not write, send or share the information which is likely to ridicule, degrade or
demean another person, tribe, religion or gender.
However, officials from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East
and Southern Africa (CIPESA) say that the proposed Bill greatly undermines the
enjoyment of digital rights and freedoms including freedom of expression and
access to information.
“The Bill prohibits the sending or sharing of unsolicited information through a
computer. Unfortunately, the definitions of ‘unsolicited’ and ‘solicited’ are
not provided. This presents uncertainties as to the scope of and meaning of
unsolicited information,” said Edrine Wanyama the CIPESA legal officer.
He told MPs
that without a clear definition of the two, it can unduly limit information
access and sharing and free expression.
information coming into possession of an individual or entity could potentially
be categorized as solicited or unsolicited, clause 5 could be misused and
abused by the government and its agencies to curtail sharing and dissemination
of information, which would limit freedom of expression and access to information,”
He recommended that the clause on unsolicited information is deleted in the
Bill or in the alternative, a clear definition and scope of the terms
‘unsolicited’ and ‘solicited’ should be provided.
notes that the provision on sharing malicious or misleading information
undermines freedom of expression and access to information.
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The MPs also learnt that the proposals in the Bill duplicate the Interception
of Communication Act and the Data Protection and Privacy Act.
“They could potentially cause conflicts in enforcement if enacted. The
information and date which the Bill related to is already protected by the
Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, 2010 which prohibits the
unlawful interception of communications,” Wanyama observed.
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Nalwoga, the Programmes Manager at CIPESA says that if Parliament is to make
amendments to the Computer Misuse Act, it needs to comprehensively review of
the current laws and ascertain whether they adequately provide solutions to the
challenges or not.
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Michael Aboneka, a lawyer with Thomas and Michael Advocates, also observed that
the proposed amendments duplicate already existing laws.
He said that
laws like the Constitution, the Human Rights Enforcement Act, 2019, the
Children Act, Penal Code Act, Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019 and the
Regulation of Interception of Communications Act effectively cover what is
proposed in the Bill.
He said that government needs to focus on implementing these existing laws and
also repeal laws that do not conform to human rights standards.
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Aboneka queried the proposed provision on hate speech questioning who will
determine the nature and magnitude of hate speech and what would happen if the
accused person is not in possession of a computer at the time information was
The lawyer says that the proposed law does not cure anything.