Uganda is tightening rules on online publishing ahead of the country’s upcoming 2021 elections.
Under the new rules, internet publishers will be required to seek authorization from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to broadcast any information over the internet.
The new regulations apply but are not limited to blogs, online television, radios, online newspapers, audio over Internet Protocol (AoIP), Internet Portal TV, Video on Demand digital audio radios and television, internet/ web radio, and internet/web television.
“If your social media page is used to transmitting sound, video or data … you need authorisation as a data communicator,” the regulator wrote in a statement.
Backing their new tight laws, the UCC cites sections of the constitution that prohibit broadcasting without a license.
Uganda already prohibits public gatherings for electoral purposes. The only remaining channel for people to express their political opinion was online.
The new laws are viewed as an assault to freedom of expression and communication.
“Freedom of expression does not need a license,” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, told Capital.
“These vague regulations will turn social media into minefield, with users likely to find themselves on the wrong side of the law and may face prosecution simply for expressing their views,” Muchena added.
Bloggers and broadcasters have been given up to October 5 to seek the necessary licenses.