The Ugandan Parliament has passed the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which prescribes tougher penalties for those perpetrating cyber crimes.
The new Bill is an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act, 2011, and aims to strengthen the growing technology sector. Among the regulations in the law is a provision barring sharing of information relating to a child without the consent of a parent or guardian. The bill also seeks to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech as well as unauthorized access to information or data.
In the new regulation, social media is redefined, as the country seeks to create penalties for users who rely on pseudo accounts to spread hate speech, fake news and misinformation.
“A person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information, prohibited under the laws of Uganda or using a disguised or false identity, commits an offence”.
Administrators of social media accounts where such activities are deemed to have happened will be held liable for the commission of the offence, states the Bill.
The proposed law defines social media as “a set of technologies, sites, and practices which are used to share opinions, experiences and perspectives, and includes YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Reddit, Quora, Skype, Microsoft Team and Linkedin”.
The new set of regulations has attracted criticism, with some MPs terming them unconstitutional.
MP Gorreth Namugga opined that “The entire bill should not be left to stand as part of our laws as all the clauses are already catered for in existing legislation and in some instances offends the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; the fundamental rights to access information electronically and to express oneself over computer networks are utterly risked by this bill.”