By Kato Mivule | March 30, 2009
This month saw a number of I.T related events in Uganda that will have an impact on Uganda’s I.T industry in the future. From the launching of Orange Telecom, MTN Mobile Banking, exporting of Uganda’s I.T ‘Know How’, and the growing opposition to the Phone Tapping Bill. Uganda’s I.T development is accelerating at a pace faster than both locals and politicians can handle.
However, the Phone Tapping bill tends to pour cold water on all these monumental developments if the current bill in its form is passed as law in Uganda. The Information Technology infrastructure will only serve to the meet the needs of ‘the powers that be’ rather than serve Ugandan locals.
Information Technology is rapidly changing the way of life and business in Uganda especially when it comes to voicing opinion and is one reason why the government of Uganda is pushing the unpopular ‘phone tapping’ bill so as to control progress in the I.T sector before it is too late.
However, the Ugandan Government is coming in too late and the speed at which I.T infrastructure development is progressing in Uganda is beyond the ‘policy net’ that the Ugandan government is trying to set up.
This is good news for the locals in a sense that the Ugandan government has no capacity to control new technology from the populace in fear that opposing politicians will borrow a leaf from US President Obama and his campaign in the use of Technology.
Rather than go the Obama way to enhance technology positively, the Ugandan government seeks to employ Chinese tactics in controlling what the general populace can access.
The passing of the Phone Tapping Bill is going to be an ongoing legal battle. Information Technology is to become part and parcel of any legal proceedings in Uganda… The protection of such an infrastructure from ‘Big Brother’ is in the interest of Lawyers, Human Rights Activist, and any God fearing person… “A lawyers’ body has added its voice to the growing opposition to a proposed new law that would legalise phone-tapping by security agencies. The Uganda Law Society, which has a membership of more than 1,200 lawyers spread across the country, says phone-tapping is unconstitutional.”
Lawyers oppose phone tapping Bill
Daily Monitor | March 7, 2009 |Mercy Nalugo
The point is that locals do not trust the Ugandan Government with their privacy and for historical reasons. Ugandans have endured abuse from Governments meant to protect them but instead turn to witch-hunt, harass, and torment any who offer opposing views.
Uganda’s Telecom Governing Body, the Uganda Communications Commission has voiced its opposition to the bill… If the bill is passed as law, the constitutional court will get involved as the bill contradicts the Ugandan Constitution.
UCC not consulted on phone tapping Bill
Daily Monitor | March 26, 2009 |Mercy Nalugo
The proposed Phone Tapping Bill hit yet another snag yesterday when officials from the national communications regulator told parliamentarians that it is in conflict with several sections of already existing laws governing operations in the sector. The Uganda Communications Commissions officials also revealed that the body was not consulted during the drafting of the Bill, further raising questions about the motives of the brains behind it. The UCC becomes the latest organisation, after the Uganda Law Society, a section of MPs, telecommunication service providers, and human rights groups like the Human Rights Network (Hurinet), which have strongly opposed the enactment of the Bill into law.
Human Rights groups have voiced their fears that the Bill would give powers to the government with leverage of abuse. This is not far fetched as it may sound. The outcry from the Human Rights body is based of the current government and its history of Human Rights abuse.
How can they be trusted with Powers to virtually control communication and the privacy of Ugandans? If the Ugandan Government has not respected the individual rights of Ugandans before the advent of the current Information Technology infrastructure, how can they be trusted now with powers to listen in on every one’s call, read everyone’s emails, and know everyone’s movements?
“…Appearing before the same committee, the Human Rights Network requested powers of the minister to intercept communications be shifted to the courts of law, adding that the minister could abuse the powers…The Uganda Journalist Association officials argued that the Bill, if not amended, would remove the confidentiality of their sources contrary to the Media Act.”
However, Ugandan Government officials are trying to use fear mongering and playing the 9-11 card in snatching away the right to privacy for Ugandans. However, such arguments have been fearlessly fought against in the USA and not even President Obama can make the argument that he will Phone Tap because of 9-11…
ICT minister backs phone tapping |New Vision |March 26, 2009
“The Government has been tapping phones, but now wants to make a law. The opposition should actually applaud the Government for the development,” Awori added. The minister said even the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre in the US occurred partly as a result of not having a law on phone tapping. Awori said the American government, even after knowing about the attack, could not stop it since they did not have such a law.
There is no doubt that criminals exist and that government has to do its part in protecting her citizens. However, there are no studies or even reports that when governments wire tap phones, criminality rescinds, or terrorists stop their attacks.
Wire Taping does not stop any criminal activity and neither is it a hindrance. For the most part criminals go ‘low tech’ and communicate without the dependence on phones.
Secondly, there might be cases when government will need to wiretap and monitor any cyber criminal activity. However, in such cases the government should seek a court order to gain a warrant and government should be forced to account for its warrant activities to avoid any illegal actions like listening in on people’s private conversations.
Rather than deliberate on how to Phone Tap conversations and read people’s emails, Uganda’s legislative body would better serve their constituents by protecting people’s privacy while enhancing Cyber Security in Uganda and heavily holding Uganda’s government to account in the process.