KAMPALA — City lawyer Ivan Bwowe has petitioned High Court in Kampala protesting a plot by Uganda Communications commission (UCC) requiring all persons providing online data communication to regularize their operations before use.
I’m his petition filed before the Civil Division of High Court, Bwowe was Court quash UCC directive on grounds that it is illegal and an abuse of the law.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on 7 September issued a public notice stating that anyone wishing to publish information online must be licensed ahead of a 5 October deadline.
The UCC in their directive cited Section 27 of the 2013 Uganda Communications Act, among others, which prohibits broadcasting content without a broadcasting licence.
The commission also noted that, in accordance with the UCC Act and regulations, it is mandated to license, regulate and set standards for provision of all communication services including radio communication and online broadcasting in the country.
But Mr. Bwowe says that the UCC directive has grave consequences as it aims at limiting and penalizing the use of social media accounts and limiting the exercise of constitutional rights especially freedom of expression.
“The public notice has grave consequences as it seems to limit and penalize the use of our social media accounts but also limiting the exercise of our Constitutional rights of freedom of expression, privacy and civic rights and activities”, reads the petition in part.
He also argues that he is aware that UCC doesn’t have the mandate to regulate social media companies many of which hold accounts and can’t limit the content posted there provided the content satisfies the community rules and standards of the respective social media platforms.
Bwowe who has individually drafted and filed his case now wants Court to quash the said notice and restrain UCC plus State institutions from arresting, fining, or prosecuting any person basing on the contested notice.
UCC is yet to be summoned to file its defense before the matter can be allocated to a Judge to fix it for hearing.
Early this week, Amnesty International slammed Ugandan authorities over a plot to register online sites and bloggers — describing the development as a latest blow to the right to freedom of expression ahead of 2021 elections
With restrictions on public gatherings already in place, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa castigated Ugandan authorities for shutting off a vital channel for people to express their political opinions and share critical information about COVID-19.
Muchena said Freedom of expression does not need a license.