KAMPALA — Ugandan authorities have written to Facebook and Google asking them to immediately shutdown pro-Bobi Wine social media pages, —claiming that the online outlets mobilized riots that resulted into the death of more than 50 people and left several injured last month.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), a government body that regulates media sector, in a letter listed over 14 Facebook pages and YouTube cchannelsincluding TMO online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel Ug, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Ghetto TV, Busesa Media Updates and Uganda Empya.
Others are Map Mediya TV, KK Tv, Ekyooto TV, Namungo Media, JB Muwonge 2, Bobi wine 2021.
UCC claims that these channels contain extremist or anarchic messages including messages likely to incite violence against sections of the public on account of their tribe and political opinions.
The UCC, in there letter said these channels may compromise national security and cause economic sabotage.
The government through UCC has no control and cannot censor the content posted by YouTubers in Uganda and thus cannot regulate it or even block it.
However, it wants the listed channels, that it found guilty of giving live coverage to opposition persons on the campaign trails blocked from YouTube.
UCC recently requested all bloggers who broadcast on any social media channel to register with it, but this never made sense to most bloggers since UCC doesn’t control or have any powers to regulate the likes of Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
UCC says they were moved to write to Google after receiving complaints from stakeholders including the Minister of Internal Affairs who chairs the National Security Council, the Uganda Police Force and also observing that communication services, platforms and networks, including YouTube are being used to publish, disseminate, and/or broadcast content that, contrary to Uganda Communications Act of 2013 and Regulation 8 (2) of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulation 2019.
According to government, said channels misrepresent information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead the public.
“Contains extremist or anarchic messages, including messages likely to incite violence against sections of the public on account of their tribe and political opinions. May compromise national security and cause economic sabotage,” reads part of the December 9, 2020 UCC letter to Google.
The letter adds: “Wherefore as the regulator of the communications sector in Uganda and in accordance with section 5 (1) (b), (j), (x), 6 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the commission hereby implores Google to block access to the following YouTube accounts.”
In addition, UCC wants Google to immediately stop aiding and abetting any further breach of the regulatory and penal laws of Uganda through its communication platforms.
“To review and revise YouTube operations to ensure that it is not used to circumvent the legal and regulatory requirements of Republic of Uganda.
UCC also wants Google to ensure that all content broadcast to Uganda through YouTube’s applications and services strictly complies with Uganda’s Minimum Broadcasting Standards as enshrined in the Act.
The letter comes days after government directed all journalists to register with Uganda Media Council a move that has been protested by media practitioners in the country.
Police said journalists without accreditation from the council would not be allowed to cover political events.
“Those with Uganda Media Council accreditation will be treated as wel wishers,” police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga said.
This is not the first time UCC is approaching a tech giant to block Ugandan based channels, in the past, they tried to reach Facebook to remove accounts based on similar claims but Facebook rejected the request.