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Internet activists urge Parliament to pass Private and Data Protection Bill

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Internet activists urge Parliament to pass Private and Data Protection Bill

By Witness Radio team

Internet rights activists in the country have weighed in to call for an urgent passage of the Privacy and Data Protection Bill, 2015 into law, to protect citizens’ “personal information” being targeted by both “security apparatus and regulatory bodies.”

In an October 3 432-word press statement, Unwanted Witness-Uganda, a civil organisation that advocates for an open, free and secure internet which also spearheads the push for the enaction of the Private and Data law, is concerned about the “trend” in Uganda of targeting citizens’ data to compromise their “privacy”

“The Unwanted Witness-Uganda is worried about the current trend that exhibits big appetite for collecting personal information of citizens and secret spying on the activities of citizens without being guided by the legal framework,” Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, Unwanted Witness-Uganda said in a statement.

The Unwanted Witness’s worry came barely two days after the Government through the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (ICT) launched the first ever free internet for Kampala and Entebbe.

The launched internet under the code name MYUG is being managed by National Information and Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U), which by law is mandated to retain metadata (details of communication users for both voice and data, and to access it, requires one to fill in a form which technically picks personal information.

This information ranges from the users’; name, mobile phone number, date of birth, gender, and email address, among others.

However, this process according to Ssebaggala, is undue, affirming that a genuine internet only requires one to possess a password to access it.

“A genuine internet should only require a password or a pass code for one to connect as opposed to the rigorous process to access MYUG.” Ssebaggala said.

CCTV CAMERAS

Government’s new initiative regarding the provision of free internet to Ugandans living in the selected areas of Kampala and Entebbe came barely one week, after the same government through police proclaimed its plan to install spy cameras in all urban areas and on highways which would cost Shs 3bn, according to the local press.

It’s on against this background that Ssebaggala questions the motive behind the coincidence of two mega rare projects in Uganda and without a legal framework to regulate the operations of the systems.

“We believe that the government bears a responsibility to maintain security of the country, but it must come with transparency and accountability on protecting people’s right to privacy,” the digital rights chief said.

He stressed that citizens should be part of the process to secure the country and therefore see reasons for installing spy cameras by security agencies or providing much personal information with no hidden intentions to connect to MYUG free internet.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In the statement the Unwanted Witness-Uganda made four recommendations to the government which are;

  1. Parliament should urgently pass the much awaited Privacy and Data Protection Bill,2015 into law to protect the citizens’ personal data and privacy
  2. Citizens should take security precaution measures while connecting the newly launched MYUG internet
  • The government through NITA-U should modify and limit on details demanded from users before connecting to MYUG internet
  1. Police should publicly share the guidelines on SPY cameras to control misuse or harassment of government critics.

 

 

 

 

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Technology

Google Internet project closes in Uganda.

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Uganda will be among the 10 African countries that will lose out as Google winds up its Internet Balloon Project. 

The closure follows an announcement in which Google said the project was “an unsustainable business model”.

In 2019, Loon LLC, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, signed a Letter of Agreement in Kampala with officials from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, in which high altitude solar powered Internet balloons with floating masts over Uganda’s airspace, would be established at an altitude of 500,000 feet.

The balloons would create an aerial wireless network to provide Internet and telecom network connectivity to rural and remote areas.

Dr Anna Prouse, the Loon LLC head of government relations, had said then that Google would partner with telecoms to tap into their technology to allow connectivity.

However, Alastair Westgarth, the team lead of the project, last week announced in a statement the project would be closed.

“We talk a lot about connecting the next billion users, but the reality is Loon has been chasing the hardest problem of all in connectivity – the last billion users: The communities in areas are too difficult or remote to reach, or the areas where delivering service with existing technologies is just too expensive for everyday people,” he said.

While Loon had found a number of willing partners along the way, he said, they had not found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business.

“Developing radical new technology is inherently risky. I am sad to share that Loon will be winding down,” he said.

Loon had had similar arrangements in Botswana, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Mozambique and Kenya, but are expected to close as well.

The Loon project was expected to be a game changer in Uganda’s telecomm sector through enhancing connectivity in remote areas, and contributing to the development of the national backbone infrastructure project.

The demand for Internet among Ugandans has grown exponentially in the recent past with Covid-19 being a serious catalyst.

Internet status  

A UCC report published recently indicated telecom and Internet service providers registered an increase in demand for data in the third quarter of 2020 with more than 20 million subscriptions – nearly 50 per cent of the population being connected.

The growth was mainly attributed to the shifting work culture driven by Covid-19, which led many businesses to adopt remote working methods.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Human Rights Lawyer Nicholas Opiyo is out on bail…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Kampala – Uganda Human Rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has been granted bail pending trial in regard to accusations of money laundering.

Justice Jane Okuo of the Anti-corruption Court has on December, 30th, 2020 ordered for the release of Mr. Opiyo on bail but ordered him to deposit cash of Shs15m in the bank.

The court also ordered Mr. Opiyo to deposit his passport in court to restrict his movements out of the country and each of the four sureties were bonded at Shs100m, not cash.

Justice Okuo ruled that Mr. Opiyo has a legal right to bail based on the presumption of innocence.

His lawyers, David Mpanga, Robert Mackay, and Elison Karuhanga argued that Mr. Opiyo is a lawyer in courts of law, a human rights international award winner with substantial sureties.

They said that Mr. Opiyo knows his obligations to bail.

Mr. Opiyo appeared before the High Court judge by way of a video conference at Buganda Road, hardly a week after a lower court remanded him until January 11, next year.

Mr. Opiyo, the executive director of Chapter Four Uganda was arrested last week from a city restaurant and detained at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. He was charged with money laundering, a charge that can only be heard by the High Court judge.

Mr. Opiyo was abducted alongside two members of Witness Radio – Uganda legal team Esomu Simon Peter Obure and Anthony Odur. Others were Herbert Dakasi and Hamid Tenywa who were later granted a police bond on December, 24th, 2020.

The prosecution alleges that Mr. Opiyo on October 8, 2020, at ABSA Bank Garden City Branch, in Kampala District acquired $340,000 (about Shs1.2 billion) through ABSA Bank account No.6004078045 in the names of Chapter Four Uganda, knowing at the time of receipt that the said funds were proceeds of crime.

Opiyo is the lawyer representing two NGOs including the Uganda National NGO Forum and Uganda Women’s Network whose accounts were recently frozen by the Financial Intelligence Authority over alleged involvement in moving money to finance terrorism activities.

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Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo denied bail, remanded again…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Buganda Road court on Monday remanded human rights lawyer Mr. Nicholas Opiyo to Kitalya prison till January 11, 2021.
Opiyo was arrested last week on Tuesday and detained at Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. He was charged with money laundering.
Mr. Opiyo on Monday appeared before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates court through video conferencing where the case was read to him.

The Chief Magistrate, Mr. Moses Mabende however denied him bail arguing that he has no jurisdiction to hear his case.

The magistrate said the charges against Opiyo who is the executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, can only be heard by the High Court.

He sent him back to Kitalya prison till January 11, 2021, to come for mentioning of the case.

“The accused can apply for bail in the High Court on Wednesday because the case is before Justice Jane Kajuba at the anti-corruption high court,” the Magistrate said.

The other four suspects, who included lawyers Herbert Dakasi, Esomu Obure, Anthony Odur, and Human Rights officer, Hamid Tenywa were given police bonds last Thursday.

The prosecution alleges that Mr. Opiyo on October 8, 2020, at ABSA Bank Garden City Branch, in Kampala District acquired $340,000 (about Shs1.2 billion) through ABSA Bank account No.6004078045 in the names of Chapter Four Uganda, knowing at the time of receipt that the said funds were proceeds of crime.

Opiyo is the lawyer representing two NGOs including the Uganda National NGO Forum and the Uganda Women’s Network whose accounts were recently frozen by the Financial Intelligence Authority over alleged involvement in moving money to finance terrorism activities.

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