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Privacy and Data protection bill: activists say no to NITA-U

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Activists under various Civil Society Organisations have unanimously rejected a ‘controversial’ proposal by government to give National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) powers to monitor the citizenry personal data under the new Privacy and Data Protection Bill, 2016.
Once passed the draft bill which is before Parliament, NITA-U would be charged with implementation of the law because the current legal framework gives it the mandate to monitor personal data.
NITA-U is also required to co-ordinate, promote and monitor information technology developments in Uganda within the context of national, social, and economic development, thus regulating collection and procession of personal data.
However, activists who spearheaded the push for the first ever data protection law in the country, used a one-day consultative conference organised by Unwanted Witness-Uganda, Article 19 and Friedrich Elbert Stiftung on Monday at Piato Restaurant in Kampala to reject any proposals to involve NITA-U in the collection and procession of the personal information.
Activists argue that NITA-U is “not independent” because its board is being appointed by the minister in charge of Information Communication Technology and National guidance and the minister is appointed by the “president.”
Secondly, “we are saying no to NITA-U because we cannot allow an internal marriage. NITA-U is established by a law and it cannot oversee the implementation of another law,” Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, Unwanted Witness-Uganda, a civil organisation that deals with digital and online rights said.
Ssebaggala said, “we want this information to be under an independent commission headed by someone who has qualifications of a high court judge in order to oversee the collection of information, how much is this information, how is it supposed to be stored and how people’s information is going to be accessed.”
“What will happen to a critic of the government after when they have your personal information?” Ssebaggala wondered.
Because information is about people’s lives and future, Ssebaggala argued that it ought to be guided by someone who is “professional and independent.”
After harmonizing their views on the bill, civil society organisations would issue a report that incorporates all concerns raised in the consultative conference with a fortnight period before engaging the MPs to consult them on the best modalities of advancing their cause.
Besides local civil society organisations, the consultative conference was graced by privacy and data experts including Henry O. Maina (Article 19 Eastern Africa Director), Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion (Head Advocacy, Privacy International) who presented papers on International Standards for the freedom of expression and fair Information/Data protection practices respectively.
Other presenters were; Peter Magelah, the programme manager chapter 4, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness-Uganda, Dr Kakungulu Mayambala, a law don at Makerere University, Gorret Amuriat, programme manager, Gender and ICT policy Advocacy, and Edrine Wanyama.

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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.

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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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