A number of Ugandan social media users could soon find themselves coughing a fine of Shs15m, going to jail for seven years or being subjected to both if proposals in the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill being pushed by Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko are passed.
The proposed bill seeks to prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian.
It also seeks to to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech as well as to provide for the prohibition of sending or sharing false, malicious and unsolicited information.
He is concerned that the enjoyment of the right to privacy is being affected by the abuse of online and social media platforms through the sharing of unsolicited, false, malicious, hateful and unwarranted information.
“Regrettably, some of these abuses have also stretched to children where information about or that relates to them is shared on social media platforms without their parents’ or guardians’ consent,” he further argues.
He also wants Section 12 of the current Computer Misuse Act amended to criminalise hacking of another person’s electronic device and publishes information obtained from there.
Clause 2 of the bill being proposed by Nsereko reads, thus: “A person who, without authorisation,(a) accesses or intercepts any programme or another person’s data or information; (b) voice or video records another person; or (c) shares any information about or that relates to another person, commits an offence.”
On July 19, Nsereko tabled the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill for first reading, detailing the offences for Ugandan social media users who flout provisions in his proposed piece of legislation.
The punishments include long jail terms and huge fines. Nsereko wants any person convicted of any offence under the Computer Misuse Act, 2011, to be barred from holding public office for a period of 10 years.
The Kampala Central MP wants those who flout provisions to be fined Shs15 or be sent to jail where they will spend seven years, or be subjected to both punishments.
These offences include transmission of information about children. According to Clause 3 of the bill, “a person shall not send, share or transmit any information about or relating to a child through a computer unless the person obtains consent of the child’s parent, guardian or any other person having authority to make decisions on behalf of the child.”
The same applies to the offence of hate speech. According to Nsereko, “A person shall not write, send or share any information through a computer, which is likely to- (a) ridicule, degrade or demean another person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; (b) create divisions among persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; or(c) promote hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender.”
The same Shs15m fine and seven-year jail term will also apply to those convicted of sharing of unsolicited information, of malicious or misleading information.
Presiding Speaker Anita Annet Among has sent the Bill to the Committee on Information and Communications Technology for scrutiny.
It should be remembered that months ago, legal rebel Isaac Ssemakadde ‘undressed’ his former teacher MP Nsereko on Live TV, saying it was his right to call the Kampala Central MP a fool. (Read Story Here).