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Nsereko seeks tough penalties in new law on social media usage

Nsereko said Ugandan’s privacy rights are affected by bellicose messages on social media which violation he said extends to children and has to be curbed.

Kampala Central MP Hon. Muhammad Nsereko (Photo/File)

Ugandans who violate the privacy of others, or smudge their reputation, online will not be eligible to hold public office or stand for election if convicted under provisions of a proposed law tabled in Parliament yesterday.

Titled The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the object of the Bill tabled by Kampala Central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko, is to “enhance the provisions on unauthorised access to information or data; to prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian; [and] to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech”.

Nsereko said Ugandan’s privacy rights are affected by bellicose messages on social media which violation he said extends to children and has to be curbed.
“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,” said Nsereko.

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Clause 2 of the Bill seeks to amend section 12 of the Computer Misuse Act to criminalise hacking of another person’s electronic device and publishes information obtained therefrom.
“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,” reads Clause 2.

Nsereko prescribes a Shs15 million, seven years in jail or both such imprisonment and fine.

Sharing of information on children without the consent of persons responsible for them will be an offence if the new Bill succeeds.
“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,” reads clause 3.

The punishments remain the same, Shs15 million in fines, seven years in jail or both.

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Nsereko’s Bill seeks to create the offence of hate speech.
“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,” reads the Bill’s definition of hate speech.

Sharing of unsolicited information, of malicious or misleading information, will all earn one seven years in jail, Shs15 million in fines or both stringent punishments.

Nsereko’s Bill has been referred to the Committee on Information and Communications Technology for processing.

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