KAMPALA — Uganda’s President H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni assented to the Data Protection and Privacy Act a fortnight ago. As a non-profit organisation seeking to empower citizens claim their digital rights and freedoms through capacity building, Encrypt Uganda applauds the President for signing the long-awaited law.
As advocates for human rights defender’s online privacy and safety, the new law that was passed by Parliament in December 2018 will be a great tool to help us effectively deliver on our mandate because its main objectives are;
- To protect the privacy of the individual and personal data;
- To regulate the collection and processing of personal information;
- To provide for the rights of the persons whose data is collected;
- To provide obligations of data collectors and data processors;
- To regulate the use or disclosure of personal information and for related matters
The data protection and privacy law is very critical to our long journey of creating a secure cyber space in Uganda and it has been long overdue. It provides the much-needed protection for personal identifiable information which is key in this digital age because it contains safeguards that will protect Ugandan citizens while using online services.
However, our concerns about the massive invasion of people’s privacy by various government agencies which collected, processed and used citizens’ data without this regulatory law in the past, remain alive.
But we are relieved that with the new law, people who will engage in collection and or disclosure of people’s information without their consent will be penalized because offenders will be jailed for 10 years or fined of not less than Shs 4.8m or both on conviction.
To us, this is a good step in the right direction because the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda recognizes the right to privacy and calls for its protection. Article 27 provides that “(1) No person shall be subjected to – (a) unlawful search of the person, home or other property of that person; or (b) unlawful entry by others of the premises of that person. And (2) No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property.”
Additionally, Uganda is a signatory to international laws and provisions that promote privacy such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
This means that legally, Uganda committed to offer an environment in which citizens’ privacy would be treated with dignity. To meaningfully protect people’s data means ensuring the right to privacy, respect to confidentiality in cases where information may be shared.
So, with this new law in place, we envision disappearance of the immense discomfort the online users through social media, unnecessary curtailment of freedom of expression to those perceived to be critics of the government using the Internet.
To this end, we call for total implementation of the law by the relevant enforcement agencies to put the display of private information on social media or in any public domain without victims’ consent to an end. We expect the perpetrators of the abuse of citizens’ privacy to be punished per the dictates of the new law.