Internet is increasingly becoming a major tool for social, economic and human rights development in Uganda. Average citizens, human rights activists, civil society organisations (CSOs), media houses, and politicians across the divide have resorted to use of internet-based platforms such as facebook, whatsapp, twitter in particular, for expression, association and informational sharing.
Whereas accessibility and affordability of internet in Uganda is positively blossoming with 2016 statistical figures from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) putting the internet users at 15.5million with 46% penetration rate, the realisation of rights on these platforms is largely still faced by vast challenges with the existence of restrictions perpetrated by both the state and non-state actors who violate the users’ privacy and freedom of expression which in turn, prevent the positive impact Internet can potentially make in the lives of the citizenry.
Uganda’s legal framework is oppressive with a number of acts and/or laws allotting the government through its agencies excessive powers to prevent Ugandans in different spheres from enjoying their rights and freedoms of expression and privacy in this digital age.
For example, in 2016 elections, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) used its powers under the UCC act to issue directives for the unprecedented blocking of social media and mobile money access during the general elections and presidential swearing-in ceremony. To us, this was utter violation of the right to freedom of expression and other Internet freedoms.
The government which later introduced regressive Over the Top Social Media Tax (OTT) with the sole aim of limiting the citizens’ access to social media, vowed to also block the proxies and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to completely stop them from accessing information on Internet.
Save for the limitations to internet access, there is another area of concern which is the invasion of users’ privacy by the Government through enaction of various stringent laws like the Computer Misuse Act 2011, Electronics Transactions Act 2011, and Electronic Signatures Act 2011, among others under the guise of boosting access to online information, combat cyber crime and protection of Internet users, but actually being used as tools to stifle online rights, infringe individuals’ and organisations’ privacy and then hinder their fundamental freedoms of expression.
The rampant office break-ins and hacking of both online accounts and computers, leads to hrds loosing vital information without the capacity and measures to mitigate the dangerous trend.
It’s on this premise therefore, that Encrypt Uganda comes in to offer preventive and real time solutions. We seek to defend and promote online freedoms to prevent government restrictions. Encrypt Uganda also seeks to strengthen the safety and security of HRDs by building their capacities with a view of equipping them with knowledge and skills to better protect themselves against digital security threats. We set out to advocate for a conducive environment through which the citizenry can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedom of expression through use of Internet through influencing good laws and policies.
Our profound belief is that privacy is the cornerstone for human rights in the digital age. So, we work to promote and defend individuals’ and organisational right to privacy in respect to local, regional and international legal frameworks.