Uganda: UCC Orders Online News Publications to Register

Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director

Kampala — The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has directed all online data and news service providers to register with it.

According to a March 6, 2018 public notice, the affected online service providers have been given a deadline of April 2, 2018 to register or in default, disciplinary measures be taken against them.

"The purpose of this public notice therefore, is to inform all persons currently offering or desirous of offering online data communication services, that in exercise of its powers under Section 6 (e) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission classified online data communication services as a communication services for which one requires an authorization from the Commission," the UCC notice reads in part.

"Online data communication service providers, including online publishers, online news platforms, online radio and telephone operators are therefore advised to apply and obtain authorization from the Commission," the notice states.

It adds: "The Commission shall from the April 2, 2018, embark on the enforcement activities against all non-complaint providers of online data communication services and this may entail directing internet service providers to block access to such websites or streams."

UCC justifies its actions on grounds that it's mandated in accordance with Section 5 of the Communications Act 2013, to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate all communications services.

The Commission is also mandated to set standards and enforce compliance relating to content.

"Hence, under the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the provisions of any services that involve the communication to the public of any content, whether by way of audio, video, sound, still or moving pictures or a combination thereof, is a communication service that is subject to regulatory control of the Commission," the notice signed by Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director states.

Recently, a number of online news publications have mushroomed in the country but mainly in Kampala city.

Most of them have been in the business of "breaking news" although the majority have been running what can be described as fake news.

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