Uganda: Ucc Proposes Improved Regulation of Social Media

16 October 2019

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is proposing improved regulation of over the top services (OTT) such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage investment in the sector.

During the second international preparatory meeting hosted by UCC, which attracted stakeholders from different countries in Africa's telecommunication industry, the Commission proposed that African countries take a stand on all OTT oriented matters.

"Uganda is proposing an African Union declaration on all OTT related issues. While Africa is a net user of OTTs such as Facebook and Twitter, regulators are hard-pressed to protect consumers, personal data, pricing and to regulate competition-related matters involving multinational OTTs in their markets," a statement from UCC reads in part.

"Besides, OTT revenue flows remain skewed against African Mobile Network Operators and infrastructure providers from whose networks OTTs thrive," the statement adds.

Yesterday, Ms Irene Kaggwa, the UCC director for engineering and communication infrastructure, who also chaired the meeting explained the Commission is cognisant that Mobile Network Operators and infrastructure providers are a means to an end for OTTs but a balance should be struck regarding competition between the two.

"It is not that we are looking at how Mobile Network Operators and infrastructure providers are supposed to benefit but since OTTs are a popular service, we are looking at how to ensure a situation that there is money to develop the necessary infrastructure that will ensure continuity of all the new services that are coming up," she said.

UCC argues that standards need to be incorporated to determine how regulators censor fair competition, which for instance, Ms Kaggwa said includes calls and text messaging via OTTs that continues to compete with the traditional voice calls and text messaging services.

Essentially, the Commission is seeking to ensure that Mobile Network Operators have revenue that enables them to invest in network infrastructure.

UCC has also proposed tackling security concerns in the era of OTTs and data protection law, saying that: "While there is still a security linkage with telecoms in different countries, when it comes to OTTs, how do we as a global community address the security issues that may arise?"

Disrupted

Lack of traceability of origin of calls via emerging social networks inhibits credible identification which bears additional repercussions.

OTTs, UCC says, have disrupted the economics among Mobile Network Operators, especially voice calls.

"Operators compensate each other for termination of traffic which is based on the origin of the call. When the traffic hasn't been properly identified, the compensation process is difficult," she explained.

Ms Kaggwa declined to reveal resolutions from the meeting saying it is too early for it to be discussed.

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