Uganda: Govt Sets Registration Deadline for Popular Bloggers, Social Media Users

The Uganda Communications Commission notice has caused an outcry.
8 September 2020

Bloggers and social media users with a large following are among those that will have to register with the Ugandan Communication Commission for monitoring before October 5, 2020, according to the organisation's public notice.

"The purpose of this Public Notice, therefore, is to advise all persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services including but not limited to blogs, online televisions, online radios, online newspapers, audio over IP (AoIP), Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), Video on Demand (VoD), Digital Audio radios and televisions, internet/web radio and internet/web television, to obtain authorisation from UCC before providing such services to the public," the commission statement read.

The notice further states that the regulation of communication services is intended to "promote and safeguard the interest of consumers, operators, viewers and listeners".

Some have criticized this new development, saying it seeks to silence the media as the country gears up for 2021 election.

- #Uganda This is infringement of the right to free speech. Mr. Museveni, @KagutaMuseveni @UCC_Official, do you think you can control social media? - Aubriana Aurora (@lilimobeth)

- UCC! This notice contains ambiguous and blanket terms that are vague and poorly defined, kind of 'one size fits all' regulation. This has potential (as it is likely) for arbitrary interpretation and resultant stifling of online freedoms and rights. - Adeeda Dominic said via Twitter (@DOMINICADEEDA)

- Now @ucc you mean facebook pages Ugandans follow which are managed by people in other countries have also to be licensed? And if yes, how? Don't you just have to ban social media in Uganda or if may be you can, you can try seizing @Facebook the inventors and patent holders. - Umbrella Generation (@voteNUP)

- Uganda regulator gives social media users, bloggers, etc. with large follows an Oct. 5, 2020 deadline to register "for monitoring by the state". With polls in Feb. 2021, the govt repression of free expression is on steroids. The leopard has pimped his spots #FreedomDiesInUg - Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3)

In June 2020, the National Electoral Commission announced that candidates seeking electoral positions will be conducting digital or virtual campaigns, as a way of combating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This means campaigns will be conducted mostly on radios, TVs and social media platforms, prompting the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) to appeal to media owners to give balanced coverage to all candidates in the forthcoming national elections, irrespective of their parties.

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