BY AMBROSE GAHENE
Unwanted Witness, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), in partnership with Future Challenges, Digital Human Rights Lab and with support from German Cooperation (GIZ) among others, on Friday Launched a Report regarding State of Digital Rights and Internet Governance in Uganda, at Kampala Hotel Africana, with a call on Government to scrap Over The Top (OTT) tax, levied on social media users.
Ms Dorothy Mukasa, Unwanted Witness official, in her remarks said, establishment of OTT in 2018 that was imposed on internet users via social media was found to be expensive for some people to sustain the internet in Uganda. She said: “Individuals should be able to access, use, create, publish digital media through the use of ICT means because they have the digital human rights that are legal and therefore should be protected”
Carol Atuhaire, another Unwanted Witness activist, said, OTT tax is a hindrance to the growth of ICT in Uganda because the number of internet users in Uganda has grown exponentially from less than 40,000 around 2000 to slightly over 10 million in 2020, with social media penetration of the urban population.
“Introduction of OTT saw about three million subscribers become inactive between 2018 and 2019. As some countries are rolling out 5G internet, you can hardly get stable 3G in Kampala, yet its where most internet infrastructure were established”, she said.
Uganda Communication Commission Head of Legal, Abdul Salam Waiswa, said: “Facebook doesn’t care about you; it’s a private company in the US”. He said Facebook connectivity is limited in Uganda as the Government is still holding talks with Facebook on several issues for its safe operations in Uganda.
Ms Stella Alibateese, National Information Technology Authority (NITA- Uganda) Director, Regulation and Legal Affairs said: “As individuals we expose ourselves intentionally as we enjoy digital rights online, but we’ve created awareness and protection frameworks to ensure information, identity, safety, privacy, as well as online consumers’ rights”
Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Director, Monitoring and Inspections, Ms Ruth Ssekindi, said limitation of digital rights should be for a short time in respect to address a challenge, threat and that the limitations should be reasonable, acceptable and proportional to the challenge or threat, other than violation of digital rights.