Media attempts to halt UCC cut-off

Reporters at the Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRNJ-U) have sued the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on the grounds of privacy and freedom of expression infringements as SIM card registration processes continue.

The HRNJ-U filed a complaint through the Web Advocates and Legal Brain Trust (LBT), accusing the UCC of issuing unfounded threats of network switch-off as a consequence for subscribers who fail to register.

“The Applicant [HRNJ] is seeking a declaration that the Respondent [UCC] and their servants or agents have not carried out structured and sufficient public consultations, sensitization and awareness-raising activities to justify the imminent switching off of the users of unregistered SIM-cards on 1st March 2013 or any other deadline set by the Respondents without obtaining parliamentary approval,” reads the indicative statement.

According to Haruna Kanaabi, ex-Editor of Shariat and former Secretary General of the Uganda Journalist Association, the UCC did not follow the rules as stipulated in the Regulations of Interception of Communications Act of 2010 and the Regulation of Interception of Communications Instrument.

With regards to customer privacy, the accuser also points to the disregard of Articles 32(1), 35(1) and 36 of the Constitution stipulating the basic human rights and freedoms.

The UCC is blamed for conducting the SIM card registration implementation in a way that is “insensitive to persons with disabilities, minorities and marginalized groups,” The Observer reported.

“I appreciate your efforts to advocate for the data protection law because it is important in as far as keeping privacy of Ugandans but the SIM card registration exercise that is ongoing is very important because it will assist government to detect illegal acts like terrorism,” James Kabajjo, Member of Parliament at Kibofa East, told The Observer.

National SIM card registration began last year in Uganda, with the aim of tracking law transgressors.

HumanIPO reported on February 1 on the obstacle posed by lack of national identification cards to a smooth registration process.

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