Cross functional team pose for a picture outside the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance .

This morning, the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) hosted an education and awareness session on the Electronic Discovery and Cyber Laws implementation for a core team from academia (Cavendish University) as well as the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) with representation from Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA) and Uganda Police Force (UPF).

The increased use of Information, Communication and Technology services (ICT), electronic commerce/business is on the rise and offers great new opportunities for economic growth. Whereas this adoption of ICT is intended for good, there are malicious actors that are keen on using the same for unlawful purposes through cyber-crime. This has therefore led to the emergence of new crimes which require a similar level of enhanced crime investigation and prosecution approach.  Similarly, digital information continues to grow at an exponential rate and can be stored on a device or cloud service and in different jurisdictions. Information stored in these changing media forms can therefore be a crucial source of evidence in any cybercrime investigation.

In line with the above, Parliament of Uganda enacted 3 (three) laws relating to the use of electronic communication in Uganda, namely: the Electronic Transactions Act, 2011; the Electronic Signatures Act, 2011; and the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 collectively known as the “Cyber Laws” which became effective on 15th  April 2011. Furthermore, regulations were developed and thereafter enacted on 30th September 2013.

These include the Electronic Transactions Regulations, 2013 and the Electronic Signatures Regulations, 2013. These laws are the backbone of the legal framework for the IT sector and provide for and regulate the use of electronic communications in business and in the delivery of services to the public. Additionally, NITA-U developed the National Information Security Framework (NISF) to standardize our approach to Information Security as a Nation.

At the opening, Arnold Mangeni, the Director Information Security, NITA-U, shared that, “the application of the cyber laws requires skilled knowledge at both investigation and prosecution guided by adhering to principles of digital forensics as well as chain of custody.”

In the first session, Baker Birikujja, Legal Officer at NITA-U presented to the team an over view of the cyber laws and how they address the legal aspects of using ICT and the internet. This was followed by the second session to impart skills to investigators and prosecutors on the best practice of applying the Cyber Laws and Digital Forensics in the handling of cyber related cases. In his delivery, Noah Baalessanvu, a digital forensics expert emphasized that Laws dealing with digital evidence are concerned with integrity and authenticity.

At the national level, creating capacity is key in effectively handling cybercrime. This creates a linkage between technology and the Law. In essence, law enforcement investigation requires knowledge of the Law in order to provide evidence admissible in courts of law and litigation will similarly require a fair understanding of technology and its terminologies.

The team recommended that NITA-U in collaboration with the JLOS secretariat undertake to organize further education and awareness sessions to gradually increase the knowledge and capacity of successfully handling cyber-crimes.