Government regulatory body of the communications sector; Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) last month in a letter dated 6th July signed by the Executive Director, UCC, Godfrey Mutabazi, directed all telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Uganda to block access to 26 pornographic sites. The list included; 10 international based sites and 16 local based sites.
The letter copied to the Hon. Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Chairperson Pornography Control Committee, and Secretary Pornography Control Committee, stated that, under Section 17 of the Anti-Pornography Act, all ISPs must ensure that pornographic material is not uploaded or downloaded through their services.
The Commission received the 26 websites from the Pornography Control Committee (PCC) – who according to the Commission, was (PCC) established under Section 3 of the Anti-Pornography Act 2014 to ensure early detection and prohibition of pornography in Uganda. The Committee is currently spearheaded by Dr. Annette Kezaabu Kesimbazi – with a team of about nine that were sworn in last year at the office of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity.
According to reports, the committee uses high-end machine – that cost about USD$88,000 (approximately UGX325 million) that were bought from South Korea to detect the sharing of nude materials on mobile phones, computers, and television. Journalist and Columnist; Raymond Mujuni, in a tweet said that PCC also pointed out that messages of a sexual nature, or “sexting”, will also be defined as porn and attract punishment.
“Text messages construed to be leading to sex [sexting] will be defined as porn and attract punishment says porn committee leader,” reads the tweet.
It is worth knowing that being in possession of any pornographic material can land you jail time for up to 10 years under the Uganda’s Anti-pornography law, which parliament passed in 2014 with an aim to stamp pornography out of the Ugandan society.
According to Daily Monitor 2017 reports, the Hon. Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo claimed pornography is to blame for the increasing levels of drug abuse among the youth, teenage pregnancies, and abortion.
Among the international sites that were blocked include; Pornhub, RedTube, XnXX, XVideos, YouPorn, Xhamster, to mention a few while the local sites blocked included; Massage Republic, City of Love, Escorts in Kampala, Exotic Uganda, Travel Girls, and so forth.
While these sites might be blocked, users can still access them via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Wi-Fi networks. We tired access one of the blocked site “Pornhub” via a Wi-Fi connection and we were able to access the site. Thus, we are not sure how the committee, and the government at large will go about this.
VPNs are now the big thing in Uganda currently, after the OTT tax went effective July 1st. The taxes a part of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill 2018 that was presented to and passed by the Ugandan Parliament was subsequently assented to by H.E the President of Uganda; Yoweri K. Museveni, and consequently became an Act of Parliament. The Act imposed a 0.5% levy on withdraws through mobile money platforms. In addition, it imposes a UGX200 charge on Over-the-Top (OTT) services per day of access. However, Ugandans can choose to pay UGX1,400 weekly or UGX6,000 monthly.
Here’s a full list of the blocked 26 pornographic websites
Pornhub, XVideos, Xnxx, Xhamster, YouPorn, RedTube, Heavy-r., iPornTv, ePorner, and Thumbzilla.
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