President Museveni Signs the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022 into Law

The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022 amends the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.

President Yoweri Museveni has today signed four (4) bills including, the “Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022 into law. The bill was recently passed by parliament and was waiting for the President’s assent.

Now signed into law, the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 amends the Computer Misuse Act, 2011 to enhance the provisions on unauthorized access to information or data; prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorization from a parent or guardian, and prohibits sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech. The punishment for the convicted person is UGX16 million or a five-year jail term, or both fine and imprisonment.

The Bill however isn’t welcomed by some — it received criticism from several human rights defenders and other stakeholders who argue that it (the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022) was drafted in bad faith, to protect the corrupt while penalizing those demanding accountability from their leaders.

Mawogola County MP, Ms. Gorreth Namugga said the bill was unconstitutional and implored the house not to pass it.

“The entire bill should not be left to stand as part of our laws as all the clauses are already catered for in existing legislation and in some instances offends the Constitution of Uganda; the fundamental rights to access information electronically and to express oneself over computer networks are utterly risked by this bill,” said Namugga.

Namugga added that the bill will stifle the acquisition of information. She noted that the penalties proposed in the bill are overly harsh and disproportionate when compared to similar offenses in other legislations. “This bill will be a bad law and liable to constitutional petitions upon assent.”

A new clause in the bill, proposed by the ICT committee chairperson, Hon. Moses Magogo defined social media and created penalties for computer users who take refuge in pseudo accounts.

The clause reads: “A person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information, prohibited under the laws of Uganda or using a disguised or false identity, commits an offense”.

A person who manages an account of an organization where this happens will be held liable for the commission of the offense, the bill provides.

Social media accounts that are verified will be presumed to be owned by the persons whose names the accounts are run unless the contrary is proved.

Also, a person whose telephone numbers and or email addresses have been used in creating social media will be personally liable for prosecution for offenses committed under the act as amended.

Hon. Magogo justified the clause as being intended to “provide for the regulation of social media”.

The bill has also criminalized and defined unsolicited information, but excused commercial adverts from the categorization, granting advertisers the liberty to share information with target audiences.

“For the purposes of this section, “unsolicited information” means information transmitted to a person using the internet without the person’s consent but does not include an unsolicited commercial communication,” partly reads clause 5.

The three other bills President Museveni assented on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, include the Mining and Minerals Act 2022, the Kampala Capital City (Amendment) Act 2022, and the Physical Planners Registration Act, 2022.

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