Opinion: Nsereko MP wants to strangle all online utterances…

The Kampala Central MP Muhammed Nsereko has today presented the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 for the first reading in Parliament. This bill should be discussed, because in the climate and the sort of affairs of the state. Because, I would believe this would be used even more to strike against the opposition and activists who defies the state.

The new amendments of the Computer Misuse Act is very clear. Yes, the hacking and the child-porn articles are fine. That should be illegal and anyone understands that. However, the rest of the amendments can be questioned and Nsereko MP should know how this can be used. There is already restrictive laws, which can stop and go after individuals who speaks out of line.

The state is already using “cyber harassment” and usage of “offensive communications” against writers, oppositions and such. That’s why this law will be a spearhead by the courts and the authorities to muffle the dissidents. I don’t see this law as a tool to stop what it intends too do, but instead go after government critics.

The stipulations and articles in question should be these…

“234. Hate speech.

(l) A person shall not write, send or share any information through a computer, which is likely to-

(a) ridicule, degrade or demean another person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender;

(b) create divisions among persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; or

(c) promote hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (l) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding seven hundred fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both” (Computer Misuse Act Amendment Bill, 2022).

The ideals of this one is fine, but how do you deem these things? Can this be used for people mocking an MP from the North like Langi or Acholi for that matter. Because, it doesn’t take much to be seen or could be in the threshold. The idea is fine, but where and what is fitting here? That’s what I am wondering about, because this law isn’t that specific and could be used against someone. This is what I am fearing just be reading this one article alone. While he continues further in the law in the next articles too. 

“24A. Unsolicited information.

(l) A person shall not send to or share with another person unsolicited information through a computer.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding seven hundred fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both,”” (Computer Misuse Act Amendment Bill, 2022).

What is unsolicited information? Is that shared documents? Leaked DMs? There is so many questions here… because is this stopping leaks and dossiers, which the state don’t want published? That’s how it sounds like… The MP should know how things goes viral and how the Internet never forgets. When someone has published or shared something. Another person can easily share it and you don’t solicit any acceptance to publish it after that. Therefore, this laws should be specified too. Unless, he wants to be broad… since that opens up the gates and you can question easily what is what. It shouldn’t be like that with a law… but that’s where we are.

“264. Misleading or malicious information.

(1) A person shall not send, share or transmit any misleading or malicious information about or relating to any person through a computer.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (l) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding seven hundred fifty currency points or irnprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both.”” (Computer Misuse Act Amendment Bill, 2022).

This here is the extension of “cyber harassment” and anyone can see that. What can be deemed as misleading? What is malicious? Which legal terms or measures can the courts or the judiciary judge things? This is defamation of sorts and then the authorities needs metrics of proof or evidence for the alleged criminal actions.

Because, what is really misleading? Is that any speech of Museveni in the recent years? Is that all the campaign pledges that haven’t been implemented over the years? Since, this law should be used against everyone and anybody. You can call it pledges and promises, but if you don’t deliver them… aren’t you misleading the public? Shouldn’t someone like the government and National Resistance Movement (NRM) be charged?

We know this law will be used as a tool against the opposition and activists. The government critics would fear this law and the articles is made for that. Nsereko MP has his own Public Order Management Act (POMA). The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act of 2022 is just another of these. He must be so proud and hopes to get compensated by the State House for serving the will of the President. Peace.

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