OTT Madness Part II: A Crackdown on Online Publications…

Yesterday, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) issued a statement that they would need to obtain persons who are operating online and publishing content online. That is not only blogs, but video and media in general. This is if you are on social media or just a blogger. Everyone in the Republic must be authorized and registered as such to be regulated by the UCC.

This is happening in the short span of the Over-The-Top Taxes, the Social Media Tax, the 200 shillings of doom. The state continues their crackdown and wanting to monitor and control the publications, the content online. This is a deliberate effort to know about who is behind the online media and who is posting online content.

That is happening, while the state combined with their institutions are gearing up for a “Scientific” election in 2021. As the campaigns, the electorate and the political operatives must use either online outlets or print media. If not broadcasting either on-air og on television.

So, it’s not shocking that the UCC does this. Just like it did the Sim-Registration drive as well. They are suddenly acting swift in the name of the authorities to ensure they can have access and control of a certain part of the public space.

It is just interesting that they need this now. Just as the Electoral Commission and everyone else is gearing up for the various of flag-bearers and candidates. That they need to access these places, knowing about the news publications on Facebook, the ones dropping teasers on Instagram and the verified accounts on Twitter. Because, that is suddenly important now. So, they can deem your ass fit or not.

They will likely try to crash down on the media houses, the outlets and the publications who are deliberately spreading bad news for the regime. The ones who like TVO style and hurt the pride of Muhoozi and Bosco. That is just life, I suppose and how narrow minded the regime is at this point.

The OTT Tax and Social Media Tax is just a proof of how far the state will go. That is already limiting the space online and the amount of content. With this, the people will be even more limited and the ones who has their own platforms and uses it. Has to register and maybe will be revoked. Even if they have paid a third-party, have agreements and payment-plans for their operations. Still, the UCC can and will stop you from doing so.

The state has pushed for digital and online campaigns, but these sorts of actions speaks another tone. Seemingly, the only one allowed in the end is the “NRM Friendly Press” and “Associates of the Online Brigade”. The NRM SOMA and outreaches of Uganda Media Centre are allowed to operate, the ones like Ashburg and other content creators. While the rest are blocked or lost their privileges by the state. I don’t believe the UCC does this to be kind and keep a registry for “fun”. No, this is not that sort of business and the UCC isn’t a friendly uncle, but a tool for limiting the freedom of expression.

The ones who differs, be your guest, but don’t be shocked if someone loses their livelihoods and their platform. Because, they are voices of dissidents and the opposition. The ones who dares to speak against the President and his Party. They are all under fire by this. The NRM operatives will move along and get even more space. However, the others will be in trouble…

This is a crackdown; we just don’t know to what extent. The UCC will claim and say otherwise, but we all know the drill. Peace.

 

Digital Campaigning: Expect opposition candidates to be blocked from the air-waves during the campaigns…

The Electoral Commission released the Road Map for the General Elections of 2021 today. This is so everyone involved, every stakeholder and party can adjust their programs. They can work towards the deadlines, deliver their nominated candidates and prepare for impact. We can all assume this is done for some transparency. However, there been no legislation nor any changes of substance since the 2016 General Elections. So expect another rigged race and outcome, which is already pre-fixed by the buddies within the EC.

To think otherwise in 2020 is naive and deluded. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) will own the Parliament, will hold the stranglehold on the Presidency and will only give breadcrumbs to the Opposition. That is what it does to show sympathy and also prove to donors that it has some sort of democracy. Even when all know it isn’t real and there are no level playing-field.

The Road Map today was striking and COVID-19 based, as the EC is preparing for digitally campaigning for all the parties involved. The Electoral Commission stated today this: “Mass rallies will not be allowed but campaigns will be conducted mainly through media” (EC, 16.06.2020).

With this in mind, the candidates on various of levels has a short span of time to hit the airwaves, online outlets and on the TV screens. This is coming as the state has enforced the OTT Tax and made it expensive to be on social media. The state also known for blocking opposition leaders to on the local radios. If they are sincere in this election. They will open up the radios, let the opposition candidates have conversations and appeal to the public through there. As the rural areas isn’t fully operative with internet to every village and home. There are not even electricity to every home. That is why this strategy will backfire and someone will not get the whole gist from all candidates.

We can also expect that the President and the NRM blocks the airwaves for the times of the speeches of the President. Especially in the time frame of the digitally campaigns. That is just inevitable. He will block Besigye and Bobi Wine from speaking out at the same time. He will not accept that. That is hurting his fragile ego.

There are just something we can anticipate. There will be self-made sessions on Facebook and Live Taping, which is not needed with any media house. However, if the people want to reach far and wide. Than they need to hit the airwaves, needs to be on the TV stations and be able to speak across the platforms. We have seen in the past that the Uganda Communication Commission has sanctioned Radios, TV stations for having Bobi Wine on. They have also blocked Besigye, even RDCs has blocked Besigye for appearing on Radio shows. So, we anticipate a hurdle and destructive patterns here.

The system and control from high above will be visible here. I don’t expect it to really change. However, they should if they want it to look good. I expect arrests, house-arrests and other things. Just as the opposition are trying to travel to radio stations and such. That is just the sad reality Also expect police to block stations and stop from transmitting. This is just something that will appear. Later the UCC and RDC will have an excuse and do it for “safety”. Even if the Opposition is supposed to be allowed on the airwaves. While the NRM candidates and Flag-Bearers can do whatever they feel.

This is just my imagination, but I don’t think its far fetched from the possibly reality in a few months time. Unless, they suddenly opens for rallies and then venues will be closed. Where the Opposition will be chased by the authorities and sometimes end behind bars. Peace.

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