Bloggers, internet publishers, and broadcasters have until October 5 to seek permits from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in new regulations that tighten State control on the dissemination of information.
“All persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services including but not limited to blogs, online television, radios, online newspapers, audio over Internet Protocol (AoIP), Internet Portal TV, Video on Demand digital audio radios and television, internet/ web radio and internet/web television, to obtain authorisation from UCC before providing such services to the public,” the statement released on Monday by the regulator reads.
“If your social media page is used to transmitting sound, video or data intended for simultaneous reception by the public (broadcasting) and by data, we mean electronic representation of information in any form including audiovisual, you need authorisation as a data communicator,” added UCC.
Ugandans have criticised the new directive coming at a time the country is headed for a general election in February next year with campaigns having kicked off, though unofficial.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the electoral body has directed that political parties conduct “scientific campaigns” online, through the media and other non-contact means as a preventive measure to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“One buys data to use the internet, then pays OTT [over-the-top tax] to use social media, and now one has to pay to post on social media? Why introduce this tax in a situation of digital campaigns?” Narith, a Twitter posed.
Ivan Bwowe, a lawyer and human rights activist, has warned that the directive infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of expression and communication.