A human rights lawyer Ivan Bwowe has petitioned High Court challenging the recent notice issued by Uganda Communications commission –UCC requiring all persons providing online data communication to regularize their operations before use.
On September 7 2020, UCC wrote that the online content providers such as blogs, online radios, online Televisions, online newspapers among others have to regularize their operations by obtaining permission from the commission before October 5 2020 to be permitted to provide services to the public.
The commission also noted that, in accordance with the UCC Act and regulations, it is mandated to license, regulate and set standards for provision of all communication services including radio communication and online broadcasting in the country.
However, in his petition filed on Thursday before the Civil Division of High Court, Bwowe a member of Network for public interest lawyers wants Court quash the said notice on grounds that it is illegal and an abuse of the law.
In his case filed in public interest, Bwowe contends that acts of issuing the notice contradicts the objectives of UCC Act as clearly stipulated in section three which reduces the direct role of government as an operator in communication sector.
Bwowe adds that the notice has grave consequences as it aims at limiting and penalizing the use of social media accounts and limiting the exercise of constitutional rights especially freedom of expression.
“The public notice has grave consequences as it seems to limit and penalize the use of our social media accounts but also limiting the exercise of our Constitutional rights of freedom of expression, privacy and civic rights and activities”, reads the petition in part.
The former Makerere University Guild president further argues that he is aware that UCC doesn’t have the mandate to regulate social media companies many of which hold accounts and can’t limit the content posted there provided the content satisfies the community rules and standards of the respective social media platforms.
Bwowe who has individually drafted and filed his case now wants Court to quash the said notice and restrain UCC plus State institutions from arresting, fining, or prosecuting any person basing on the contested notice.
UCC is yet to be summoned to file its defense before the matter can be allocated to a Judge to fix it for hearing.