AP

Digital activists challenge Uganda’s harsh new internet law

Oct 16, 2022, 3:34 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 7:22 am

Digital activists hold placards as they demonstrate after submitting a legal petition against contr...

Digital activists hold placards as they demonstrate after submitting a legal petition against controversial new legislation criminalizing some internet activity, at the constitutional court in Kampala, Uganda, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. The petition to the constitutional court argues that the description of computer-related crimes in the bill enacted with President Yoweri Museveni's signature last week violates the right to freedom of expression and criminalizes some digital work, including investigative journalism. (AP Photo/Hajarah Nalwadda)

(AP Photo/Hajarah Nalwadda)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan activists launched a legal challenge Monday to controversial new legislation criminalizing some internet activity in the East African country.

Their petition to the constitutional court argues that the description of computer-related crimes in the bill enacted with President Yoweri Museveni’s signature last week violates the right to freedom of expression and criminalizes some digital work, including investigative journalism.

In presenting their petition at the court in the capital, Kampala, the petitioners were backed by silent protesters who carried placards reading “This law is worth breaking.”

The legislation increased the restrictions introduced in a controversial 2011 law on the misuse of computers. The legislation, passed by the national assembly in September, was brought by a lawmaker who said it was necessary to deter those who hide behind computers to hurt others.

The new law proposes jail terms of up to seven years in some cases, including for offenses related to the transmission of information about a person without their consent, as well as the sharing or intercepting of information without authorization.

“Yes, we live in the digital space. But do you have the right to take my picture and use it for your interests?” Muhammad Nsereko, the lawmaker who brought the bill, told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

Opponents of the law say it will stifle freedom of expression in a country where many of Museveni’s opponents — for years unable to stage street protests — often raise their concerns on Twitter and other online sites. Others say it will kill investigative journalism.

Critics range from the Committee to Protect Journalists to Amnesty International, which called the legislation “draconian.”

“This piece of legislation threatens the right to freedom of expression online, including the right to receive and impart information, on the pretext of outlawing unsolicited, false, malicious, hateful, and unwarranted information,” Amnesty International’s Muleya Mwananyanda said.

“It is designed to deliberately target critics of government and it will be used to silence dissent and prevent people from speaking out.”

While the law has useful provisions such as those protecting the right to privacy, including responsible coverage of children, “it introduces punitive penalties for anyone accused of so-called hate speech,” the statement added.

Museveni, 78, has held power in Uganda since 1986 and won re-election last year. Although he is popular among some Ugandans who praise him for restoring relative peace and economic stability, many of his opponents describe his rule as authoritarian.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

tupac shakur...

Rio Yamat and Ken Ritter

Man tied to suspected shooter in Tupac Shakur’s 1996 killing arrested

Tupac Shakur was gunned down when he was 25. He was in a BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight.

22 hours ago

Former NFL football player Michael Oher, whose story became the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated...

Associated Press

Judge to end conservatorship between ex-NFL player Michael Oher, Tenn. couple

A Tennessee judge said Friday she is ending a conservatorship agreement between former NFL player Michael Oher and a Memphis couple who took him in when he was in high school.

1 day ago

BRAZIL - 2023/09/26: In this photo illustration, the Microsoft Bing logo is displayed on a laptop s...

Associated Press

Apple leverages idea of switching to Bing to pry more money out of Google, Microsoft exec says

Apple was never serious about replacing Google with Microsoft’s Bing as the default search engine in Macs and iPhones, but kept the possibility open as a "bargaining chip'' to extract bigger payments from Google

1 day ago

climate change...

Associated Press

2 lawsuits blame utility for eastern Washington fire that killed man and burned hundreds of homes

Two lawsuits have been filed against an electric utility for allegedly sparking a fire in eastern Washington that killed a man and burned approximately 240 homes.

2 days ago

Seattle non-profits...

Associated Press

Oregon man convicted of murder in fatal shooting of sheriff’s deputy in Washington state

A jury has convicted an Oregon man of murder in the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Washington state.

3 days ago

Image: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd during a campaign rally on Monday, Sept...

Associated Press

Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire

A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Digital activists challenge Uganda’s harsh new internet law