Social media users in Uganda have protested the move by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to regulate all online data providers such as personal blogs and TV channels.
UCC in a statement released on their official website called upon all persons engaged in the provision of data online to regularise their operations by obtaining authorisation from them (UCC) by 5th October this year.
A number of Ugandans took it to their social media platforms to express their disappointment and rebel against the directive.
“Hello UCC, what you did was not eight. I will not register my YouTube Channel. I stay in Najjera Bulabura road, Uni Apartments behind Gen. Katumba if you want to fight,” Collins Emeka, a comedian and YouTuber said in a tweet.
İbrahim Bossa, the Public Relations Officer at UCC said that registration will be specific to all organisations or individuals who operate like news outfits online.
Bossa said: “Need for clarity here. Registration is specific to organisations or individuals operating news like outfits—disseminating information for simultaneous reception by the public hence the definition of broadcasting. Not every social media or online engagement meets this criterion.”
Several Ugandans however asked what the yardstick for who is a broadcaster and who is not will be.
“Who is not a broadcaster on these social media platforms? UCC should focus on better things,” another user said in a tweet.
“How many broadcasters will you know? Will, for example, the NYT, BBC, Guardian be asked to register? Will all people – outside Uganda – tweeting about Uganda have to first register with you? Who then, is a Ugandan broadcaster and who isn’t?” Raymond Mujuni, a journalist asked.
Many have also seen this as a move to silence voices of dissent as the country prepares for the 2021 general elections.
In its defence, however, UCC said: ” The broadcasting & data communication ecosystem today suffers from misinformation, disinformation and others. The regulator is charged with the responsibility of receiving, investigating and arbitrating complaints. How do you engage broadcasters you do not know?”