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Cabinet approves Bill to protect phone records

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The Minister of Information, Ms Rosemary Namayanja, addresses a press

The Minister of Information, Ms Rosemary Namayanja, addresses a press conference at the Media Centre yesterday. She said the proposed law will ensure that rights of individuals are upheld during data collection. Photo by Rachel Ajwang 

By FREDERIC MUSISI

Posted  Friday, January 24   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

The government says people’s information can be misused in the absence of a legal framework.

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Kampala- Propositions for a law protecting data have been approved and the ICT minister has been sanctioned to issue instructions to the first parliamentary counsel to draft the Data Protection and Privacy Bill 2014.
Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, the Information minister, Ms Rosemary Namayanja, said the Cabinet approved the principles of the Bill to safeguard interests of individuals whose information is collected by government, public institutions and private entities.
“There has been no law to safeguard the data collected or to ensure that it is used only for purposes for which it was intended,” Ms Namayanja said.
“In many cases, the data is personal, which may easily be misused in the absence of the legal framework to govern the integrity and circumstances relating to the use, storage and processing of data,” she added.
The proposed law comes at a time when personal information belonging to more than one million customers is in the hands of foreign telecommunications companies, with whom they were mandated to register during the Sim card registration exercise.
Critics, who subsequently dragged the communications regulator, Uganda Communications Commission, to court to delay the switching off of unregistered sim card holders, had argued that the lack of data protection law in the country was a hazard to privacy and freedom of speech.
Section 3 of the 2010 Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, which permitted Sim card registration, hints on the establishment of a data monitoring centre by the ICT minister, which shall store customer’s information, but does not guarantee safety of the information.
This, according to Ms Cathy Anite, a legal expert, was a violation of Article 27 of the Constitution which guarantees right to privacy of a person and other property.

But Ms Namayanja said the Bill is to give effect to Article 27 by providing for protection of private and personal data.
“It will ensure that the rights of individuals during data collection and processing are upheld against the threats and attacks capable of compromising the rights of information,” she said.

fmusisi@ug.nationmedia.com