Sunday May 25 2014

Stringent laws stifling internet freedom - survey

By Ephraim Kasozi & Patience Ahimbisibwe

KAMPALA- The stringent laws on interception of communications by the East African governments are stifling full enjoyment of Internet freedom due to failure to protect privacy of the users, according to a regional survey.
The report on the state of Internet Freedoms in East Africa 2014 presented on Friday, indicates that the six countries; Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda,

Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have completed SIM-card registration which could make monitoring and interception of telephone communications easier.
However, this worries the researchers as the exercise infringes on personal privacy.

Purpose diverted
The report observes that although the laws enacted in the last three years have been intended to fight terrorism, cybercrime and hate speech, evidence from the incidents where these laws have been invoked by different governments suggests that often the primary interest of the authorities is to stifle legitimate expression than fighting terrorism.

“Although registration of phone users is becoming a global trend, in East Africa, it is a cause for worry due to the absence of data protection and privacy laws,” the report reads in part.

The survey done by Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Central Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with OpenNet Africa, seeks to fill the deep gap in information on the state of online freedoms in the region to form the basis for discussion, awareness and capacity development.