Global companies are testing the ability to enforce laws passed to regulate electronic transactions and data privacy, National Information and Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) has said.
“Our laws do a good job in regulating disruptive technologies. The challenges that come in are due to international aspects, that is, if a company is offering a service based outside the country. The challenge is that it will require very strong cross collaboration among regulators of countries so that we have uniform applicability of the law and to help investigations in case anything goes wrong,” Mr Emmanuel Mugabi, NITA-U manager information security operations said.
He was speaking at a United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders’ workshop on multi-sectoral policy approaches to regulation of disruptive technologies on Thursday.
The rise of companies using financial technology, artificial intelligence or even blockchain technology to ease payments, credit, insurance or even trade have introduced new risks that require regulators to keep a watchful eye on the IT sector.
Take for instance, Artificial intelligence, which ignited concerns about data privacy for instance from driverless cars or even smart phones.
“I do know that Ugandans do have 2018/2019 car models and have that software inserted in them so it is not that it is going to take a long time to get here,” Mr Anthony Kakooza, lawyer at Sipi Law Associates said, adding, “One legal question is about whatever software issues come with that-privacy. You are inserting a lot of data and the car is picking data about you. We already have data privacy issues with our phones. If your phone already has a Google location on, it will be recording every place you are at.”
The other concern was with crypto currencies which use blockchain technology to record transactions.
“These are virtual currencies which operate on complex computer programs to derive the value they have. By nature, they do not have a central player that regulates them and what we have seen is on the use of these currencies, this is where we see a lot of risk. We have seen a lot of Bitcoin exchanges hacked and once money is lost, the user is left without any protection because of lack of international collaboration,” Mr Mugabi said.
Some players in government were concerned the evolution of crypto currencies could create new controllers of the finance sector.
“People are creating coins left, right and centre. If these coins are going to be used as a medium of exchange, that means there are going to be many central banks and whoever has the money creates the rules. How far will this go? Who will regulate since Bank of Uganda is not creating coins? Governments are going to lose power,” Mr Patrick Ssengendo, a participant said.
However, those dealing in crypto currencies said it is time government devises means for regulating disruptive technologies as part of eliminating threats to the finance sector.
“The way government controls the money is not pro-people and crypto currencies are bringing independence to the people. What government should do is evolve with what is happening in the crypto space,” Mr Ambrose Twesigye from Crypto Revolution said.