Facebook: Uganda requests for user account information

Wednesday August 28 2013

By Farahani Mukisa & Agencies

Facebook has revealed that the government of Uganda is among the 74 countries that requested for user account information of some of its citizens on social media platform in the first six months of 2013.

 The requests are made under the dockets of national security and criminal investigations by governments.

 In its first release of the Global Government Requests Report, Facebook’s general Counsel, Mr Colin Stretch noted that the release of the report is aimed at helping the on-going global debate about proper standards for governments around the world to access user information.

The list put out by Facebook shows Uganda was among the five African governments that requested for user information to conduct official investigations.

However, Facebook declined to disclose the data of the users that government had requested for.

Five African countries made the list with South Africa leading at 14 requests. Egypt has 8, Ivory Coast 4, Botswana 3, while Uganda had one request.

 Facebook has a stringent legal process for governments to access user data which involves detailed information of a legal basis and factual evidence for each request.

 The report comes just months after Security Minister Muruli Mukasa revealed that government was in the final stages of setting up a social media monitoring unit to follow social media discussions and weed out people damaging the reputation of government and its officials.

But Mr Ofwono Opondo, the director of the government Media Centre, the information was requested to facilitate the Uganda Police investigate cybercrime.

“The intersection warrant in the Communications Act 2010, gives Police through government, powers to apply for information from any organisation including international communication agencies such as Facebook to aid it in investigating crimes such as money laundering and threats,” Mr Opondo said.

Other countries mentioned by the release were United States that topped the list of countries requesting for over 12,000 Facebook user accounts information.