Why tracking vehicles is fundamentally flawed?

What you need to know:

  • In a balanced society, the government should not have the final say on the use and storage of the data that will be collected. 
  • Until the right laws and regulations are put in place, this kind of monitoring should not be mandatory.

When we install trackers in vehicles, motorcycles and water vessels, it’s not just real-time privacy that we are giving up. 

Will all movements be monitored? Yes. Thus, this form of tracking means the government can easily know our ethnicity, religious beliefs, health status, and personal behaviours.

Therefore, it’s important that we demand transparency from government. Because, given the current laws, we don’t know if this location information will be used for the right purpose. 

One of the fundamental concerns is that under The Data Protection And Privacy Act 2019, this data collected (which is any accessible record of your life) essentially becomes the property of the collector. This Act doesn’t give us enough power over the information government collects.  Yet, information should be property of the person it identifies.

According to Security minister Maj Gen (rtd) Jim Muhwezi, we will be paying Shs20,000 annually to meet the costs of the eventual tracking. In the event that the systems fail, what happens to this collected information? 

Here is a scenario. If you cause an accident and speed away from the scene, the evidence from the digital tracker will be used to implicate you for the accident- thereby serving the right purpose. But on the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the same evidence cannot be retrieved years later, and sold to whoever wants to know our former lives.

There must be an independent system to define what is appropriate and what is not: during the use of data collected, and also hand down serious penalties upon misuse. 

In a balanced society, the government should not have the final say on the use and storage of the data that will be collected. 
Until the right laws and regulations are put in place, this kind of monitoring should not be mandatory.

The government’s reason for tracking is to prevent terrorism and reduce crime, which is understable given that investigations will be quicker, and even imminent crimes will be stopped. But at what cost? The “best” security can only be attained when the right privacy laws are made and adhered to. 
We all want safer communities but we must know how this data will be collected, used, stored- and for how long. We deserve to live a life where the basics of privacy are respected and protected.  

Benedict Hangiriza, 
Commentator on social  and political issues

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