Earlier this month, parliamentarians unanimously passed the Computer Misuse Bill 2022, which intends to prohibit writing, sending/ sharing of any information that ridicules, degrades, or demeans another person, group of persons, tribe, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Further, it will criminalize users whose information divides people based on tribe, ethnicity, religion and gender or information that promotes hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity group, religion, or gender.
The modifications will add stringentness to the existing Computer Misuse Act. Human rights activists and a number of journalists have condemned the law saying it will eradicate the freedom of speech and expression.
Recent developments indicate that the Directorate of CID and CMI, on September 19, 2022, charged to court a blogger, Kasagga Bashir aka Kasagga Matovu, with four counts of Unauthorised Modification of computer material, under the Computer Misuse Act.
This was after Police investigations alleged that the suspect changed tweets and Twitter handles of the Defence Spokesperson, Uganda Police Force, Speaker Annita Annet Among and Balaam Barugahara. It is alleged that Kasagga used the twitter accounts to make offensive statements appearing as though their rightful owners posted them.
James Onen, while commenting on the Computer Misuse Act, wondered whether the law will not extinguish the fun that comes with parody accounts and jokey content.
“Are these guys not taking off the humor of the internet because sometimes people on social media are just being goofy and cheeky? They certainly do not mean harm when they tweet things that might be slightly offensive but so is everything in life. It is just about having a thick skin, a good laugh about it, and moving on,” he defended.
But Mrisho, a caller on the show, said sometimes people go beyond and mock even the dead and their deeds, though he was not sure it would be an offense gets people behind bars.
Fatboy reasoned that Kasagga’s arrest could open the doors to suits and cases of people against each other for information and statements they make on social media.
“Unfortunately, it will mostly be politicians and people running government institutions who will utilize these laws to suppress the expression of ideas by those deemed unworthy.”
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, and Sarah every weekday from 6 am to 10 am on RX Radio.