Following President Museveni's assent to The Computer Misuse Act 2022, a group of lawyers, journalists, and Human rights activists, took to court challenging the law, saying it suppresses freedom of speech and expression.
The Act criminalizes the sharing of information that is likely to degrade or ridicule another person, group of persons, tribe, religion, ethnicity, or gender, and children without the consent of their parents or guardians.
It also criminalizes the recording and sharing of audio or video of another person without their consent and prohibits writing, sending, or sharing hateful, unsolicited, misleading, or malicious information.
Commenting on the petition, Olive Najjuma, the RX Radio presenter, said every Ugandan should be happy that this new law is being challenged because everyone in the country can easily breach it.
“Some people believe that this law is affecting journalists, but it affects everyone that uses a computer or a phone and social media in general,” she argued.
Fatboy added that every email sent to someone or text without permission becomes unsolicited and criminal. “These are now criminal offenses! It is not like someone can have you charged in a civil court, this is criminal. Someone can report you to the police for sending an unsolicited message.”
Because the law criminalizes the use of parody accounts to publish and distribute information, Fatboy said it intends to force people to reveal their identities on social media. Olive says it is to punish people who criticize public officials.
According to the petitioners, the law is overly broad and general without exceptions to which extent it is to be applied. Secondly, it contradicts the existing law on freedom of expression.
The petitioners seek that the court declares sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the Computer Misuse Act as amended to be declared in contravention of constitutional rights to a fair hearing, freedom of expression, and a right to access information, among others.
The Computer Misuse Act 2022 is yet to be operational. Once gazetted, the offender will serve between five to 10 years in prison or be required to pay 10 million shillings or both.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, and Sarah every weekday from 6 am to 10 am on RX Radio.