Ugandan government has tabled a new bill aimed at crackdown on social media as well as media houses in a bid to control communication.
Attorney General Fred Ruhindi tabled “The Uganda Communications (Amendment) Bill 2016” in parliament on Wednesday.
It seeks, among others, to give the executive arm of government outright powers to control communications in “any way the sector minister deems fit”.
On February 18 as the country voted the new president, Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] took it upon itself to block all social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube etc as well as mobile money networks.
President Yoweri Museveni later cited “national security” concerns for gagging social media and denying citizens their freedom of expression.
The new Bill crafted by John Nasasira, the Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), seeks to amend the 2013 law to remove the requirement for parliamentary approval of the regulations made by the minister under the law.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga forwarded the Bill to ICT committee for scrutiny.
The ICT committee will then meet the sector minister and other stakeholders to get their views before submitting its report to Parliament.
The committee findings will guide parliament on whether to accept or reject the Bill.
Government says Section 93(1) provides that the minister may, after consultation with the Commission and with the approval of Parliament, by statutory instrument, make the regulations for the better carrying into effect provisions of the Act.
Section 93(3) provides that the regulations made shall be laid before Parliament.
Nasasira wants to amend the Uganda Communications Act, 2013, to remove the requirement for parliamentary approval of the regulations made by the minister under the Section 93(1).