The parliament of Uganda has today signed into law the 2022 computer Misuse Bill which prescribes tougher penalties for perpetrators of cyber crimes in the country.

The bill, which is an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act, of 2011, aims to strengthen Uganda’s growing technology sector although a section of MPs is against it.

The law defines social media as “a set of technologies, sites, and practices which are used to share opinions, experiences and perspectives, and includes YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Reddit, Quora, Skype, Microsoft Team and Linkedin”.

Some of the provisions in the new law include the provision barring sharing of information relating to a child without the consent of a parent or guardian. The bill also seeks to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech as well as unauthorized access to information or data.

In the new regulation, social media has also been redefined as the country seeks to create penalties for users who rely on pseudo accounts or social robots to spread hate speech, fake news and misinformation.

For instance, administrators of groups or channels where fake news will be spread will be held responsible and charged for committing cyber crimes.

“A person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information, prohibited under the laws of Uganda or using a disguised or false identity, commits an offence”.

The regulations have attracted a fair share of criticism with some MPs terming them unconstitutional.

One of the sitting MPs,  Gorreth Namugga opined that “The entire bill should not be left to stand as part of our laws as all the clauses are already catered for in existing legislation and in some instances offends the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; the fundamental rights to access information electronically and to express oneself over computer networks are utterly risked by this bill.”