KAMPALA: The Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and National Guidance wants the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 withdrawn.
The Permanent Secretary, Dr Aminah Zawedde said that her ministry is in the process of bringing a holistic and encompassing bill that will address gaps in the Acts governing the ICT sector including the current Computer Misuse Act 2011.
“We recommend that we halt the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and we await the Information and Communications Bill, 2022 that will incorporate this bill as well,” Zawedde said on Tuesday, 16 August 2022 while meeting MPs on the Committee on ICT.
On 17 July 17 2022 Hon. Muhammad Nsereko (Indep., Kampala Central) moved a private member’s bill intended to curtail cyber bullying and fake news.
Once implemented, the law is envisaged to limit dissemination of unauthorized digital content and information while fostering online protection for the general populace.
Dr. Zawedde said that whereas Cabinet advised that the ministry works with the mover of the bill, Hon. Nsereko, it is prudent that the bill is withdrawn to accommodate a more comprehensive bill that will be tabled by the Minister of ICT by end of December 2022.
“We are awaiting clearance from the cabinet to proceed with the drafting of the bill. We realized that we currently have overlaps and decided to come up with the Information and Communications Bill, 2022 to be the encompassing bill for the sector,” Dr Zawedde said.
According to Zawedde, the Information and Communications Bill, 2022 will provide for regulation and management of media and content that will cure the proposals raised in Nsereko’s bill.
“This Bill once approved will, among others, harmonize and strengthen regulatory provisions in the existing laws and includes repeal of the Press and Journalism Act Cap. 105, the Stage Plays and Public Entertainment Act Cap. 49 and as well amend, the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019,” she said.
Nsereko’s bill among others seeks to amend section 22 and 23 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011 to prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorization from a parent or guardian and to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech respectively.
According to Dr. Zawedde, the proposals should be deleted from the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 because the proposed provisions in section 22 are already provided for under the Anti-Pornography Act, while proposed provisions in section 23 are already provided for under the Penal Code Act.
State Minister for ICT, Hon. Joyce Ssebugwawo said government is committed to continue digitizing government communications and administrative processes but can only do so with effective regulatory frameworks for online content management in place.
The Committee chairperson, Hon. Moses Magogo said that the ministry’s proposal to call for withdrawal of the Computer Misuse Bill will not stop the committee from processing the bill.
“ As a committee, we shall continue with our discussion and meeting other stakeholders. Allow us to internalize it and we shall definitely include the ministry’s opinion in the recommendation to Parliament,” Magogo said.
Mawogola South MP, Hon. Gorett Namugga asked the Ministry of ICT to share with Parliament their mid-term digital transformation plans to avoid duplication of bills from private members.