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Facebook Has Refused To Comply With Gov’t Demands – UCC

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has revealed that despite making a cocktail of demands upon which to be allowed to operate again in Uganda, social media giants, Facebook has refused to bow to pressure, because of Uganda’s weak bargaining team that has failed to make Facebook comply to Government’s demands.

The revelation was made by Meddy Kaggwa, Acting Director Industry and Content Development at UCC, while responding to concerns raised by lawmakers on Parliament’s Human Rights Committee who tasked the Commission to explain when the ban on Facebook would be lifted.
Kaggwa said, “There are ongoing discussions between Facebook and the government of Uganda to ensure that they commit to complying with the requirements of the government of Uganda for the safety of all of us. Once discussions are completed, I believe the government will update us in the decision taken and we will be able to enjoy Facebook and all other social media platforms.”
It should be recalled that in January 2021, President Museveni ordered UCC to block Facebook from operating in Uganda, days after the social media company removed fake accounts linked to NRM supporters ahead of the general elections, a decision the President described as arrogant.
Facebook defended the decision to take down the fake accounts, stating that the regime backers “used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were.
When the Human Rights Committee tasked to reveal when he thinks the negotiations will be concluded and ban further lifted, Waiswa was non-committal on the period owing to the fact that Uganda has weak bargaining power when pitted against their American counterparts that would compel Facebook to budge and this would require the help of the African continent as a whole, instead of Uganda approach the negotiations alone.
“Issues of getting these social media companies to comply with what African governments want, many commentators and even us as regulators have recommended that we have got to approach them as a continent because when we speak to Facebook as Africa, Facebook will be more keen to listen to you than you listen to them as Uganda with your 44million people with less than 4million people on Facebook,” Kaggwa said.
He further detailed the helpless position Uganda is in, to the extent that Government doesn’t know the actual revenue Facebook makes in Uganda and attempts to obtain this information from the Social media giants were futile as the company argued that the revenue obtained in Uganda is negligible.
“In fact when you tell them to explain to you the aggregate revenue they earn from Uganda as a country, they will tell you it is negligible. And that is partly the attitude towards our requirements isn’t so much favourable, but we hope that through our engagements a lot will be done to ensure that they comply with our requirements for the safety of our users,” added Kaggwa.
The development comes at the time Kenneth Muhangi, Partner at KTA Advocates while representing Electronic Trade Start-up Association of Uganda, asked MPs on the Information, Communication Technology And National Guidance Committee to lend a hand in discussions to have the ban on facebook lifted.
He urged, “We have been very vocal on the ban on facebook and I hope you can lend your voice to the efforts to try and unblock facebook because many businesses that operate on line as a means to advertise and sell their products.

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