The Ministry of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) and National Guidance has asked MPs to halt consideration of the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
The bill, tabled before Parliament by Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko (pictured), seeks to amend Section 12 of the Computer Misuse Act to criminalize hacking of another person’s electronic device and publishing information obtained therefrom. The bill also proposes that no person shall write, send or share information which is likely to ridicule, degrade or demean another person, tribe, religion or gender.
Also proposed is that a person who accesses another person’s data or information, voice or video records and shares information that relates to another person commits an offence. It also seeks to prohibit sharing of information relating to a child without authorization from a parent or guardian, and sharing of false, malicious and unsolicited information.
Nsereko proposed a 15 million Shillings fine or 7 years’ imprisonment or both for the offence and that those found guilty and convicted should be barred from holding public office for 10 years.
But Dr Aminah Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary of the ICT Ministry asked that the bill should be withdrawn.
Dr Zawedde told the committee that the Ministry of ICT is in a process of developing the Information and Communications Bill, a holistic and encompassing law addressing gaps in the different Acts governing the sector. She, together with the State Minister for ICT Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, was appearing before Parliament’s Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) committee on Tuesday.
Whereas Cabinet advised the Ministry to work with MP Nsereko regarding the Bill, Dr Zawedde said that it was prudent that the proposed amendments are withdrawn so that a more comprehensive Bill is presented by December 2022. She told MPs that the draft principles of the Bill are already before Cabinet awaiting clearance.
“We currently have overlaps and decided to come up with the Information and Communications Bill, 2022 to be the encompassing Bill for the sector. We are reviewing all the Acts in the ICT sector including the Computer Misuse Act,” she said.
Dr Zawedde said that the Information and Communications Bill, 2022 would provide for regulation and management of media content and that this will address the proposal raised in the Bill tabled by MP Nsereko.
Dr Zawedde also observed that Nsereko’s proposals are already provided for under the Penal Code Act, the Anti-Pornography Act and other laws.
She added that the Ministry’s bill will harmonize and strengthen regulatory provisions in the existing laws and it will ensure the repeal of the Press and Journalism Act, the Stage Plays and Public Entertainment Act and also amend the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019.
Joyce Ssebugwawo, the Minister of State for ICT said that the government was committed to ensuring effective regulatory frameworks for online content. She said that her Ministry will engage Nsereko in a view of coming up with a harmonized position on his proposed amendments.
Mawogola South MP Gorett Namugga raised concern about the recommendation by the Ministry saying that this intends to frustrate efforts by private Members of Parliament. She asked the Ministry to avail the midterm digital transformation plans to avoid duplication of Bills.
Moses Magogo, the committee Chairperson said that the proposal by the Ministry to halt consideration of the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 will not stop the committee process.