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UCC’s Sim Card Registration Directive Illegal-Lawyers

Lawyers, through their body, Uganda Law Society (ULS) have lashed out at Government, through Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) over a directive to re-register all sim cards within seven days, saying the order is illegal.

In their letter addressed to Godfrey Mutabazi, the Executive Director at UCC, the lawyers argued that the directive isn’t supported with any laws in the country.

USL argues that the directive to have Ugandans to use only the National Identity Card as means to have their sim cards registered is unreasonable and contravenes other legal frame work.

The Society cited out the Regulations of Interception of Communications Instrument N0.42 of 2011 which specify the identification documentation that are legally accepted, and wondered why UCC could zero out on only the National ID.

 

“This law under regulation 7(3) allows valid identification documents recognized and issued by Government agencies such as National Identity cards, Work permits, National passports, Driving License, Student Identity Card and voter’s cards to be used for registration. If one form of identification is going to be preferred, then these regulations will have to first be amended,” read in part ULC’s letter to Mutabazi.

The Law Society also protested the time allocated for the exercise, arguing it has been given in bad faith and in total disregard of consumer rights.

ULS now wants the time for the exercise to be extended so as to allow people without National IDs to acquire them, arguing that the time given in the directive is unreasonable.

“The time allocated to the exercise is very limited and it is not possible that NIRA has the capacity to ensure that all Ugandans who use mobile phones can be registered for National Identity Card in seven days (four days of which are public holidays),” the lawyers argued.

Yet still, the lawyers say UCC should give assurance of protection of data submitted by Ugandans by putting in place requisite laws to protect their information.

“Whereas we have noted that on this occasion data will be shared, we are of the view that the Bill on data protection needs to be passed urgently. UCC should ensure the existence of appropriate privacy safeguards and data protection policies. This is critical for building consumer confidence,” they argued.

The lawyers have also warned Government against making panicky decisions, saying there is need by Government to originate a more comprehensive law to govern sim card registration.

Additionally, the legal minds have also cautioned Government against hiding behind the smoke screen of terror threats to contravene the laws they are mandated to enforce.

The Society counselled; “We acknowledge the nature of security threats posed by unlicensed Sim Cards and the mandate of UCC to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate communications services to deal with the threats. We are of the view that the directive should not be in violation of the existing legal framework.”

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