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    Government Indirectly Exposing  Data Of Ugandans Using VPN After ICT Ministry Blocked Social Media- Top NGO Unwanted Witness Reveals…



    Many Ugandans using VPN are exposing their privacy to trackers


    On January 13th, 2021, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ordered for the immediate shutdown of the entire internet and all social media platforms. Every wireless transaction was put to a standstill right from mobile money services to banking operations.

    Later after the presidential elections, the internet was switched back on but social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and others were exempted, pushing Ugandans to resort to using Virtual Private Network (VPN).

    Well, did you know the repercussions this new solution to internet censorship has brought about?

    A human rights organization known as Unwanted Witness has come out to sensitize the country about the dangers of using VPN.

    The Nongovernmental organization says that Ugandans are unknowingly surrendering their information to the private network proprietors who own the online services.

    Unwanted Witness says that privacy, data safety and trust are being eroded in Uganda as government censorship intensifies.

    Ever since the election period, the Ugandan government has threatened to arrest people accessing social media via VPN, although Ugandans have paid a deaf ear.

    If we are to refer to the recent comments from Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo, the blocking of social media is not likely to end soon, which means more Ugandans will continue using VPN.

    The state asserts that opposition politicians use social media platforms to incite violence, reason why they were blocked in Uganda.

    Chris Kalema, the Lead Technologist at Unwanted Witness, says that use of VPNs in our daily lives creates an addiction but they siphon our data in form of names, addresses to do behavioral analytics for marketing and profiling.

    Kalema explained that; “This information is transferred to third party users or the makers of these Apps without the users’ consent.”

    He added that; “VPNs are designed with codes that have trackers that the users may never know and unfortunately Ugandans are using them without any clarity.”

    The group contends that throughout the election process, Unwanted Witness observed increased use of technology by security agencies for surveillance on street protests and opposition political rallies, with intent to limit dissenting voices.

    “This has resulted into arrests and disappearance of an unidentified number of youths and scores of deaths,” Kalema noted.

    He added that; “The elections also posed another risk to people’s privacy, as there was lack of public scrutiny in the use of biometric machines to verify voters, and unfamiliar results transmission systems generated mistrust between citizens and the Electoral Commission, thereby jeopardizing the credibility of the process.”

    As a move to curb the spread of COVID -19, the Electoral Commission instructed political candidates to use digital platforms to scour the country for votes, but the group says it witnessed an unprecedented illegal use of people’s data by politicians.

    “Political parties were not transparent about their data processing activities, including publicly identifying the mechanisms they used to engage with voters, like social media, websites, and direct messaging, and how they collected people’s data, what data they collected, and the sources of it and how they used it,” Kalema noted.

    “The Electoral Commission failed to have in place effective safeguards (Binding code of conduct/Regulations) that reflected changes in digital campaigning,” Dorothy Mukasa, the Executive Director of Unwanted Witness Uganda, said.

    “By doing this, they would have fulfilled their mandate established under Article 60 and Article 61 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 (as amended) to organise, conduct and supervise regular, free and fair elections and referenda, among other functions,” she added.

    She noted that one of the qualities of a trusted data collector is the ability to be transparent and accountable to the data subjects as enshrined in Section 3 (a) and (f) of the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019.

    The human rights group also alleged that statutory agencies that use people’s data, like the Electoral Commission or National Identification and Registration Agency (NIRA) which gather, use, disclose and manage a person’s data, do not have a Privacy Policy.

    “This lack of transparency led to voters missing out on the voting exercise because the voters’ register was unclean with voters’ names repeated, name-face mismatches and deletion of some voters’ names from the register,” the group claims.

    It also urges the government of Uganda to expedite the enactment of Data Protection and Privacy regulations for effective enforcement of the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, and to fully restore internet to avoid data manipulation risks that come with the use of VPN.


    By John Kenny Adenya



    NRM Urges Farmers To Embrace Parish Development Model



    The National Resistance Movement (NRM), through the NRM deputy Secretary-General Rt. Hon. Rose Nsereko Namayanja, has urged farmers to embrace the Parish Development Model in order to boost their productivity.

    Namayanja told farmers to embrace PDM at a function where she was installed as the new patron of Balandiza Kirose Kasamba Kajansi Association at Kasuku children center in Kajansi, Wakiso.

    “I encourage you to embrace government programs like the Parish Development Model (PDM), Emyooga, and other poverty alleviation projects to boost your productivity and uplift your livelihoods,” she said.

    Namayanja told farmers that the best politics that can unite them is that of development and urged them to educate their children to foster community development.

    “The best politics that can bring us together is the politics of development where we don’t segregate anyone. I urge you to focus on educating your children because education is the biggest investment any parent can give to their children which in turn leads to the development of your community,”Namayanja said.

    Namayanja was appointed patron Balandiza Kirose Kasamba Kajansi Association following the death of Mathia Kasamba the association’s former patron. The association unites farmers from the cells of Nakawuka and Kasuku parishes in Kajansi.

    Namayanja welcomed her new role as the association’s patron and called upon the members to work in unison with her and utilise the available resources to develop themselves.

    “I accept to be your patron and I encourage you to be at the forefront in fighting poverty among the livelihoods in your communities. Let us work together by using the available resources to develop economically,”she said.

    The NRM deputy Secretary-General added that; There is indeed a scarcity of land in this area but you can do a lot with the small piece of land you have. We are privileged to have two rainy seasons and I urge all farmers to take advantage of the rains and plant crops. As we do farming, let’s focus on the quality of our products so that we take advantage of the available market within Kampala.

    Namayanja told farmers to work differently and remain united and pledged that government will continue supporting the farmers’ association by equipping them with new knowledge to enable them acquire new farming skills.



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    I Am Tired Of Borrowing – Finance Minister Matia Kasaija



    Minister in charge of finance Matia Kasaija has expressed his frustration with the the habit of government borrowing funds to finance its budget.

    Kasaija said Tuesday at the launch of the Public Investment Financing Strategy (PIFS) at Sherston Hotel that government should look for alternatives and stop borrowing.

    “I am tired of borrowing…We must look for other ways how we can raise funds to develop Uganda other than borrowing,” he said.

    Kasaija said PIFS will help government raise funds since borrowing and grants are not sufficient enough to fund government programmes.

    “The implementation of this financing strategy is a priority of government. Borrowing and grants are necessary but not sufficient options for funding all government programmes,” he said.

    The minister of finance noted that Uganda has an annual financing gap of about 33 trillion shillings, given approximately 49 trillion that is budgeted for annually.

    According to Kasaija about 411 trillion is needed to finance all government programmes.

    At the end of 2022, Uganda had a debt of about 80 trillion. This was revealed by the Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda, Michael Atingi-Ego.


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    Attorney General, DPP Oppose Anti-Homosexuality Bill



    The Attorney General and the deputy director of Public prosecutions (DPP) have opposed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023.

    While appearing before the parliamentary committee on legal affairs on March 18th, the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka said the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a duplication of existing laws.

    “Our criminalisation of homosexuality clause 9 of the new is a duplication since it is catered for in CAP 120 of the penal code,” he said.

    The Attorney General said the penal code is supposed to be the main penal law of the county, adding that it is hard to detect, investigate, prosecute and sentence homosexuals since the act is done in private.

    The deputy director of Public prosecutions James Odumbi was in agreement with the Attorney General.

    However, officials from the Ministry of gender labour and social development supported the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

    Hellen Asamo (state Minister for disability affairs) and Rose Lilly Akello (state Minister for ethics and Intergrity) both agreed that it was important to have the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023.

    These argued that the Bill, if passed, will protect the cherished cultural values of Uganda and protect children against the acts of sexual minority rights activists.

    Abdul Katuntu told the committee that, though homosexuals do the act in private, crimes are not only committed against individuals but society.

    President Museveni said Thursday that he needed a scientific opinion on homosexuality and that the subject would be discussed conclusively another time.

    The parliamentary committee on legal affairs is currently scrutinising the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 that was spearhead by MP Asuman Basalirwa.


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