Authors / Contributors: Dr.Drake Mirembe, Prof.Jude Lubega, Prof.Martha Kibuka Musoke, Ms.Fiona Nambogo and John Paul Ategeka
Information Communication Technologies like the Internet and Social media, have proliferated all aspects of human life; from education, health, business to entertainment. Given the unique position of ICTs in the current knowledge-based society, internet has become a pivotal tool in the enjoyment of human rights. Internet and associated technologies provide opportunities for parties to interact and increase access to information, a key digital right.
Furthermore, the internet continues to open up opportunities for interaction between right holders and duty bearers, granting the ordinary citizens a right to seek accountability from duty bearers (state and other agencies). The emergence of web 3.0 (the sematic web) driver by artificial intelligence, continues to narrow the digital divide among the disadvantaged communities like persons with disabilities.
Given the unique role of ICT like social media in increasing access to information and shaping opinion of citizens, many authoritarian governments around the world are taking steps aimed at undermining internet access and affordability, and weaken the potential of digital technologies to catalyze free expression and to drive innovation.
The number of internet users in Uganda has grown exponentially from less than 40,000 around 2000 to slightly over 10 million in 2020, with social media penetration estimated at about 5.6% of the urban population. Currently, internet penetration per population size is around 24.5% in Uganda according to World Bank project. The growth in Internet usage has in equal measures attracted interest from the state to control monitor users’ Internet activities using sophisticated technology and legal restrictions to control what citizens do or say online justifying the repression as necessary for public order, morality or security.
Although the Internet can be a powerful democratization tool but it can facilitate real time abuse of fundamental rights and freedoms. As part of science led advocacy approach, Unwanted Witness has over the years documented trends and threats to digital rights and Internet freedoms in Uganda. The work of Unwanted Witness and other studies continue to show the growing desire by the state to shrink access and enjoyment of digital rights in the name of maintaining public safety and order. In Uganda, the use of internet has been critical in terms of accessing information but limited for certain issues bringing about the preposition for this study. This situation has ruined the enjoyment of human rights in Uganda over the years. This defines the aim of study which was to find out the ambiguities in the policies that limit the development of internet governance principles.
In line with the identified setbacks, Unwanted Witness (UW) Uganda commissioned this study as part of evidence based advocacy approach to strengthen the effectiveness and enjoyment of digital rights in Uganda.
The study focused on addressing the following key objectives;
• Build on the existing knowledge about digital rights and Internet governance in Uganda.
• Investigate factors hindering the enjoyment of digital rights and Internet Freedoms in Uganda.
• Attain recommendations for policy formulation and review for digital rights enjoyment.