Page 1 of the UCC letter

Guru8 is in receipt of a letter dated 9th December 2020, wherein Uganda’s Communications Regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission alias UCC is writing to Google asking that the technology giant blocks access to 8 Ugandan YouTube Channels that are accused of spreading propaganda during the currently ongoing country’s digital campaigns.

The channels in question include Ghetto TV, TMO Online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel Ug, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Busesa Media Updates and Uganda Empya that are mainly run by and for the opposition, something that they have in common.

UCC claims to get its grounds from a pile of complaints to it by the government and the police who claim that digital channels like Google’s YouTube are being used to “publish, disseminate and or broadcast content that is contrary” to Ugandan law, provisions that the Commission laboured to spell for Google.

These YouTube Channels are accused of misrepresenting information, views, facts, and events in a manner that likely to mislead the public, videos contain extremist and anarchic messages that could incite violence, they compromise national security and cause economic sabotage, report events in a sensational, unbalanced, unprofessional and partisan manner, broadcasts contain gruesome (graphic) pictures, and glorify lawlessness while undermining public interest and confidence in law and its enforcement.

UCC goes on to cite several laws for their mandate to justify their letter, expecting that Google would respond to the same. However, from past experience, compliance is unlikely.

It should be noted that last time the Ugandan government wrote to Big Tech was in the case against an anonymous Facebook blogger (TVO) seeking that the media giant declare his/her or their identity, a request that was denied owing to the nature of request that was seen to clamp on guaranteed freedoms of expression and free speech, a declaration that would also go against one’s protected right to privacy, to remain anonymous if need be.