Parliament yesterday passed the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 targeting critical voices online.
The legislation that has been panned by a list of stakeholders, including the Ministry of ICT’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Aminah Zawedde, who requested that it be withdrawn, proposes a raft of punitive measures against people who send malicious information, hate speech, unsolicited information and sharing information about children without the consent of their parents or guardians.
It also criminalises the writing, sending or sharing of any information through a computer, which is likely to ridicule, degrade or demean another person, group of persons, tribe, ethnicity, religion, or gender; create divisions among persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; and or, promote hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity group, a religion or gender.
Though passed with modifications to the original draft, the Bill places a criminal burden on citizens who would want to put to account those responsible for managing the day-to-day affairs of the country and imposes heavy penalties on such citizens who may share information the authorities deem malicious on social media.
The Bill was passed with scarcely any audible yes to combustible proposals put to the MPs for consideration.