Ugandans are no strangers to social media blackouts, in fact we have has two so far, during the presidential elections and also on the day of the presidential Inauguration. Speaking at the ongoing three-day Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) ICT minister’s forum last week, Ugandan Communications Commission, UCC ED Godfrey Mutabazi aired his concerns about social media and emphasized issue to do with privacy, data protection, hate speech, incitement, bullying and copyright issues are driving the need for regulation.
Mutabazi noted that “self-regulation is not sufficient and that additional regulatory tools such as public supervision, legislations or even administrative measures are required in the digital and convergent online platform¡±. “There is need for a better – or at the very least – law reform of the current domestic legal regulation and traditional legal framework to reflect the technological advancement and participatory nature of social media¡± he said.
The Head of Public Policy, Africa, Facebook, Ebele Okobi, said that OTT services has been instrumental in generating substantial income for operators and expressed concerns that regulation of OTT would stifle innovation in the ecosystem.
In contrast, Graham Butler, CEO of Bitek Global Ltd observed that OTT services have led to steady decline in revenue which is caused by unlicensed large-scale operators engaged in a range of cyber fraud.
Law Professor Ian Walden, of Queen Mary University of London, on his part said “building cyber walls by nations, is likely to create the suppression of human rights, but on the one other hand law and regulation protecting public interest is necessary. The three day meeting which was opened by the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Secretariat attracted over 150 participants from the Commonwealth fraternity from the both the private and public sector.
The meeting discussed a range of issues among others, the developing role of the regulators, broadband development, cybersecurity implementation and benefits and challenges of OTT services.