Parliament has granted Kampala Central Member of Parliament, Muhammad Nsereko leave to introduce a private members bill amending the Computer Misuse Act.
Nsereko who first hinted at introducing the Bill last week says the law will solve the problem of fake and malicious information, which has been enhanced by the digital revolution.
“Tomorrow will be too late. Let us enact a law to regulate the freedom of speech to stop harassment of others,” Nsereko stated.
The bill proposes hefty fines, lengthy jail terms, a ban from holding public office and loss of office for convicted offenders.
Clause 2 of the Bill seeks to punish individuals who “without authorisation, accesses, intercepts another person’s data or information, voice or records another person” with a fine of Shs15 million or up to 10 years in jail or both imprisonment and fine.
Sending and sharing data about children without the authorisation of their parents or guardians on a computer and by extension social media, will become an offense punishable by seven years jail term, Shs15 million in fines or both, should clause 3 of the Bill be enacted into law.
Sending unsolicited messages to computer users will be criminalised under clause 4 of the Bill, an offence that Nsereko proposes should be punished by a seven-year jail term, a fine of Shs15 million or both imprisonment and fine.
Sharing of “misleading or malicious information about or relating to any person through a computer” is to be criminalised under clause 5 of the Bill, with a Shs15 million fine or a seven-year jail term or both such imprisonment and fine.
The Bill also seeks to bar individuals who have been convicted of the offences relating to this Bill from holding public offices or losing it for those already in office.
“A person who is convicted under this Act shall not be eligible to hold a public office for a period of 10 years. Where a person convicted under this Act is a leader or public officer, he or she shall, in addition to the prescribed punishment, be dismissed from or vacate office,” reads clause 6 of the Bill.
Nsereko said the Bill is necessitated by increasing cyber-harassment and abuses that he said go unpunished.
“Without strengthening the existing legislation with stringent measures to address the gaps, the technological abuse with its grave impact on health, human relations and society at large, will continue to escalate the violation of the right to privacy,” he said.
Nsereko said for likes and views on social media sites, unscrupulous individuals blackmail innocents, sometimes for money, a vice he said must be nipped in the bud.
Image by Parliament.