Privacy & Protection: Do Ugandans Care What Happens to Their Data?

Posted onApril 30, 2018 
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By Neema Iyer |

Let’s be honest.

When was the last time you read the “Terms and Conditions” before you signed up for a new service online?

We don’t blame you. It’s easy to get lost in the legal jargon.

But do you know what happens to your personal data every time you click on “I have agreed to terms and conditions”? Did you know at the mere click to accept, you could have given a way a portion of your vital information and put your data privacy in absolute jeopardy?

Today, it’s hard to raise the issue of data privacy without putting a thought on the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal that made many people realize the power of data. Even with as much information spewed out explaining what the scandal was about, very few took a note to learn from.

A recent allegation from the Cambridge Analytica scandal pins the Uhuru Kenyatta presidential campaign to have employed social media surveillance results to target campaign messages to different profiles of voters. This was possible because Facebook monitors your social media activity and can predict your behavior from that, hence such information is used to target messages that speak to your interests and emotions to sway major decisions such as election outcomes. This isn’t just happening on our doorsteps, allegations claim similar outcomes in the United States and the UK.

The EU revised as much on data privacy and protection in Europe and promised to give users more power over their data. While Europe seems to take quick action, down in Uganda and Africa at large, we continue to grapple with weak data privacy and protection laws, a citizenry that is not well-informed on data privacy, a delay in passing necessary bills and weak implementation processes. Unfortunately, a majority of African countries lack the necessary mechanisms for the inclusive participation of citizens and other stakeholders in the processes of formulating the very laws on internet and digital rights that directly affect them.

Do we care about Data Privacy and Protection?

In December 2017, Unwanted Witness, an activists group petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) to compel Parliament to speed up the enactment of privacy and data protection law.

They argued that without a governing law, citizens’ personal data is exposed to abuse without collection and protection safeguards. They further asked UHRC to prioritize privacy and recognize it as a fundamental right under attack in the country. However, to date, we are yet to see significant action taken to build an informed citizenry on their digital rights and to provide appropriate protections.

When talk about data arises, many are not really willing to delve further into the ethics surrounding the topic. This can and will still be attributed to the high illiteracy levels in the country and because many don’t know what data is or how valuable it might be on the long run, they will give it away easily. Funny as it may sound, a majority internet users think ‘data’ is the a term tied to the internet bundles that the ISPs provide and it’s that school of thought that has stuck with them. Whether their data gets in the hands of the wrong or the right people, it’s the least of their concerns.

Data Protection basically means to ensure the right to privacy, respect to confidentiality principles in various relations such as doctor patient, employer-employee and service providers with their clients generally.

Did you know that privacy is your human right?

The right to privacy refers to the concept that one’s personal information is protected from public scrutiny. It is essentially, your right to be left alone. Privacy is a core aspect of human dignity and values such as freedom of association and freedom of speech.

One would wonder, even with the data privacy breaches, are there really laws in place to curb and punish those that are misusing people’s data and evading on their privacy or we are simply looking while our data gets tampered with and is easily handed to the wrong hands.

Are there Laws in Place?

Yes! There is a Ugandan Data Protection and Privacy Bill that was tabled before parliament in 2015 and although the Bill needs to be revised and aligned better with human rights provisions, comments have been raised on the need to balance civil liberties, national security and data protection and privacy.

According to a paper published a couple of years ago by Dr Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala a Senior Lecturer of Human Rights and Peace Centre at Makerere University, Article 27 of the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy of person, home and other property. In particular, article 27(2) of the Constitution provides that a person shall not be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property.

Unfortunately there is no comprehensive law giving effect to article 27, yet a lot of data concerning individuals are collected, stored or processed regularly by various institutions in the private and public sector, including banks, hospitals, insurance companies, the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Board, the Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Registration Services Bureau, the Electoral Commission, utility service providers and telecommunications companies under the SIM card registration exercise

The Bill seeks to protect the privacy of the individual and personal data by regulating the collection and processing of personal information. It provides for the rights of persons whose data is collected and the obligations of data collectors and data processors; and regulates the use or disclosure of personal information.

However even with these laws and bills in place, further questions continue to be raised on whether they even hold any solid ground in implementation, especially, if there has not been enough sensitization of the bills and data literacy.


What do some people think about data privacy in Uganda?

A chat with a few random Ugandans around town shows you just how long of a way we have to go with the data privacy and protection talk.

“I honestly have nothing to hide with my data and anyone who wants to access it can go ahead and access it. Your data can only be private if you choose to keep it private but if you choose to put it out there and later claim for privacy, then you are playing yourself” — Lisa

“Whatever you put out there is public. I don’t really care who gets my data because once Ipost anything on social media, it’s no longer in any way private. I get a need for data privacy if it comes to my business data like emails. That is when i need some real privacy” — Hans

“Data privacy is not even a topic of debating here in Uganda because people don’t really care what happens with their data. Because we have a huge Internet penetration gap, very many people don’t even know what data is in most parts of africa.” — Emmanuel


CIPESA-ICT4Democracy Academia Fellowship Programme

Posted onMarch 20, 2018 
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Fellowship Opportunity |

Do you have an idea on #ICT #ICT4D which you’d like to explore? Submit your idea to the CIPESA-ICT4Democracy #Media or #Academia Fellowship Programme. The next deadline is April 1st!! See links below.




CIPESA-ICT4Democracy Media Fellowship Programme

Posted onMarch 20, 2018 
Filed under Blog, News and tagged , , | Leave a Comment

Fellowship Opportunity |

Do you have an idea on #ICT #ICT4D which you’d like to explore? Submit your idea to the CIPESA-ICT4Democracy #Media or #Academia Fellowship Programme. The next deadline is April 1st!! See links below



Promoting Public Accountability in Education and Agriculture Sectors in Rwenzori Region

Posted onFebruary 27, 2018 
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News Update|

The agriculture and education sectors are identified among the primary growth sectors in the Uganda’s National Development Plan. However, despite consistent state budget allocation increments in recent years and high absorption rates, various challenges persist at implementation and service delivery. For instance, in the Financial Year 2015/16, the education sector under primary education, planned to construct 22 primary schools and 200 classrooms but only one school and two classrooms were constructed. Indeed, in the Rwenzori region in western Uganda, citizens are decrying poor services under government programmes.

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Solving Uganda’s Challenges through Data & Service Design

Posted onDecember 11, 2017 
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data and service design uganda

By Neema Iyer

Last week, we asked “What is Service Design?” and answered our question with “Service design is the process of taking a service and better tailoring it to the needs and wants of the end user, whether that’s a client, customer or in the case of civic service design, the citizen. It could be improving an existing service, or creating a new service totally from scratch.”

On December 5th, Pollicy and the Collaboration in International ICT Policy for Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA) brought back the civic technology community in Uganda, but this time, with a focus on data and design. As issues of data ownership, digital security, censorship become more pertinent in our society, so does the need to appropriately harness the benefits of big data. Through a series of interesting panel discussions, lightening talks and a hands-on design training, we took participants through a journey on how data can be used to revolutionize how citizens and governments interact for mutual benefit.

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Harnessing the Data Revolution for National Development: The Case of Uganda

Posted onDecember 4, 2017 
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By Loyce Kyogabirwe|



The United Nations (UN) has recognised data as a key factor for achieving and monitoring sustainable development. Indeed, the push for open data that contributes to government transparency and accountability and promotes citizens’ right to information and innovation through the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector continues to gain prominence globally, including in Africa.

In Uganda, the government is geared towards contributing to the emerging data revolution for sustainable development. Since 2016, the country has been party to the African Charter of Statistics and is also working to implement the UN Fundamental Principles of National Official Statistics as well as the Cape Town Action Plan. Uganda has also developed the National Development Plan and is party to regional development agendas such as Agenda 2063 and the East African Community’s Vision 2050.

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Use of ICT to Improve the Health of Preterm Infants in Kenya

Posted onNovember 28, 2017 
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Image result for image of a mother using a phone while carrying her baby

Neonatal mortality remains a key issue of public health concern in Kenya and currently stands at 22 per 1,000 live births [2]. Premature births (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation) accounts for 12% of all under 5 mortality in Kenya and approximately over 180,000 infants in Kenya are born prematurely every year [3]. Preterm infants need admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where care is mainly focused on infants thus neglecting the role of mothers. Most mothers of infants born prematurely often suffer from depression, grief, and guilt, which are rooted in not giving birth to a healthy baby [1,10]. Extended periods of separation from the baby, the absence of information or lack of understanding, loss of parental roles, fear of possible outcome and lack of communication with health care providers aggravate the difficulties experienced by mothers regarding prematurity [9, 10].

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What is Civic Service Design? A tale of Citizen Satisfaction in Uganda and beyond

Posted onNovember 27, 2017 
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civic service design uganda

By Neema Iyer

As a taxpayer in Uganda, trying to access services that you are fully entitled to can be a serious headache. Take for example, the process of procuring a passport for the first time. Most of us have been there and might prefer to get a root canal procedure instead of repeating the process. You may say that these processes were designed without any direction. And you might be right!

Civic Tech Passport Application Uganda

Fictional application process for a new passport

Civic Technology in Uganda: A Data & Design Perspective

Posted onNovember 23, 2017 
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Workshop |

Are you a techie that’s looking to harness technology and design for the public good? Are you part of a government department or civil society organization interested in how data can improve public service delivery? Want to know what “service design” is all about? Then, this is the event for you!

We have partnered with Pollicy, a civic technology organisation and are excited to bring you the latest in civic technology in Uganda, with a focus on data and design. As issues of data ownership, digital security, censorship become more pertinent in our society, so does the need to appropriately harness the benefits of big data.

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Study Reveals that a Culture of Secrecy Among Public Officials Hinders Media Work in Tanzania

Posted onOctober 31, 2017 
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By MISA Tanzania Correspondent |

A prevailing culture of secrecy among public officials in Tanzania at both central and local government levels is hindering the work of journalists, according to findings by a recent study. This is affecting access to information necessary for media reporting towards increased civic participation, transparency and accountability in governance.

The study which was conducted by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Tanzania Chapter in partnership with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) assessed the responsiveness of local government authorities (LGAs) and central government offices in Tanzania to citizens’ information requests.

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