Authorities in Uganda say bloggers and others publishing or broadcasting online must register with authorities, drawing criticism from some who see it as an attack on free speech ahead of next year’s election.

The Uganda Communications Commission in a statement on Monday said bloggers and online news sites must seek the necessary authorization with it by Oct. 5.

A spokesman for the agency told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the directive was provoked in part by “an avalanche of people interested in opening online media.”

“We know that if these tools are misused, they can lead to trouble,” Ibrahim Bbosa said of social media.

With election campaigning effectively banned by orders aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, Uganda’s social media scene has become even more vibrant in recent months.

The election pits a longtime president with a youthful opponent in a reflection of generation gap seen across much of Africa. About 17 million of Uganda’s mostly youthful population of 41 million are active internet users, according to government figures.

Ugandan authorities in recent years have been accused of trying to suppress online activities, including by imposing a tax targeting social media users that has been in force since July 2018. The tax is charged daily to access all social media websites and apps.

Source: AP

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