As digital services become more basic for life, one would say without fear of contradiction that digital rights comprise most freedoms such as of speech, expression, association, education and privacy, among others.
This was a conclusion of many at the three-day workshop in Entebbe, on Digital Rights organised by Article 9 and Unwanted Witness, civil society organisations based in Kenya and Uganda respectively.
The workshop brought together practitioners in the fields of Information and Communication Technologists, government, human rights, media, and civil society among others.
With a growing number of countries mining personal data for selfish interests, there is increasing need to protect data of private citizens across the world. Among topics discussed included why citizens deserve right to privacy and data protection, in the age of sim card and biometric registrations.
About 107 countries in the world have passed data protection laws, and in Africa, only 24 – yet most of these laws are repressive.
Mr Nyombi Thembo, former ICT state minister and now director of the Rural Development Fund (RCDF) under the Uganda Communication Commission, said, Uganda’s data protection bill is still at the second reading.
Mr Thembo took participants through a number of activities done by his agency, to expand the reach and access of digital services, particularly in schools with support from the private entities such as MTN.
RCDF has a Sh30 billion resource envelope but Nyombi said he needs more than Sh200 billion to meet the demand of ICT services in his office.
Article 19 says there are fair principles for consumers of digital services to be more aware of in order to defend their data and privacy including; Data portability where one is free to receive their data from one service provider to another; Right to object; Right to erasure as in demanding data to be deleted when not needed for use anymore; Right to rectification as well as Right to access information of an individual among others.
Unwanted Witness rallied Ugandan civil society organisations to work together, for meaningful engagements with entities that infringe on rights of citizens, whether it is telecom companies or the state itself.
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