This is an Act to make provision for the safety and security of electronic transactions and information systems; to prevent unlawful access, abuse or misuse of information systems including computers and to make provision for securing the conduct of electronic transactions in a trustworthy electronic environment and to provide for other related matters
Key highlights of the Act
- Securing access – A person secures access to any program or data held in a computer if that person— views, alters or erases the program or data; copies or moves it to any storage medium other than that in which it is held or to a different location in the storage medium in which it is held; uses or destroys it; or causes it to be output from the computer in which it is held whether by having it displayed or in any other manner.
- Authorised access – Access by a person to any program or data held in a computer is authorised if— the person is entitled to control access to the program or data in question; or the person has consent to access that program or data from any person who is charged with giving that consent.
- Modification of contents – A modification of the contents of any computer takes place if, by the operation of any function of the computer concerned or any other computer connected to it result into— a program, data or data message held in the computer concerned being altered or erased; or a program, data or data message being added to its contents.
- Preservation order – An investigative officer may apply to court for an order for the expeditious preservation of data that has been stored or processed by means of a computer system or any other information and communication technologies, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that such data is vulnerable to loss or modification.
- Production order – Where the disclosure of data is required for the purposes of a criminal investigation or the prosecution of an offence, an investigative officer may apply to court for an order compelling— any person to submit specified data in that person’s possession or control, which is stored in a computer system; and any service provider offering its services to submit subscriber information in relation to such services in that service provider’s possession or control.
- The Computer Misuse Act, 2011 also establishes offences including;
- Unauthorised access; A person who intentionally accesses or intercepts any program or data without authority or permission to do so commits an offence.
- Unauthorised modification of computer material; A person who—(a) does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer; and (b) has the requisite intent and the requisite knowledge at the time when he or she does the act, commits an offence.
- Unauthorised obstruction of use of computer; A person who, knowingly and without authority or lawful excuse—(a)interferes with or interrupts or obstructs the lawful use of, a computer; or(b)impedes or prevents access to or impairs the usefulness or effectiveness of any program or data stored in a computer, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and forty currency points or to imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both; and in the case of a subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding three hundred and sixty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years or both.
- Electronic fraud; A person who carries out electronic fraud commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred and sixty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years or both.
- Abetment and attempts; A person who abets another person in committing an offence under this Act, commits that offence and is liable on conviction to the punishment prescribed for the offence. (2) Any person who attempts to commit any offence under this Act commits that offence and is liable on conviction to the punishment prescribed for the offence.
- Child pornography; A person who—(a)produces child pornography for the purposes of its distribution through a computer;(b) offers or makes available child pornography through a computer;(c) distributes or transmits child pornography through a computer;(d) procures child pornography through a computer for himself or herself or another person; or(e) unlawfully possesses child pornography on a computer, commits an offence.
- Cyber harassment; A person who commits cyber harassment is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding seventy-two currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both. (2) For purposes of this section cyber harassment is the use of a computer for any of the following purposes—(a)making any request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent;(b) threatening to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person; or(c)knowingly permits any electronic communications device to be used for any of the purposes mentioned in this section.
- Offensive communication; Any person who wilfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues commits a misdemeanour and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
- Cyber stalking; Any person who wilfully, maliciously, and repeatedly uses electronic communication to harass another person and makes a threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or to a member of that person’s immediate family commits the crime of cyber stalking and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.
Key Issues and Analysis
The Computer Misuse Act, 2011 has been at the forefront in the fight by the state against persons not in favour of the current regime in Uganda Courts today; the likes of Dr. Stella Nyanzi and most recently Novelist Kakwenza. Nonetheless, there are number of law and policy gaps in the current legal regime particularly when it comes to addressing the thin line between free speech and offensive communication.
There is an amendment in offing titled; The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the object of the Bill tabled by Kampala Central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko, is to “enhance the provisions on unauthorised access to information or data; to prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian; [and] to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech”.