Google asked by UCC to block YouTube access to Ghetto TV owned by Bobi Wine and other 13 online channels.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has asked Google to block YouTube access to Bobi Wine’s Ghetto TV, and other 13 online channels.
- UCC said the listed accounts did not hold licenses and violated the law by using YouTube.
- The regulator is trying to enforce the law, all the affected accounts are linked to Bobi Wine.
- Google, said: “it is very difficult to remove a channel at the request of the government.”
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In a December 9, 2020 letter sent by the UCC to Google’s CEO in the United States, the channels stated that they were using YouTube to violate Ugandan law.
”The commission has been receiving complaints from stakeholders, including the Ugandan police force, the Minister of Internal Affairs (as head of the National Security Council), and has been monitoring the release of communications services, sites and networks, including YouTube. Broadcast and/or dissemination of content contrary to Regulation 8 (2) of the Uganda Communications Act of 2013 and the Uganda Communications (Content Regulations 2019)”, reads part of the letter.
The YouTube channels in question include;
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- TMO Online
- Lumbuye Fred
- Trending Channel Ug
- Uganda Yaffe
- Uganda News Updates
- Ghetto TV
- Busesa Media Updates
- Uganda Empya
- MAP Mediya TV
- KK TV
- Ekyooto TV
- Namungo Media
- JB Muwonge
- Bobi Wine 2021
The regulator is trying to enforce the law, which is a coincidence that the affected accounts are linked to Bobi Wine, a Ugandan pop star–turned-member of parliament and now a presidential candidate in the 2021 Uganda elections.
Authorities accused broadcasters of instigating fatal protests last month triggered by Bobi Wine’s arrest for allegedly violating the restrictions on COVID-19 through mass rallies.
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has repeatedly criticized longtime President Yoweri Museveni for failing to tackle corruption and unemployment and for the government’s human rights record.
Over the last two years, he has been arrested on a number of counts, including treason.
UCC said that the information, opinions, facts, and events that are misrepresented by these YouTube channels are likely to mislead and incite violence against segments of the public on account of their tribes and political opinions.
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The UCC said that the information, views, facts and events of these YouTube channels” are susceptible to mislead, trigger, and encourage violence against sections of the public because of their tribes and their political opinions.
According to Section 27 of the Content Regulation Act, a person who does not broadcast in Uganda without a broadcasting license issued by the UCC commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding twenty-five currency points or imprisonment.
The UCC said the listed accounts did not hold licenses and violated the law by using YouTube.
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“Therefore, as the regulator of the Department of Communications in Uganda and under Sections 5 (1) (b), (j), (X), 6 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission hereby compels Google to restrict access to the following accounts”.
Earlier this year, the UCC advised all online content providers to register with the Regulator without fail. Many content providers, however, undermine this order and continue to operate in an unrestricted manner.
Presidential press secretary Don Wanyama said in a tweet that the government has the right to verify the irresponsible reporting.
“There is no restriction on the media engaging in responsible journalism. But if you think you will use new media tools to incite tribal sentiment and support violence, the government has every right to verify you. There are plenty of examples of unspoken loss by the irresponsible press,” he said.
Google responds to UCC
Dorothy Ooko, head of communications and public affairs for Africa at Google, said: “it is very difficult to remove a channel at the request of the government.”
She gave a quick and concise response to a letter from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) asking Google to block 17 YouTube accounts that had largely published or live streaming content from the campaign trail of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi.