Uganda is an interesting case study of how not to do technology policy. The default answer to any problem remotely linked to the Internet is to either regulate, ban, shutdown, or introduce a social media tax.

Uganda is so bad it once claimed to have paid for and ordered a porn-blocking machine that actually never even arrived. Instead, when the government couldn’t run with that story anymore, it ended up ordering ISPs to block Internet porn sites.

However, to be fair, the M7 (MuSEVENi) disease is not unique to the east African country. It’s also not unique to Africa. During 2019 at VIVA Tech which was held in Paris, it’s reported that the world’s top governments, civil society organizations, and businesses made a pledge to ban and restrict extremist digital content. There was one notable country that didn’t sign or participate in this pledge, Trump’s America.

The problem with allowing governments to regulate, ban, or block digital content is that they ultimately find a way to use that law to ban content that is actually not extremist nor terrorist but it criticizes them and they don’t like it. We’ve had this in South Africa before, although it was before the age of the Internet, people like Nelson Mandela were classified by the apartheid government and were on the USA’s terrorist list for their “content”.

It’s also happening as we speak in Egypt where there’s a law that allows the government to prosecute anyone al Sisi’s government decides is spreading fake news, like this author who criticized the government, or that one time they ordered ISPs to block New York Times and Al Jazeera for spreading “fake news."

The thing about governments, and their regulation, is that it must be as minimal as possible. In fact, all we mostly need a government to “regulate” and “protect” (apart from delivering public services such as health and education) is the protection of our legally acquired assets and enforcement of contracts. That’s why we pay taxes, think of them as protection money.

In conclusion, I disagree with many things people say and publish online, in some cases, I can even go further and prove those things are not true nor factual. However, I will fight for their right to say them, because, human rights are not eroded all at once, they are taken away from us small small.

Share this via: