The Ugandan government, through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has written to Google, asking it to close at least 14 YouTube channels for allegedly mobilising riots.
The protests that took place in November resulted in at least 50 deaths and several injuries.
The channels in the blacklist include TMO Online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel UG, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Ghetto TV, Busesa Media Updates and Uganda Empya. Others are Map Mediya TV, KK TV, Ekyooto TV, Namungo Media, JB Muwonge 2 and Bobi Wine 2021.
The UCC argues that the channels were used to mobilise the deadly protests that led to the loss of lives and property in Kampala on November 18th. This followed a spread of protests following the arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
According to the UCC, the request was made to Google after receiving complaints from stakeholders including the Internal Affairs minister, who chairs the National Security Council and the Uganda police force.
UCC further says it made the decision after observing that communication platforms and networks including YouTube are being used to publish, disseminate, and/or broadcast content that goes against the Uganda Communications Act of 2013 and Regulation 8 (2) of the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulation 2019.
According to the government, the channels misrepresent information, views, facts and events in a manner likely to mislead the public.
In its Dember 9th letter to Google, UCC states, “[They contain] extremist or anarchic messages, including messages likely to incite violence against sections of the public on account of their tribes and political opinions … [and] may compromise national security and cause economic sabotage.”
“Wherefore as the regulator of the communications sector in Uganda and in accordance with Section 5 (1) (b), (j), (x), 6 and 45 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the commission hereby implores Google to block access to the following YouTube accounts,” UCC adds.
Other than the suspension of channels, UCC also wants the American tech giant to “immediately stop aiding and abetting any further breach of the regulatory and penal laws of Uganda through its communication platforms.
It asked the company “to review and revise YouTube operations to ensure that it is not used to circumvent the legal and regulatory requirements of the Republic of Uganda”.