Kampala, Uganda | URN | City lawyer Andrew Karamagi has accused the government of levelling patent falsehoods and outlandish allegations against 14 local YouTube channels in its petition to American Tech Company Google Inc.
The affected channels include; Ghetto TV, Bobi Wine 2021, KKTV, JB Muwonge 2, Namungo Media, Busesa Media Updates, Ekyooto TV, Map Mediya TV, Uganda Empya, Uganda News Updates, Uganda Yaffe, Trending Channel UG, Lumbuye Fred and TMO online.
On December 9th, 2020, the government through Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] recently petitioned Google to shut down the channels for allegedly broadcasting content inciting violence and threatening national security.
Just like the government, Karamagi has also written to the CEO of Google Inc. defending the channels, saying that they have nurtured citizen journalism and civic engagement.
“The YouTube channels complained of have stirred the ire of the regime because they have nurtured citizen journalism enabled civic engagement around socioeconomic and political causes beyond Uganda’s borders and contributed towards knowledge curation on public affairs,” he wrote.
He asks Google to ignore the government’s request to block the channels noting that the real concern of the government is that internet-based platforms have circumvented the crackdown on mainstream media and exposed among others several episodes of state-sponsored terror in, which scores of citizens have been gunned down by people in police and army uniforms.
The activist’s letter comes just a day after the founders of the media platforms raised objection to the government’s push to shut them down. Tamale Mirundi, the founder of TMO (Tamale Mirundi Official) and former Press Secretary to the president is one of those whose channel is listed for removal.
He disclosed to this publication that earlier attempts by the government to have his page removed didn’t yield results, as YouTube asked Government to ask him to do it himself. He, however, says that once the government successfully blocks his page, he will start other platforms since all his programs on mainstream Television were stopped.
However, Abdul Salam Waiswa, the head of Legal and Compliance at UCC told this publication in an earlier interview that the idea is to regulate illegal broadcasters since the unregulated content they publish spreads falsehoods and doesn’t meet the minimum broadcasting standards.
According to Google, oftentimes, government requests target political content and government criticism, with Governments citing defamation, privacy, and even copyright laws in their attempts to remove political speech from the platform. Governments around the world regularly request that Google removes information from its products.
“We review these requests closely to determine if content should be removed because it violates a law or our product policies. Governments ask us to remove or review content for many reasons. Some requests allege defamation, while others claim that content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or adult content,” Google.