The Monitor Daily is reporting that the Uganda Communications Commission secretly asked Internet service providers to block access to Facebook and Twitter messaging platforms for 24 hours during the Walk-to-Work campaign on Thursday last week. Most of the ISPs didn’t comply save for one ISP which disrupted the service for sometime before later allowing access.
The Monitor go access to an April 14 letter signed by Mr Quinto Ojok who is the Director of Finance at UCC and signed an acting capacity for the Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi. The letter called for the social networking sites, Tweeter and Facebook, be shut-down for security reasons.
“We have received complaints from security that there is need to minimise the use of the media that may escalate violence to the public in respect of the ongoing situation relating to walk-to-work mainly by the opposition in the country,” reads part of the communication. “You are therefore required to block the use of Facebook and Tweeter for 24 hours as of now, that is; April 14, at 3:30pm to eliminate the connection and sharing of information that incites the public.”
When contacted yesterday by The Daily Monitor, Mr Mutabazi feigned miscommunication saying that the letter wasn’t necessary. He however didn’t deny his office sending out the letter.
The letter was addressed to MTN, Airtel, Orange, Warid, Uganda Telecom, AfricaOnline, Afsat Communications, Broadband (U), Foris Telecom, and Infocom. It was also copied to Minister of Information and Communication Technology and to the Inspector General of Government.
Tunisia, Egypt and even Libya have tried to block social media sites like Facebook and Twitter during protest but the effect has been that more young people move from the comfort of their offices, rooms or cybercafes to the street where they engage with the authorities and most of the time very violently.