Privacy Fears Over New Ugandan Wi-Fi Scheme

The Ugandan government is due to launch a free Wi-Fi initiative at the end of the month. The scheme will allow residents in the cities of Kampala and Entebbe to access wireless internet for free, between the hours of 6pm and 6am on weekdays and for slightly longer on weekends. The privacy rights group Unwanted Witness Uganda has expressed concerns, however, about the fact that users will have to surrender a raft of personal information in order to log in to the Wi-Fi network. In order to use the Wi-Fi, users must provide their full name, gender, date of birth, email address and mobile number. Unwanted Witness Uganda is therefore concerned that the government will use the Wi-Fi network to spy on its citizens and identify individuals expressing anti-government sentiments. These fears are not unfounded; the independent organisation Human Rights Watch has previously voiced concerns about “violations of freedom of association, assembly and expression” in the country.