Uganda Considering Internet Porn Crackdown

Uganda Considering Internet Porn Crackdown
Tod Hunter
KAMPALA, Uganda — A new amendment in Uganda's pornography laws will target video halls, Internet cafés and electronic media, according to the country's minister of ethics, Nsaba Butero.

"The anti-pornography bill will soon be [considered] in Parliament for approval as another strategy of tightening laws on pornography," Butero said. "The law will affect Internet cafes and video halls. We shall be monitoring these places to see the people violating this law."

Consumption of pornography is currently illegal in Uganda.

A new film governing body, Federation of Uganda Movie Industry, has been established to maintain ethical standards of movies and copyright laws for producers and video hall owners.

"Video halls" are small theaters that show video entertainment.

Internet cafes, where users pay to browse and surf the web, are numerous in Kampala. The cafes are open to all people regardless of age, gender and social status. The sites that Internet users prefer are sports websites — most especially those of European football clubs — dating sites, pen pals, lotteries, visas, employment opportunities and those that offer adult material. Of all these uses, surfing the Internet for adult material is considered the most dangerous.

Rose Mawanda, a cafe attendant at Global World Internet Cafe, says she has guidelines that every customer is supposed to read and understand before accessing the Internet.

"I have notices all over the place. 'No surfing pornographic materials please,' 'Respect the rules and regulations' are some of the notices," she said. "Anyone caught [breaking the rules] will lose his membership at the café."

Sam Kasoma, who owns an Internet café in Wandegeya, does not care what his clients browse on the Internet since he believes they are mature.

"Wandegeya is an environment surrounded mostly by the student community from the university and other high institutions of learning, so they are free to look for whatever they want on the Internet. I don't care about my customers. I give them freedom to access anything," he said. "if I restrict them, they will run to other cafes."