Uganda restores social media without Facebook as Museveni orders VPN ban


Social Media logos from Internet.

Besides the government’s threat to arrest VPN users last month, hundreds of thousands of Ugandans who use VPN were never scared. Some say, even if OTT tax were to be restored immediately, they would continue using the VPN.

 Lira—10, February 2021: The government of Uganda Wednesday announced it had restored social media platforms closed days to the January 14 presidential and parliamentary elections.

On 12 January, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) wrote to the telecoms companies directing them to shut down the internet: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and others.

The shutdown meant millions of social media users in Uganda could not use the above platforms, and none of them could promptly follow election results and other information.

Giving a reason for the shutdown, the government said it was to protect the peace of Ugandans during and after elections. This was widely condemned by Ugandans, including international communities.

The shutdown affected access to information, one of the fundamental human rights.

With only two days to make a full-month of internet shutdown since January, on Wednesday, State Minister for ICT and National Guidance Hon. Peter Ogwang announced the internet (social media) was restored.

“Internet and social media services have been fully restored. We apologise for the inconveniences caused, but it was for the security of our country. Let’s be constructive, NOT destructive consumers/users of social media,” Minister Ogwang’s Tweet reads.

However, Facebook remains blocked, according to SMS messages telecoms are sending to their clients. A government source says President Museveni is still annoyed with Facebook, who towards elections, pulled down accounts of most of his prominent aides.

Museveni directs VPN ban

Reelected in the January 14 disputed elections, president (elect) Museveni has directed ICT experts to find a way of completely blocking Virtual Private Network (VPN). It is worth noting that after the internet was restored a fortnight ago or so, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter became accessible via VPN.

Besides the government’s threat to arrest VPN users last month, hundreds of thousands of Ugandans who use VPN were never scared. Some say, even if OTT tax were to be restored immediately, they would continue using the VPN.

According to the Daily Monitor, president Museveni and more than 28 of his cabinet ministers, like some ‘poor’ Ugandans are using VPN.


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