Lawyers have urged the Government to prioritize the enactment of cyber security laws following a hacking incident this month targeting telecom giants MTN Uganda, Airtel and Stanbic Bank.
These businesses were exposed after their aggregator Pegasus Technologies Limited fell prey to the anonymous intruders.
However while speaking at the Kampala Regional Geo-Politics Summit on Friday; Lawyer Alice Namuli said time had come for the Government to prioritize the enactment and implementation of cyber laws as a way of dealing with a wide range of crimes that come with the fourth industrial revolution.
“For example on the continent, the African Union has passed the cyber security and detail protection framework of 2014. As I speak today, we only have like 27 countries that have data protection laws. Only 9 have enacted that regulation. What does that mean? Namuli posed.
In Uganda’s case, she pointed out that while deliberations have been held on leveraging gains from the fourth industrial revolution, lack of enforcement of associated policies can be best explained by ignorance.
“In this case of data protection, it would be our courts of law, the Police and judges. So you may ask yourself, do our judges even understand what cyber crimes are or what cyber crime is?” she questioned.
Whereas a Police Cyber Unit was set up in 2015, crimes of this nature have increased almost three fold from 62 cases in 2012, 198 cases in 2018 to 248 as of 2019, according to the 2012, 2018 and 2019 Annual Police Crime Reports.
On a positive note, however, the same report intimates that 51 million shillings was recovered by Uganda Police last year.
Rising on the gravity of this subject, constitutional lawyer Robert Kirunda said that given the limitless advantages that the fourth industrial poses, the Government must make every effort to create the necessary environment for cyber technology to thrive.
“How are they using that? In the context of bio weaponry, a new arms race, artificial intelligence in the context of 5G with regards to communication devices and things like that. We are mass consumers of iPhones the US and devices from China. What does that mean for the security of our citizens?” he asked.
Kirunda elaborated that it is high time the youth were skilled with vital Information Communication Technology skills (ICT) which in future would be put to use in fighting and tracking disease outbreaks.
“As pandemics and epidemics become more frequent, data comes to the fore. I think that the US has more medical data on Ugandans than themselves,” he bemoaned.