Ugandan authorities are calling on Google to crack down on several Youtube channels ahead of the country’s upcoming January election.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) penned a letter to Google, which owns YouTube, requesting that 14 accounts be shut down, alleging that they help to mobilize riots.
“Holders of these accounts are operating illegally and should be suspended until they obtain licenses and adhere to broadcasting standards,” Abudu Sallam Waiswa, the head of legal affairs at the Uganda Communications Commission, said via Bloomberg.
But are their claims justified?
According to Quartz Africa, who reviewed the accounts, the channels have all been sympathetic to leading opposition presidential candidate and musician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine. Wine has been highly vocal in his criticism of current president Yoweri Museveni.
The channels include; TMO online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel Ug, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Ghetto TV, Busesa Media Updates and Uganda Empya. Other channels identified are; Map Mediya TV, KK TV, Ekyooto TV, Namungo Media, JB Muwonge 2, Bobi Wine 2021.
Museveni has held onto power since 1986.
In response to the request, Google informed the Ugandan government they would need to request and obtain a court order.
“Currently, we review government removal requests when notified through the correct legal processes and disclose these requests in our transparency report, in keeping with our stance on transparency,” says Dorothy Ooko, Google’s head of communications and public affairs for Africa, in an emailed response. “In all cases, we would only restrict access to a video only after a thorough review to determine if the request meets both the letter and spirit of the law. Where content does not break local laws or violate our Community Guidelines, it will remain on the site.”