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Accused YouTube Channels Protest Govt Move to Block Their Operations

Tamale Mirundi, the founder of TMO (Tamale Mirundi Official) and former Press Secretary to the president, is one of those whose channel is listed for removal. According to Mirundi, earlier attempts by government to have his page removed didn’t yield results, as YouTube asked Government to ask him to pull it down.
A Google graph showing reasons Governments requests information or pages to be taken down

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The owners of YouTube Channels accused of broadcasting messages threatening national security have rejected the government’s request to American tech company Google Inc. to block them.

It stems from a December 9th, 2020 letter from telecom regulator Uganda Communications Commission-UCC to Google Inc. to block 14 Ugandan based YouTube Channels for broadcasting messages that are likely to compromise national security and incites violence.



The affected channels include Ghetto TV, Bobi Wine 2021, KKTV, JB Muwonge 2, Namungo Media, Busesa Media Updates, Ekyooto TV, Map Mediya TV, Uganda Empya, Uganda News Updates, Uganda Yaffe, Trending Channel UG, Lumbuye Fred and TMO online.  

Although UCC accuses the channels of inciting violence and broadcasting content that compromises national security, the founders say they only report what happens in the country such as the violence meted out by security officers on citizens. They have also opposed a directive by UCC to register, saying it will on compromise the quality of their work.

Tamale Mirundi, the founder of TMO (Tamale Mirundi Official) and former Press Secretary to the president, is one of those whose channel is listed for removal.  According to Mirundi, earlier attempts by the government to have his page removed didn’t yield results, as YouTube asked Government to ask him to pull it down. He, however, says that once the government successfully blocks his page, he will start other platforms since all his programs on mainstream Television were stopped.

//Cue in: “YouTube told them…    

Cue out:…I am telling you,”//

An official, who works with Ghetto TV told URN on condition of anonymity that as journalists they only cover what, is happening and shouldn’t be blamed for inciting violence.

//Cue in: “If they say…  

Cue out:…have our camera”//


Ghetto TV has since the emergence of the National Unity Platforms (NUP) Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu covered his events, arrests and campaigns live and has thousands of loyal followers. The Owner of KKTV who only identified himself as Syfe Pro, because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that as far as they are concerned, they are meeting the broadcasting standards since Google has not at any one time sent them a warning or even queried their content.

He says regulating the media channels will affect the information that Ugandans abroad and in the country access and thereby infringe on the right of Ugandans to access information.

//Cue in: “Ndowoza UCC eyinzokuba… 

Cue out:…buwereza nga banamawulire,”// 

However, Abdul Salam Waiswa, the head of Legal and Compliance at UCC told URN in an earlier interview that the idea is to regulate illegal broadcasters since the unregulated content they publish spreads falsehoods and doesn’t meet the minimum broadcasting standards.

According to Google, oftentimes, government requests target political content and government criticism, with Governments citing defamation, privacy, and even copyright laws in their attempts to remove political speech from the platform. Governments around the world regularly request that Google removes information from its products. 

 

"We review these requests closely to determine if content should be removed because it violates a law or our product policies. Governments ask us to remove or review content for many reasons. Some requests allege defamation, while others claim that content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or adult content," Google says on its page. According to Google, their teams assign each request a category, such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation.