The Uganda Communications Commission has, during the commemoration of the World Consumer Rights Day at UCC House in Bugolobi, cautioned the public to be more vigilant on their digital safety to avoid falling victim to fraudsters.
The commemoration event held Monday March 15, 2021 was graced by among others; a panel of representatives from UCC, consumer and telecommunication representative.
Themed “Empowerment for Digital Safety: Challenges and Lessons”, the discussions aimed at promoting consumer awareness and protecting the interests of consumers in the communication sector.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of UCC, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, noted that technology is a double-edged sword that avails people with a host of opportunities and benefits, which, however, can be detrimental if abused.
She noted that the UCC Act 2013 obliges the Commission to protect consumers of communication services and pointed out section 5(1) of the act which specifically tasks UCC to “promote and safeguard the interests of consumers and operators as regards the quality of communications services and equipment.”
“There is, therefore, need to mitigate the impact of negative use of technology and substandard equipment or devices by empowering consumers of digital services to make safe and responsible choices.”
Kaggwa added that amid the increasing uptake and growing dependence on digital services, there is need to ensure that people know and appreciate the potential physical, sociological and economic harms and risks associated with online activity, and how they can mitigate them.
“Hackers, fraudsters, pedophiles, terrorists and other criminals are lurking around the cyberspace and waiting for an opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting victims. As consumers of communications services, therefore, we must always be on our guard,” she said.
UCC ED, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo addressing attendees at UCC office in Bugolobi.
Jimmy Haguma, chief security officer at UCC said that people do not want to use a two-factor authentication, others have one password for all their social media accounts and many do not have the “digital literacy.”
“Many of us have got into the digital age without getting digital literacy. We don’t know digital hygiene; how to navigate safe. We have become trumpets of other people’s information; forwarding messages without reading,” Haguma said.
Likewise, Dan Marlone Nabutsabi, CEO Uganda Consumer Action Network (U-CAN) said that the right to safety is one of the 8 fundamental consumer rights that have been enshrined in the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer protection that were expanded in 1999.
He noted that fake news and misinformation are another threat to digital safety.
Fake content, he said, is viral and it moves very fast and the people who design fake content do it deliberately so that it looks good enough and appealing to share.
However, on behalf of broadcasters, Joseph Beyaga, recommended that measures have to be put in place in the newsrooms to ensure that authentic information is given out to the consumers, “and media practitioners need to be trained in order to curb misinformation.”