Uganda Urged to Update Data Protection Laws to Address AI Challenges in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Deputy Speaker emphasizes the need to amend data protection laws to encompass Artificial Intelligence advancements.

There is urgent need to update national legislation on data protection and privacy in a bid to counter potential threats posed by technological advancements, Ugandan Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has advised.

While speaking at the 2024 Data Privacy Day Conference held at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday, 31 January 2024, Tayebwa emphasised the need to modify the Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019 to provide for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

These are laws which we made when the era of Artificial Intelligence had not reached the level it is at today. The capacity of AI to harvest, process and exploit data is so huge that it has rendered our laws ineffective.

Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker, Parliament of the Republic of Uganda

He urged the Personal Data Protection Office to analyse the existing law and make recommendations to the Minister for ICT and National Guidance on amendments to bring it in line with technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.

What is very clear is that in terms of legislation, we shall not be able to keep up with the speed of the internet and AI, but we should try. And maybe, the minister can be given more powers under regulation, so that he handles some of these matters without coming to Parliament.

Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker, Parliament of the Republic of Uganda

The capacity of AI to harvest, process and exploit data is so huge that it has rendered our laws ineffective

The Deputy Speaker commended the Personal Data Protection Office for its registered achievements since the enactment of the law in 2019, and urged the ICT Minister, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, to lobby for more funding to the office through Parliamentary appropriation.

Tayebwa also emphasised the need to invest efforts in data protection to guard Ugandans against digital threats of misinformation and commercial espionage, among others.

Baryomunsi said the ministry has implemented efforts to address duplication of biodata by providing funds to National Information Registration Authority (NIRA) to carry out mass registration of Ugandans.

NIRA is now procuring kits and the necessary devices and if their roadmap continues as scheduled, they should be able to get into that exercise mid this year [2024].

Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, ICT Minister, Republic of Uganda

He appealed to Ugandans to support the exercise adding that,

The data you provide will shall be protected and used for the benefit of the country.

Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, ICT Minister, Republic of Uganda

Baryomunsi also noted that a national census will be conducted, with the census night commencing on Thursday, 09 May 2024.

At the event, the Deputy Speaker launched the braille version of the Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019 and attendant regulations, and also launched the 2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan of the Personal Data Protection Office.

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