Ugandan authorities burn thousands of porn materials ahead of pornography ban

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Months after directing internet service providers to block about 25 top pornography materials, Uganda’s communications regulator has begun destroying porn materials as part of moves to ban the distribution or viewing of pornography in the country.

“Symbolic burning of pornographic materials, ahead of the nationwide enforcement against the sale and distribution of pornographic materials in Uganda,” the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said Thursday.

Scores of Ugandans are no longer able to access some pornography sites, including Pornhub, Xvideos and Youporn on their mobile phones after last December’s directive from the UCC to block those sites.

Before the ban, these three porn sites were among the top 100 most visited websites in Uganda, according to local media, as they have been providing pornographic material for free.

Most of the sites that have been banned also advertised sex workers and showed leaked nude videos of Ugandan celebrities.

Some of the porn materials that were banned

At the moment, users of Virtual Private Network (VPN) can access the banned sites while there are other websites that are acting as proxies for the banned porn sites.

Section 13 of Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Act 2014 states that “a person shall not produce, traffic in, publish, broadcast, procure, import, export, sell or abet any form of pornography and anyone who commits such is liable, on conviction, to a fine of UShs10m or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.”

In July 2018, the UCC ordered telecommunication companies and internet service providers to ensure that pornographic material is not downloaded or uploaded through their platforms.

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The UCC directed internet service providers, to block 27 websites for “streaming pornographic content to Uganda.”

In the letter to the internet service providers, the regulator said it got the list of websites to block from the country’s Pornography Control Committee, a nine-member team set up in August 2017 to detect and curtail the circulation of pornographic material.

Authorities burn thousands of porn materials ahead of the ban against sale and viewing of pornography

Authorities had even tried to procure a pornography detection machine but failed, saying that the UCC was the “biggest machine” to stamp pornography out of the society.

Months earlier, the government announced plans of incorporating pornography into the school curriculum as part of efforts to help children in primary and secondary schools to acquire sufficient knowledge about pornography and its effects.

This development came almost two years after the government closed down Bridge International schools, low-cost private schools backed up by investors such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly teaching pornography and content related to lesbianism and homosexuality.

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The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija, at the time, said: “Instead of using schools to apply and promote sexual education, why don’t we go back to our traditional aunties (ssenga) and uncles (kojja)? Stop conveying the gospel of homosexuality to our children. You should stop and stop.”

Noted for tightening their grip on how the internet is accessed and used, the government, in 2017, released $556,000 to combat online pornography, with some other funding going into its pornography-blocking software.

Many Ugandans expressed anger over the news, saying it was only introduced to divert their attention from what they called the failures of the Museveni government.

Authorities believe that the situation would be better dealt with when UCC procures the machine that detects pornographic material.

The UCC, this March, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Pornography Control Committee to enhance the latter’s ability in detection, prevention, controlling and regulation of pornographic materials in Uganda.

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