“It’s Intended for Accurate Records” Says Tumwebaze on ‘Lengthy’ Requirements for Free WiFi

Government has no intentions of invading people’s online privacy through its recently rolled out free WiFi hotspots, order ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze said on Tuesday.

After introducing these hotspots in Kampala a few months ago, some users raised concerns over the lengthy requirements for one to log into the system.

While speaking the press, Minister Tumwebaze clarified; “We want to register you in the system and record statistics. If we don’t get that data, one individual might log in countless times and mislead us to believe it is many people.”

“We are registering you to count how many people are using it to inform policy on whether there’s need to invest in that or the telecom masts,” Tumwebaze added.

For any user to access the free WiFi, they must provide their details including; first and last name, mobile contact, email address, date of birth, gender, access password and preferred username.

However, Daniel Mwesigwa a tech writer with Dignited comments; “We could see an increase in surveillance on social media and the internet at large, with citizens’ data harvested by the agencies running this free internet, so I suspect my paranoia is shared with others.”

“The excuse of users logging in multiple times and hence confusing the count is unfounded. Every time a user logs in (with assumption no KYC details are needed to access), the servers would capture their device’s MAC and IP addresses. These addresses are essential in capturing metrics related to the use of any wifi network” Mwesigwa told ChimpReports in an interview.

He says government’s insistence to use bio and contact data registration is ‘unethical, unfounded and gateway to breach of privacy’.

Mwesigwa argues that the free WiFi project won’t yield much as long as government doesn’t work on improving the national backborne accompanied with enabling policies.

According to Minister Tumwebaze, more public demand for the WiFi will determine whether government takes interest in investing more in infrastructure like the optic fibre.

In Kampala, the wireless internet spots are located in Kisementi, Kololo Airstrip, Nakasero Market, MUBS, Village Mall in Bugolobi, Lugogo Cricket Oval among others.


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