Artificial Intelligence: Tayebwa Calls for Legislation Update

Mark Kawalya

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has said that Uganda needs to update its current legislation on data protection and privacy. This will boost the capacity for the country to address threats arising from technological advancements.

Tayebwa made the comments while presiding over the Data Privacy Day Conference on January 31, 2024, held at Mestil Hotel in Kampala. The Deputy Speaker highlighted the necessity to amend the existing Data Protection and Privacy Act of 2019 to incorporate provisions for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

“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,” Tayebwa said.

He called up the Personal Data Protection Office to evaluate the current legislation and propose amendments aligning it with fourth industrial revolution technologies.

Legislation needs to keep pace with the rapid evolution of the internet and AI, which Tayebwa cited suggesting that the Minister for ICT and National Guidance additionally be granted more powers which would enable the handling of certain matters without parliamentary involvement.

While commending the Personal Data Protection Office for its achievements since the enactment of the 2019 law, Tayebwa encouraged ICT Minister Chris Baryomunsi to advocate for increased funding through parliamentary appropriation.

The Deputy Speaker underscored the importance of investing in data protection efforts to shield Ugandans from digital threats like misinformation and commercial espionage. Baryomunsi outlined ministry initiatives to address biodata duplication, including the funding for the National Information Registration Authority (NIRA) for 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],” the minister said.

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