Fighting porn is a catch-22

The fight against pornographic materials should be now to restore moral decency in Uganda. But this knee-jerk move by the police and ministry of Ethics comes late after sleazy nude materials have been splashed in our faces on the streets, in newspapers and online.

The enforcers have only been pricked into action after leaked unpleasant and offensive videos of nude female celebrities circulated in town. These obscenities have scandalised the sensitivities of upright Ugandans.

But just how much of the growth of these obscene acts, pictures or films to stimulate sexual desire can Uganda control? And just how easily will the police and ministry of Ethics enforce the law against them?

Presently, no Internet service providers (ISPs) filter or block pornographic materials on the widely accessible social media platforms, even where a user would rather not receive it. Moreover, users are not offered any opt-in or opt-out of such content.

Neither is indecent Internet search terms blacklisted. So users can search, find, and share these prohibited filths as happened with the leaked nude videos. So, the ISPs are not exercising enough responsibility and moral duty to restrict or stop the growth of pornography in Uganda.

The question then is, how do the detectives from the Criminal and Intelligence Directorate (CIID) hope to manage these online spaces? This could only be made easier when everyone on the Internet is subject to a mandated porn filter. As it is, regulation of online pornography in Uganda will be hard to achieve. This means the filter should be on by default at the ISP level.

But this good move is a catch-22. First, it shows the balance between media freedom and responsibility is difficult to strike. Second, it questions our open-arm embrace of neo-liberal ways of free and open society and aocacy of freedom of the individual. Third, it exposes the rapid growth and force of social media and how it eases linkages and also negatively socialises.

This is true of the increase in production vending and distribution of pornographic materials. This why despite the threat of penalties and jail terms, ISPs still fail to control uploads and downloads of pornography.

In the leaked nude videos, no action was taken to stop its circulation even when the ISPs knew the materials were likely to corrupt those who are likely to see it.

In all, enforcement of Article 13(1) of the Anti-pornography Act, 2014, may not easily work. And CIID’s approach to target traffic in, publishing, broadcasting, procurement, import, export, or sale or abetting any form of pornography or even unfiltered access to the web is a catch-22.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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