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Google tells Uganda to go to court

Google’s Head of Communications in Africa, Dorothy Ooko. FILE PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Google has responded to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

The head of Communication and Public Affairs for Africa at Google, Dorothy Ooko has said “it is very hard to just have a channel removed due to a government request.”

That was her quick and brief response to a letter by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) requesting Google to take down 17 YouTube accounts that have largely been publishing or live-streaming content from presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi’s campaign trail.

The channels that UCC is targeting have been gaining traction because of the content they publish, most of which is enhancing Kyagulanyi’s messages. They had more than 59 million views and 300,000 subscribers as of December 15, when URN analyzed YouTube stats of the said channels.

In a letter dated December 9, 2020, to the Chief Executive Officer Google Inc, UCC said that the YouTube channels it listed violated Ugandan laws and that the continued broadcast by the channels might cause economic sabotage and compromise Uganda’s national security.

UCC says, without evidence detailed in the letter, that most of the channels were used to mobilize riots that resulted in loss of lives. UCC also accuses the YouTube channels of reporting news in a sensational, unbalanced and unprofessional manner.

“The broadcasts contain gruesome pictures including pictures of dead bodies, wounded victims of attacks and accidents, in a manner likely to cause public anxiety. Glorifies lawlessness and undermines public interest, confidence in the law and its enforcement in Uganda,” the letter reads.

But for YouTube channels to be removed, Ooko said, the governments have to submit court orders. “We always follow local law, but it would have to be a valid court order. The letters just show what the UCC submitted to the Embassy; they are not court orders,” she said.

Ghetto is among channels targeted by UCC

A transparency report on YouTube community guidelines indicates that the site does not allow pornography, incitement to violence, harassment, or hate speech, and relies on a combination of people and technology to flag inappropriate content and enforce these guidelines. It adds that a YouTube channel is terminated if it accrues three warnings in 90 days, has a single case of severe abuse, or is determined to be wholly dedicated to violating the entity’s guidelines.

“Flags can come from our automated flagging systems, from members of the Trusted Flagger program (NGOs, government agencies, and individuals) or from users in the broader YouTube community,” the page reads.

The request to have the channels removed in the middle of a presidential campaign in which Kyagulanyi has leveraged the use of online platforms has been viewed as an attempt to limit online space for the musician turned politician, according to lawyers.

“This is political, it’s not about business or registration,” Robert Kirunda, a lecturer at Makerere University says.  “UCC gagged mainstream media and they thought that once you control radio and TV and say don’t air Bobi Wine rallies, you have solved the problem,” he added.

But he argues that the complexities came when Bobi Wine supporters started using online channels to broadcast his messages. These channels are hard to regulate, Kirunda says because when you shut down a page, another will be created in minutes, and the process continues.

Kirunda adds that Google’s response to UCC will be informed by two factors: If there is evidence that the channels that UCC is requesting to be removed violate YouTube community standards, and if they violated Uganda law.

Human rights lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo says UCC’s attempt is meant to restrict the use of YouTube, a popular alternative platform for politicians such as Kyagulanyi who are denied access to mainstream media.

Nicholas Opiyo says  that the letter by UCC is indicative that it doesn’t understand how big-tech companies such as Google operate. “You can’t cite the UCC act and claim that these big tech companies are in violation of these laws,” he says. Opiyo says companies such as Google can act on the basis of legitimate court orders.

Opiyo also argues that UCC should know that YouTube and other big tech companies are not policemen of content that doesn’t violate community standards on their platform. Such content, he says, doesn’t include legitimate political concerns.

Abdul Salam Waiswa, the head of Legal and Compliance at UCC, told URN yesterday that these channels have not registered as required by the law. UCC early this year directed all online publishers to register.

Both Opiyo and Kirunda say it doesn’t require the intervention of Google to have the platforms register.

“Without going to google, there are enough laws in this country that you can use to go after someone who is not registering. You don’t need to go to Google,” Kirunda says.




  1. I think these people want to srop us frlm seeing where bobi wine is. We know that the Government of Uganda wants Bobi dead. But they can’t kill him when all cameras are on him. Thanks so much Google for saving us from that stupid insititution of ours. We thank you so much again😜😜

  2. Google weldone. These people are against humanity, once all these channels are closed which means they will do everything to innocent ugandan without evidence. These channels are exposing their harassment, evil things against humanity, etc

  3. What a shame to a 35yr regime, still greedy of power with internet or YouTube we have managed to watch how cruel you are to us Ugandans killing innocent souls imagine non violent, ‘shamelessly on TV promising to replace a person’s life with money 😭😭😭😭😭😭,’ the camera is the only weapon we poor Ugandans have to expose you and we are removing a dictator.our grandgrand fathers loved u too much now it’s enough.

  4. in this way ,the ugandan government wants to continue with its brutality on people, killing and abducting ugandans with out any evidence. because it controls what goes on national radio stations ,and televisions.
    now it wants to control social media.
    I hamblely suggest it should be denied access

  5. The journalism field is the only shield for Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine. After Kyagulanyi being denied platform on main Radio & TV stations, channels such as Ghetto TV, Peng Peng, among others are becoming of a great help to him.
    They distribute information about Kyagulanyi Ssentamu which makes people aware of his situation. If he is arrested they are informed easily and out of love they demand for His release either lawfully or unlawfully. The results expose the brutal handling of Ugandans hence making people get fade up of the government.
    That’s why I begun by saying those channels are shilds for Bobi Wine because in the end the government may be forced to free him to calm the situation.
    I I’m Emmason Quaver

  6. Thanks Joseph

  7. Here to remind the government of that use your dictatorship in your country but not on google coz google is bigger than you.

  8. Thank you Google. You are a life saver.

  9. Of course the Governmen has tried several times to kill Bobi Wine aka Kuagulanyi Sentamu and they are so frightened of the public support he is showing to have on his campaign rallies all over the country that they want to stop him by fair or foul means. The violence and brutality meeted out on his supporers and himself on these rallies by the security forces, some of them not even in uniform have been well recorded by these community media reports. The government is running out of time and are in a hurry to kill Bobi Wine and commit mass murders as they have been doing, but they need to make sure these the violent harrassment, the tear gas clouds, the beatings and shooting with live bullets are hidden from the public, especially from the International public

    The reporting of these criminal operations by the Governmen agancies are in real time so the government reallyhas no case.

  10. Museveni just go and rest in peace,, live Ugandan alone, your from Rwanda we accept to stay with you as refuge but your like small stone in the shoes, pliz never play with fire,, we tired of you Mr museveni go,, from Rwanda you come with underwear now you want boutique with capital pliz, 😭😭😢😢😢😢😭😭😭Uganda lives matter,, we the owner of our country but we are here working like slaves but why why why?

    • @Namuddu, i just can’t believe that such words still comes from people especially in this era ,
      21st century! So un civilized
      To go bad where and if i pose the same to you , like “Namuddu, go back to Congo where you came from too”
      You aren’t a Ugandan!
      Well, even if he goes of which he will with God’s will, Ms.Namuddu , if you don’t work hand, and God’s blessings finds you there trying, you’ll remain even more worse in poverty , and this time much more worse than before.
      So plz! At least respect the elders🙏
      God bless you and God bless Our President M7 .

      • you as nkuban whatever tribe u come from u can go to hell. do u even understand where her pain is coming from n ur jst there typing nonsense. am not a political activist but for you to demand respect for an elder who is continously okay with murdering our parents is just absurd, are you sure shes not working, do u know what shes going thru. I’ll not be surprised given you could be rwandese too. raise ur personal opinion but insulting some one coz of their opinion is wrong.

      • Namuddu is right even me am fed up. iys too much

  11. This is total panic by the regime because the government thought by blocking bobi wine from TV and radio talk shows it would become difficult for him to carry out scientific campaigns, forgetting that Bobi wine is always a step ahead

  12. Why is it that ucc is complaining about only the opposition’s sites or pages yet there also a few pages or accounts doing the same that means there’s some thing fishy with the ruling party it has tried all possible ways to pull down the opposition by denying him all mainstream platforms to deliver his messages am just short of words

  13. What’s wrong with our current regime

  14. Yes i also think so remember they all work for museveni so whatever he says is what is done but he forgot that Google isn’t under him😃😃😃😃😃so it can’t work depending on his laws. He played a game wrongly and making matters worse it also got to know that it is political😀😀😀😀shame upon museveni

  15. Thanks google. At least for you can’t be intimidated like the local channels.

  16. God is seeing

  17. Thanks Google,u saved us frm being harrased n killed in cold blood without evidence,our president Bobi cn be killed if those cameras are off him,thank u so much

  18. thanks you Google they think that you’re corrupt like they are

  19. It’s with a great Concern how the Ruling Government of Uganda under Museveni has Been Brutalizing, Killing and Illegally Torturing Ugandans with a Forceful motive to Cling on to power. Vote Rigging and all Atrocities that remain unattended to because of one man’s opinion of Owning Uganda as his family House and Shop. With the Forceful Hindrance of the National Broadcasting Televisions and Other Media Outlets from Showing the true Incidents badly affecting Ugandans thanks to the Independent Online individuals using the International platforms to Highlight the Inhuman Actions and the Unfair Mistreatment of the Ugandan Citizens in their Country by the Museveni government that is Supposed to Render Good services and Protection. It’s Evident the Government of Uganda under the Order from above (Museveni and his son Muhoozi) want to terminate the Live Streaming Coverages to Kill Ugandans without the World watching plus the Unfair Handling of the general Elections Scheduled January next year 2021. The world needs Humanity and Peace.

  20. Thank you soo much Google for this fair judgment 🙏

  21. I think google is fear

  22. they don’t allow us on TV,, rallies, radios,,, everything is owned by a dictator

  23. Thanks Google with Mrs.Dorothy.These people thought that you are sleepy as Ugandans are,move by there commands as Ugandans do…

  24. Thanks alot for yo responses, but streaming live wat is on the real scene isn’t acrime as long as it doesn’t violate the law,terms and conditions restricted, they’re just giving u a hard time of no importance, dictators always plot unsuccessful agendas wen they’re about to fall or loose power,

  25. Thank you Google for saving Ugandans and Especially Bobi wine. They wanted to kill Bobi wine in silent.

  26. The UCC Letter to Google and Facebook, is one of the most embarrassing and unfortunate occurance In the recent history ,

    On what account can those requests be sustained, from which court, I’m which jurisdiction,!!?

    I only request UCC to begin employing skilled and competent lawyers who can ably look at things from a legal and professional point of view, not just politicking and acting on impulse,
    Exposing incompetence and ignorance of the highest

  27. Y should the disturb people even nrm has online platforms block all if its a must

  28. Thanks google and Facebook .let Mr. MNSEVENI know that these on line platforms are in business meaning the more viewers and subscribers the more money for them so if they try to go by the order’s of the dictator then this will make them to lose clients and MUSEVENI must know that there is a saying which says that HOWEVER ENERGETIC YOU MAY IT DOES NOT MEAN TO GO AND DIG IN YOUR NEIGBOURS GARDEN so let him stay in his line

  29. M7 and his colleagues are guilty of killing Ugandans using the military forces. Now they are trying to blackmail the Google has they have done with the ugandan media.

  30. Mwebembezi Akwirino

    I’m sure the only reason as to why they’re harassing the online platforms is because they want to eliminate Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu. Once cameras are off they’ll do whatever they want & hide the evidence

    Thanks Google for saving Uganda 🙏

  31. I a sured Uganda will not and not hold a free and fear elections thus are signs of failed state, M7 go ahead but knowing that you will be charged accordingly.

  32. The reason why museveni is doing all this he don’t want other out side countries to know that he is a hypocrite, murderer We got kyagulanyi as our supper hero who came to open our eyes now our eyes are open they want to kill our fellow Ugandan silently without any evidence we are now able to change our country museveni ur a murderer dictatorships,ur using people to fight ur problem after u kill them stop being selfish Museveni aka Bosco were tired u a dictator u should stop police brutality, kidnapping our people may ur saw RIP 😭😭😭😭😭 idiot u started e war u hv to end when ur dead en ur body will be given to crocodile such that no one will see even ur grave
    #freekyagulanyiSsentamu #free Ugandan 💪💪
    U came with guns we are using cameras we shall see who is who wuuuuuuuululu Museveni RIP 😭😡😠😠😠

  33. let ucc not forget it’s name and meaning.
    Uganda communications commission works majorly in Uganda but I think they are going too far.
    If they have to shut down google channels then there are rules to get them there but not like in Uganda where
    You do as it pleases you. Thank you google.

  34. The regime is scared of their evil acts to be revealed to the world .
    The inhumanity that has been going on in Uganda where the police killed people in broad day light
    Museveni is planning to assassinate Hon Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi wine because of the pressure that is in the campaigns that’s why he wants all the social media platforms to be shut down in Uganda to so successful assassinate Kyagulanyi without evidence.

  35. All along I thought this government understand the world revolutionary ways, I didn’t know our government is led by backward people, these are ancient minds amidst a tech world, oh you gat twisted.

  36. Thanks Mr Google for saving we civilians who can’t speak but only use media to get our rights

  37. But who are the people who give advice to president museven!!!???? You people you have made museven fail in everything, I have been his supporter but I have lost hope in everything because of you guys!!! Every time making blunders and mistakes, shame upon you

  38. I thanks google so much, those guys they want to kil us but not emposible, thank you google for that your life saver.

  39. MAN BAJOGA, he think google can just clos something like to enter door haaa, that is worldwide of technology

  40. So now the government of uganda wants to say that these livestream platforms are breaking the laws than them who charge us on the use of Facebook, WhatsApp, twitter, YouTube. They get alot of money illegally from us . Its only uganda in the whole world that charges money from the citizens for using these international free of charge services. Shame upon you dictatorial government. Now why do they fear to be displayed to the whole world if they know that what they are doing is right. . The videos are always live and no editing , everything they do is seen at the exact time they have commented it. Shameless old man.

  41. Thanks Google for the great work and immediate response towards this case

  42. When the killings of innocent ugandans happened on 18th.11.2020 by Museveni police.. no registered media house showed this. Nbs for example was broadcasting president museveni rallies when people were getting’s only these online TV’s that helped to show to the world the incidents. Thanks Google for trushing UCC rubbish

  43. You can attack and intimidated the poor but information is wealth. So leave that to them. Even with your imposed OTT people will always get information. Google is beyond you sir.

  44. Thanks google for saving us and as well saving bobi’s life
    Because m7 is planning to assassinate bobi wine with out any camera recording
    Museveni has to go,we are tired of dictatorship

  45. I think UCC shud fast understand this. The business is worldwide not jxt in Uganda and they too have their terms and conditions of keeping clients information private to anyone even the government can’t force its release……..I know museveni wants to cut off Google Uganda so that bobiwines location is not tracked
    But never. Thanks to Mr Google u have decided like a ligal entity that does rely on someone like the way UCC does in Uganda…….#wenarremoving adictator

  46. M7 has run out of ideas. How did media plattforms kill our Ugandans. media plattforms have no guns to shoot people in cold blood. Deporting Foreign journalists, did they kill people? It’s a big shame . With media platforms,the entire international community can compile and keep evidence of human brutality. M7 changed the age limit of our constitution so that he can stay in powerf or life and gave Nrm MPS lots of money to pass the Bill. Blocked Kyagulanyi from all radios and TV’S. He said campaigns Will be scientifically but now blocked Kyagulanyi greedy movement. Thanks to google for keeping your standards. M7 regime has double standards #Kyagulanyi for President. #we are removing a dictator.14 January. Come rain come sunshine. God is on our side. M7 transfer power in peace. The Parliament released money to buy allugandans two masks. All money went down the drain. M7 never put this theft to book now you call Google to close accounts!!!!! Stop being selfish…. go and rest. Kyagulanyi is here to address Uganda and bring change to our country. We need peace.

  47. Hello Google, you are our Big Brother watching over us 24/7 Thank you, thank you, continue the great service.
    The dictators have ran short of alternatives, but to let in the generational President Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert!


    • “Our only voice Kyagulanyi!” He’s the voice for his tribe. But there are more than 60 tribes/ethnic groups in Uganda and he cannot be the voice of other ethnic groups. Who wants to be ruled by you tribal chauvinists? Not other Ugandans of course. The government must get an urgent court order for google to remove those poisonous channels now.

  49. Ahimbisibwe Justus

    Am imagining the kind of shame the independent entity is showing to world!!!
    It wouldn’t be you UCC, this started with introducing fake taxes knowing that we will be affected by in reality this has groomed us and now we are known every where through social platforms after you denied us local media.

    • Let the government of Uganda know that the way Google works is far much different from the way Ugandan constitution works,Ugandans constitutions is being tumpered any how by so called president where he wakes up and change it the way he wants it to be on his favour. For these therefore,social media is the only tool remaining where the poor us Ugandans can cry out and it’s heard.


    Mainstream media, NBS and occasionaly NTV, are already compromised by the govt, And in fear of being shutdown or imputed on taxes increment from noware, they limit the screen time for all activities having ties to the opposition, even other show guests that try to talk about the first family are always cut off with immediate commercials.I have seen quite many of such comments by show hosts “DO YOU WANT ME TO BE FIRED” that Incase guests talk about current affairs in support and uplift for anyone <>.

    What google has done and hoping will continue to do, (going the right paths in handling these channels and not govt pressures), is quite remarkable in support for the exposure of human right violation.



  51. So that the brutal dictatorship can continue victimising innocent citizens in the dark. Shame on the Ugandan government…..leave that channel on. We want to know what is happening there.

  52. Thx google because this government of ours refuse our candidate to use radio & tvz.

  53. Tunku Abdul Rahman

    Dictator Museveni must be cursing the day Bobi Wine became a politician (which was sometime in June 2017). Before then he was confident that there would be nobody or organization in Uganda to effectively oppose his murderous, corrupt and incompetent regime.

  54. Soon they will say NUP is funded by Google.
    Thank you Google.

  55. I don’t think UCC is doing that in good heart but even Google has to check contents very well. For sure some YouTube channels have fake news . Many people edit things of history into present situations hence leading in more tension

  56. Google say a Big NO please. You are our only hope, you are our ears and eyes. Our brothers,friends have always been shot dead in cold blood by people who are meant to serve and protect us. We are afraid the situation may worsen if you consider UCC’s evil requests. UCC are corrupt and have always kept a deaf ear on brutalities and murders on Ugandan citizens.

  57. The Ugandan regime wants to kill Robert Kyagulanyi when there’s no cameras, this is an attempt on stopping media filming the cruelty they carry out on opposition candidates and their supporters. If they don’t want him on local channels then it’s only YouTube we can watch Bobi wine’s rallies and the culprits out there to do him harm.

  58. As time goes around who will suffer. Please if as you plan whatever you may planning think about your fellow citizens because everyone concerned about this issue whether Bibi or Google your accountable to good lives of Ugandans don’t your self only Me I love my Uganda with selfish reasons

  59. Thanks google serving and saving our generation.
    This is the only platform we are remaining with after being denied the main stream media.
    If our government killed up 60 ugandans a month ago and some in the presence of cameras then what will happen when cameras are removed

  60. Point to not.
    Cameras are like toddlers, they tell the truth and they can not be brainwashed nor be bribed. So keep no installing more Cameras coz they are 99℅ authenticated. Make the best use of smart phone cameras.

  61. Hajji Badru Kabanda

    There is one thing that this Ugandan current regime is unaware of yet Kyagulanyi has at several occasions said it , “NO POWER CAN STOP AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME” Thank you Google for that stand with the oppressed people of Uganda and I salute all the founders of those hardworking pages towards the end of this current Ugandan regime… indeed WEARE REMOVING A DICTATOR

  62. Namuddu is right even me am fed up. iys too much

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