Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court in Kampala has dismissed a case in which a Harvard University Student sued three government officials who had blocked him from following them on Twitter.
The student identified as Seguya Hillary Innocent Taylor who uses twitter handle @HillaryTaylorVI told the court that he was blocked from accessing President Yoweri Museveni’s handle @KagutaMuseveni, on July 20, 2019. Days later, he was blocked by @OfwonoOpondo, a handle owned by the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo and @Akasingye, owned by Asan Kasingye.
Sseguya was blocked four months after he had openly told the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo that he wanted to exchange him for Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Addo had just presented a paper on Pan-Africanism to a group of students at Harvard University where at the time, Sseguya was pursuing his Master’s Degree in International relations.
But he was offended by the actions of those who blocked him and challenged them in the courts of law. Seguya insisted that by blocking him, the three officials were denying him a right to information access because their handles were often used to disseminate important government information which he would miss if he was not unblocked.
Seguya made reference to a 2017 case filed in the United States against President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump. In the judgement then, the federal court in New York City held that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.
In the Ugandan case, one of the defendants Asan Kasingye said that the handles were personal and were never used for official government business. Kasingye said that he was using his account for fun and that official information regarding police activities is shared through the police handle; @PoliceUg.
The head of the civil division of the High Court, Justice Andrew Bashaija declared that there was no illegality in blocking Seguya because the said handles are personal and the owners have the freedom to choose their followers. He advised Seguya to instead follow @PoliceUg, @UgandaMediaCent for the Media Centre which is headed by Ofwono Opondo and @StateHouseUg for information from the State House.
He dismissed the application with costs to the government of Uganda.