COVID-19 relief: Government warned against violating privacy

Coronavirus outbreak

Analysts have warned government about legal repercussions that include breach of individual privacy information and data as it plans to use the cash transfer method to deliver covid relief.

This follows government plans to study individual mobile money transactions before determining who qualifies as vulnerable.

Prime Minister Robina Nabanja’s said that shs 500,000 worth of transactions would be used as cut off point to measure who the vulnerable are.

This is not the right indicator of vulnerability, according to political analyst and lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo.

Nicholas Opiyo

“Mobile transactions record do not necessarily show people’s income, I may have sent money on behalf of somebody for someone, someone may have used my number to send money and so to base it on transactions, first excludes many people who may not be on mobile money as a platform, but also mis-characterises vulnerability,” Opiyo said.

Then comes the legality of it all and the aspect of privacy, since government does not run private companies.

“In line of the Data Protection Act and the right to privacy there has to be a framework for accessing people private data kept with private companies, and there has to be guarantees to ensure that there is no abuse.”

Nicholas Opiyo adds that there’s no guarantee that the data and information will not be abused for other purposes.

Opiyo however welcomes the module as a workable method but adds that this has to be backed by empirical data which should be the basis to measure vulnerability.

“In the absence of guarantees, government has to fall back in my view, to UBOS data on house income and poverty levels. We just released reports less than a month ago about poverty levels in the country and indicated that northern Uganda has a poverty level of 68%. That would be a proper basis.

According to the prime minister, government will send Covid-19 relief in form of cash tokens to especially the urban poor.

Nabbanja said that Ugandans with transactions above Shs. 500,000 will not be considered vulnerable.

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