COVID-19 and Data Rights in Uganda
The fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Uganda dealt a blow to the enjoyment of digital rights. From the on-set of COVID-19 responses, there was a significant increase in the collection and processing of personal data as the government traced persons suspected to have contracted or been exposed to the virus. As part of efforts to combat COVID-19, the government passed various regulations that provided the legal basis for contact tracing. These included the Public Health (Control of COVID-19) Rules, 2020 under the Public Health Act, which gave medical officers and health inspectors powers to enter any premises to search for cases of COVID-19, and to order the quarantine or isolation of all contacts of the suspected COVID-19 patients. Another was the Public Health (Prevention of COVID-19) (Requirements and Conditions of Entry into Uganda) Order, 2020 which allows a medical officer to examine for COVID–19, any person arriving in Uganda. There are additional Guidelines on Quarantine of Individuals which required all quarantined persons to provide their name, physical address, and telephone contact to the health ministry monitoring team. This research seeks to discuss the key digital rights issues, policies and programs around Uganda’s fight against COVID-19 and how these may have affected citizens’ trust in government, and in protecting their personal data. The study also explores the challenges that data intermediaries and public institutions face in engendering responsible data governance practices during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.