Government signs deal for installation of GPS trackers for cars

The government has approved the installation of (Global Positioning Satellite) GPS trackers for cars as a security measure. This has officially been sealed off with the signing of a 10-year deal by Security minister Maj. Gen Jim Muhwezi on behalf of the government and a Russian firm, Joint Stock Global Security Company to track and monitor all automobiles in the country.

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Following shootings of high profile people in recent years, the President first suggested in 2018 that the installation of GPS trackers be taken on as a security measure to be able to know where vehicles are at all times. This would help security authorities easily locate the whereabouts of criminals.

It looks like this will be taking full effect soon. However, concerns of breach of people’s privacy have been cited. It is believed that this installation can be cited as a breach of privacy as privacy is every Ugandan’s constitutional right.

Recent security measures have been taken in the same effort to tighten security. One of them is the installation of CCTV cameras in the capital city and surrounding areas.

The registration of sim cards was another initiative taken implemented by Uganda Communications Commission through telecom companies. This was done to track the whereabouts of criminals using phones since sim cards are GPS enabled.

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Is this a breach of privacy?

According to The Observer, Article 27 provides that “No person shall be subject to unlawful search of the person, home or other property of that person; or unlawful entry by others of the premises of that person and that no person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property.”

In addition, Section 10 of the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019 provides that a data collector, processor or controller shall not collect, hold or process personal data in a manner that infringes on the privacy of a subject.

Full-time GPS tracking of all road users, without any authorization and the knowledge of the person as to their location, is an extreme interference to the privacy and is not justifiable even with the excuse of catching criminals.

How much will the installation of GPS trackers for cars cost?

It is said that the Russian company will install the GPS trackers in all cars and motorcycles in a process overseen by the government, for which owners will pay UGX 20,000 annually. This cost of installation along with other expenses incurred like buying fuel will make it too costly to own and maintain a car.

The lockdown has taken a toll on many financially and any other expenses would see those who earn income from public transportation like Boda boda men and taxi drivers out of business as they rely on their vehicles and motorbikes for income.

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