WHENEVER you Google something using the English language and find that Uganda is on top of the list, you are either extremely pleased or deeply concerned.
The most basic explanation of the way search engines like Google work indicates that the top site listed would be the one most visited by internet users or referred to by other sites.
As at June 30, 2017, the site http://www.internetworldstats.com did not list Uganda among the the top twenty countries in internet usage or penetration. The top four are China (738 million users), India (462 million), the United States of America (326 million) and Brazil (211 million).
So for Uganda to come top when one searches for ‘Anti Pornography Machine’ or ‘Pornography Detection Machine’ makes the ordinary mind believe that we might be the only country in the world that have ever used those words in that specific combination.
Until recently, pornography was the biggest activity on the internet; it is a multibillion dollar industry where, one site reckons, “every second over US$3,000 dollars are spent online alone and almost 30,000 people log in” – per second. None of those 30,000 people appears to have ever heard of this ‘Anti Pornography Machine’ or ‘Pornography Detection Machine’ before before Uganda mentioned it some time last year.
That first time we heard the words put together, laughter and ridicule ensued but mostly from within these borders of ours. Many online Ugandans took up digital whips and flayed the honourable Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo.
So this week when the Pornography Control Committee was launched along with assurances that the ‘Anti Pornography Machine’ or ‘Pornography Detection Machine’ would soon be brought into the country to “detect pornography”, I knew we would be nationally distracted.
No – Watch This Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTmolw6QDvU
I am sad to have joined the fray, but glad that my issue is not to do with the cost of the said ‘Anti-Pornography/Porn-Detection Machine’, or even Pornography itself. I am not even questioning our national seriousness, considering that in August LAST YEAR (2016) the media quoted Fr. Simon Lokodo promising that the ‘Anti Pornography/Pornography Detection Machine’ would be in the country by September LAST YEAR (2016). SERIOUSLY! READ THIS:
Sure, if the machine costs Ushs2billion then we must certainly re-assess our national priorities and justify expenditure accordingly. If the cost of running the ‘machine’ additionally involves increasing the number of employees in public service then, again, perhaps we could think about increasing the number of employees who are going to increase national production first, after which the increased production would pay for anti-pornography activities.
And of course pornography as an issue needs to be tackled.
I simply got stuck at the lack of reference anywhere else in the world to this ‘Anti-Pornography/Porn-Detection Machine’.
Going back online to keep Uganda’s numbers up, I checked again and again for what this machine might be, and found that it is still only mentioned in reference to Uganda and Fr. Simon Lokodo’s announcements.
I asked some well-placed people at a couple of agencies about this machine and they were nonplussed, amid laughter.
But I won’t join them in laughter or dismay at the Ministerial pronouncement; instead, I wonder about all the journalists who went ahead and wrote out the phrases above without questioning, and all the educated people who have been chattering about an ‘Anti-Pornography/Porn-Detection Machine’.
What would a machine of this nature look like? Where would it be installed – in the centre of Uganda where it would emit or suck in pornography waves then report to the main Anti-Pornography office? Or on the back of a truck or a bus which would then be driven round the country?
Is it like a mounted gun turret that the Anti-Pornography Controller will swivel round the country? Does it hover overhead and scan onto the rest of the country like a drone would?
Does it run on solar power or ordinary electricity? Does it get plugged into computers and laptops or get mounted onto transmission masts?
Will it ping all 18 million mobile phones periodically and alert the nearest policeman when an item of pornography leaves or lands onto a phone or computer?
You know how WhatsApp shows two blue ticks when you open and read a message? Will the machine do the same or will your receipt of pornographic material be criminal on its own? And if the latter, will the machine be capable of telling when a malicious person sends you pornography to set you up or will that come after you go through the legal processes and are standing before the judicial officers involved?
So many questions, yet there is so little time. See, like many of you out there I use WhatsApp and belong to a number of WhatsApp groups where the regulation of material shared is not often tight enough.
I am off to delete everything that the ‘Anti-Pornography/Porn-Detection Machine’ might find there, should it arrive soon. That may or may not include images from the recent regional Miss Tourism events or those from a site promoting eco-tourism in Karamoja.