It's been a year since the Ugandan government placed an order with a South Korean company for a "censor gadget or machine" that would "detect homos and porn actors, especially those misusing applications like Whatsapp with sex acts." Now, they've taken delivery of same.
Uganda was widely condemned in 2014 after the passage of a horrifically punitive anti-homosexuality law, which was promoted by NGOs like the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, who lose their US state funding for their misdeeds.
No one is really sure how the filter will work, though of course, if you don't care about false positives, it's pretty easy to block porn (just block everything).
Meanwhile, given that Uganda's 30+ year president General YK Museveni stole an election last year and had to shut down the internet to prevent his own citizens from organizing to overthrow him, it's just barely possible that his government has another motive for establishing a national surveillance and censorship regime.
I mean, ya think?
As to the porn filter itself, it's proof positive that if you issue an RFP for magic beans with an unlimited budget, someone will sell you those magic beans. That doesn't mean that the magic beans will work, of course!
But once the government has become the censorious man-in-the-middle, all sorts of nasty things can happen. Criticism of the government might suddenly vanish along with the critics. Other entertainment sources not directly approved by the Rev might become inaccessible. Dissidents, journalists, and others with prior reason to fear their government might have their communications exposed. This may be the real endgame, with porn being the wedge. iAfrikan notes the machine reportedly traces VPN and Tor connections, which would allow it to block access to those seeking to keep their internet activity out of the government's hands.
Local reactions have ranged from outrage to ridicule with a few puritanical supporters speaking up for the government's plan to intercede on their behalf by making moral judgments calls for the entirety of the nation. Whatever it is Uganda is actually putting in place isn't just about porn. It's about government control of communications and access to information. It may be wearing a borrowed halo at the moment, but it's only a matter of time before mission creep sets in.
Ugandan Government Obtains Mysterious, South Korean-Built Anti-Porn Machine [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]
(Image: Kinetic Gifts)