Uganda has bought a “pornography detection machine” as part of its crackdown on explicit content, the country’s controversial ethics and integrity minister announced Tuesday.
Simon Lokodo said the new detection machine will scan mobile phones and other electronic devices for pornographic images, videos and graphics, allowing his anti-pornography committee to track and prosecute offenders.
It is illegal to produce, publish or share many forms of graphic content in Uganda, and offenders can be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
The government purchased the machine from a South Korean company for the price of 300 million Ugandan shillings (around $88,000), Lokodo told Ugandan state-owned newspaper New Vision. It will arrive in the country soon.
The ethics minister offered few other details about the machine and how it works. Uganda’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for clarification.
But Lokodo has been talking about a so-called porn detector since at least April, when he announced a 2.6 billion Ugandan shilling budget (about $770,000) for pornography detection software. He pointed to the “success” of China, South Korea and Rwanda in blocking their citizens’ access to such content.
The plan drew outrage and ridicule in April and again this week, with many Ugandans pointing out on social media that it would be more ethical to spend the money replacing the country’s only radiotherapy machine, which is not functional.