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Tanzania : Freedom of the Internet ?

D 30 août 2018     H 04:19     A     C 0 messages

Tanzania’s social commentators have shut down their blogs as many cannot afford the required licence fees to register them. And internet cafes may start closing down too as the new law requires them to install expensive security cameras.

The country’s Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017 has been condemned as draconian. The law states :
All blogs, online forums, content hosts and content producers must register online and pay licence fees of up to USD 900 ;

Internet cafes must install surveillance cameras to monitor people online ;
Material deemed “offensive, morally improper” or that “causes annoyance,” is prohibited and a minimum fine of USD2,230 or 12 months in jail as a minimum sentence is recommended for anyone found guilty ; Social media comments are even subject to the new regulations.

In addition, people can be charged for not having passwords on their computers, laptops and smartphones.
The regulation, however, does not state a maximum jail term, meaning a magistrate could send an offender to prison for an indeterminate period of time.

There is also the Cyber Crime Act, which can be used to arrest dissenting journalists and citizens and the Statistics Act, which limits the publication of data to the government’s Bureau of Statistics.

These regulations together with other laws aimed at curtailing freedom of expression and press freedom are one of the reasons for Tanzania’s poor performance in the latest Freedom Index rankings. The country ranks 93 out of 180 countries across the globe.

Rugemeleza Nshala, a prominent Tanzanian lawyer, tells IPS that freedom of expression is facing the biggest challenge in recent times here.
“We have reached a point where former Ugandan president Idi Amin’s famous quote when he said ‘there is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech’ is becoming relevant in Tanzania. Newspapers are shutdown unconstitutionally, and citizens criticising the president are arrested and magistrates, who want to please the president, jail suspects without hesitation.”

Last year alone, three newspapers were suspended.

Nshala says that enforcement of the online content regulations has scared people from giving their opinion openly according to Article 18 of the Constitution of Tanzania, which grants citizens freedom of expression and opinion without interference.

Source : http://socialistbanner.blogspot.com