In Summary
  • The regulations will also see online users stripped off anonymity.

  • This means that the government can force websites to take down "prohibited" content, broadly defined to include material that "causes annoyance."

  • Websites are therefore required to "have in place mechanisms to identify" those who interact on the forums, and that cyber cafes keep user logs for up to 12 months.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wants the Tanzanian government to withdraw its latest threats to online forums, blogs and streaming websites.

In a statement, CPJ on Tuesday urged the John Magufuli administration to rescind its Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, saying they pose a threat to online media.

NO ANONYMITY

The regulations were first issued in March by Tanzanian Information Minister Harisson Mwakyembe.

But it is the directive from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on Monday requiring all online forums, blogs and websites to register with the government by June 15 that has sparked the protests.

The regulations will also see online users stripped off anonymity.

This means that the government can force websites to take down "prohibited" content, broadly defined to include material that "causes annoyance."

Websites are therefore required to "have in place mechanisms to identify" those who interact on the forums, and that cyber cafes keep user logs for up to 12 months.

Failure to comply with these regulations can carry a prison term of up to 12 months and fines of up to five million Tanzanian shillings (US$2,200).

According to CPJ’s Africa Coordinator Angela Quintal, such a policy is retrogressive and erodes online media in Tanzania and beyond.

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