Tanzania’s government has approved the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations. This law will help regulate content posted online, introduce fees for blogger and online media. The new regulation comes along with policing morals and authenticity of social media users.
TZS 2,044,665.03 to run a blog?!
Simply, all Tanzanians operating online radio and video sites, including bloggers, will be required to apply and pay for a license as well as annual fees. The application fee is 100,000 Tanzanian Shillings, equivalent to $44.02. Once the company or individual’s application is approved an initial license fee of 1,000,000 Tanzanian shillings ($440.17) is paid. This is followed by a renewable annual license fee of 1,000,000 Tanzanian shillings. In all, Tanzanians have to pay up to $900 (2,044,665.03 Tanzanian shillings) to manage a blog or website in the country!
Breakdown of the Online Content Law
The regulation gives the government the right to revoke a permit if a site publishes content that is considered to be ‘indecent, obscene, hate speech, extreme violence or material that will offend or incite others, cause annoyance, threaten, or encourage or incite crime, or lead to public disorder’.
Online content providers will also be required to remove ‘prohibited content’ within 12 hours or face fines not less than five million shillings ($2,210) or a year in prison.
The new regulations also require all Tanzanians with mobile devices to have a password (PIN) for locking their phones, with defaulters being fined up to 5 million Tanzanian Shillings (approximately $2,000) or 12 months imprisonment, or both depending on what the court decides.
Internet cafés and online platforms are also expected to install surveillance cameras to record and archive activities inside their business premises.
“The registration requirements and the fees are likely to be a heavy burden for most bloggers and small-sized outlets streaming content in Tanzania, thereby reducing diversity in the media space in the process,” Angela Quintal, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa program director said in an interview with Quartz Africa.
Good or Bad News
The internet has long been lauded as a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas, but not any more in Tanzania. The passing of this strict law promises to stifle online media portals and individual bloggers. Paying registration and license fees for a website or blog that brings in less that $500 a year is not an economically sound decision to be made.
Sounds like bad news brewing for Tanzanian bloggers and online content producers.