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Tanzania’s “Moral Decadence” Cyber Regulations Includes This Shocking Requirement

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Tanzania’s government has approved new internet regulations, giving itself unprecedented control over the internet. The government contends that the new Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018 will help to put a stop to the “moral decadence” caused by social media and internet in the country. Social media has also been described as a threat to national security by some policy makers in Tanzania.

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Below are some of the regulations

Blogging License Fees: With an application fee of 100,000 Tanzanian Shillings, an initial license fee of 1,000,000 Tanzanian Shillings and an annual license fee of 1,000,000 Tanzanian Shillings, Tanzanians have to pay up to $900 to operate a personal blog in the country.  The $930 blogging fee will likely be a barrier for many people in a country where, according to the World Bank in 2016, GDP per capita was just $878 a year. “Where are bloggers and online platforms going to get the money to pay such high charges?” asked Neville Meena of the Tanzania Editors Forum, who regards the law as a government attempt to “restrict access to information in Tanzania.”

Internet Content Regulations: The Tanzanian government has 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. online platforms are required to bar anyone from posting anonymously or without being registered. “This is going to kill bloggers in Tanzania,” said Mike Mushi, one of the cofounders of the Jamii Forums news platform. “Most will lose advertisers since they are not legally registered,” he told RSF.

Mandatory Mobile Security: Tanzanians with mobile devices are required to secure it with a password or be fined. The fines can go up to 5 million Tanzanian shillings (aboug $2000)

Internet Cafés Surveillance: Internet cafés are required to have surveillance to record and archive activities inside their business premises.

Maxence Melo

Digital activist Maxence Melo is the founder of Jamii Forums, a Swahili-language whisteblowing and blogging site. He was charged in 2016 under a cybrercrimes law. The hashtag #FreeMaxenceMelo was launched after he was arrested.

“These regulations were supposed to uphold citizens’ rights to privacy, access to information and free expression,” Maxence Melo, the director of the Jamii Forums, the “Swahili Wikileaks,” told CNN. “We have completely lost our Freedom on the Cyberspace.”

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