Tanzania’s government has approved a law that will regulate content posted online, introducing fees for bloggers and online media in addition to policing morals and authenticity of social media users.
The regulation known as the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018, was initially published by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and came into effect during March 2018.
Under the new regulations, Tanzanians operating online radio stations and video (TV) websites, including bloggers will be required to apply for a licence, pay a licence fee upon registration as well as annual fees.
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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 regulations give 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.
Despite TCRA holding public forums to discuss the draft document published in 2017 where various stakeholders raised objections, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, Tanzania’s Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, went ahead and signed the regulations into law.
“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.
The government contends that the new regulations will help to put a stop to the “moral decadence” cause 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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Mozambique: Government set to impose license fees for local journalists.
Mozambican government has announced plans to introduce license fees for local and foreign journalists.
Local correspondents will pay $2,500 per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.
Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.
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This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.
The plan fees have attracted serious criticism as the move has been viewed as an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.
Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has warned that the imposition of licensing fees on the country’s mass media must not compromise the fundamental right of the public to information.
In a statement, the CNDH, added its voice to the chorus of criticism of the proposed fees.
It conceded that the government has the right to update licensing and accreditation fees, but said such a measure should not undermine the right to information.
The CNDH points out that the current legal framework on access to information “takes as its guidelines the greatest divulging of information and free access to information… In other words, access to information is a matter of public interest and this access should be promoted and facilitated”.
It added: “The legal framework meant that the relevant state bodies must take measures to promote the broadest possible access to information”.
CNDS also warns that the enormous fees imposed by the July decree are not in line with the guidelines contained in the legal instruments on the right to information that are in force in the country.
The justification given for the fees is that they are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the sector – but none of the money raised by the fees will go to the media.
The decree states that 60 percent of the money from the fees will go to the state budget, and the remaining 40 per cent will go to the government’s press office (Gabinfo).
Meanwhile, the government is showing signs of backing down.
On Tuesday, its spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, said the decree will be discussed with interested parties before its implementation.
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BREAKING: Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan dies
Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family.
The Nobel Peace Laureate was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African man to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat.
He had been a member of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for human rights, since it was founded in 2007. In 2013, he became its chairman.
He was founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which issued a statement on social media, saying: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…”