Tanzania’s communications regulator has issued a two-week deadline for bloggers to register their platforms under strict new online content rules, amid concerns that the government is cracking down on internet users, Reuters reports.
The regulations passed in March make it mandatory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as Youtube TV channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a licence.
Digital activists said the move was the latest salvo in a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015 and has pledged to speed up economic growth and development.
Applicants are required to provide details of shareholders, share capital, citizenship of owners, staff qualification and training programmes, and a tax clearance certificate.
Bloggers convicted of failure to comply with the new rules could be subject to a fine of at least 5 million shillings ($2,200) or a prison sentence of a minimum 12 months, or both.
Many people sympathizing with Tanzanian bloggers on twitter think this will stifle freedom of speech on the internet ;
This… is silly. You cant levy charges on free expression. Next, everyone with a mouth will be charged a talking fee? #Magufulicrap
— David Makali (@davidmakali1) April 22, 2018
This is sad. Freedom of expression is a basic human right.
— isaac ojino (@hojinx) April 24, 2018
No freedom of Speech in Tanzania now
Blogger registration form pay $50, if verify to publish info you pay $500 per year.
— Meleji kitumi (@PrinceKitumi) April 25, 2018
— African SFL (@AfricanSFL) April 25, 2018
If your a blogger or online publisher you have two weeks to do the registration unless you won't be able to publish anything really????? Tanzania where are we heading? @MagufuliJP #freedomofexpressuoninTz
— amybrown (@AmybrownAmymo95) April 24, 2018
— Ripples Nigeria (@RipplesNG) April 25, 2018