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Tanzania's Bloggers Shut Down Websites As Online Content Regulations Are Enforced

Tanzania's bloggers who have not yet registered and acquired a licence as required by recently adopted online content regulations, are reported to have shut down their websites after the government threatened them with legal action. The government is reported to have warned owners of online platforms on June 11, 2018, to comply with the regulations before June 15, 2018 or close their websites. Among websites that have shut down is that for the country's most popular and whistle blowing online platform called Jamii Forums.

Tanzania's online content regulations require the country's bloggers and other online platforms to register with the state owned Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority and acquire a licence at a cost of about $900. However, given low incomes in Tanzania, the licence may be financially out of reach to many bloggers. Besides, operating online illegally can be catastrophic to bloggers, facing fines up $2200 or/and imprisonment up to 12 months.

The highly controversial regulations have been mercilessly castigated in numerous quarters, both locally and internationally, as been nothing more than part of increasing authoritarianism by the government of Tanzania, aimed at among others curtailing individual freedom and particularly freedom of expression.

The regulations are very likely to take Tanzanians, especially the youth, digitally backwards. Keeping them away from the mainstream of global digital publishing and discourses, hence missing associated economic benefits.

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