The Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018 will also see all bloggers, including individuals running online TV and radio services and forums, certified by the government before they start any online operations.
Besides the fee, the regulation also provides obligations that online users, including subscribers, must meet. They are required to not only ensure the space they are operating is safe, not in contravention of any written law and sensitive to cultural sensitivities of the users. The hosts are also required to provide guidelines to the users and moderate content to filter out prohibited content.
The law was proposed last year but it faced opposition from activists who claimed that the terms were ambiguous and that it violates the citizen’s freedom to expression and right to free speech. They also said it could be used as a way to prevent exposure of human rights violations and corruption.
“While content such as revenge pornography and that which promotes violent extremism may be justifiably removed promptly, the regulations may be unjustifiably applied to content such as that relating to exposure of corruption or human rights violations,” activists said in a statement in 2017.
Tanzania is not the only African country to propose such rules. In 2015, Nigeria signed into law the Cybercrime Act 2015 and in 2016 proposed the Anti-Social Media Bill which was later withdrawn by the Senate.
In Sudan, the Freedom of Access to Information Law not only classifies 12 types of information restricted from the citizens but can also be used to intimidate and even arrest journalists and activists.
Many other African countries, although without legislation, have censored content on or shut down the internet to quell dissent or avoid transmission of information, especially during elections.