As part of sweeping new internet regulations, the Tanzanian government has introduced a $930 fee for online bloggers in the country, giving the authorities unprecedented control over the internet.
According to an article by CNN, the Tanzanian Government now requires all bloggers to pay the annual fee and register before they begin publishing material.
It’s not just bloggers affected by the provisions, but online radio stations, online streaming platforms, online forums, social media users and internet cafes.
As part of the requirements, bloggers will be required to provide a lengthy list of details, including share capital, tax certificates, estimated investments and other information to secure accreditation.
The legislation, officially known as the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018, also sets out a series of prohibited content, including “content that causes annoyance or leads to public disorder.”
Additionally, internet cafes are required to install surveillance cameras. Breaking these stipulations permits the regulatory authorities to revoke licenses. Local newspapers have reported that the government has introduced the regulations to curb “moral decadence.”
The new regulations come after a series of controversial laws were introduced in the past few years. Laws, such as the Cybercrimes Act 2015, have been used to charge people, one good example being Maxine Melo the director of the JamiiForums, the “Swahili Wikileaks,” who was charged in 2016 under the cybrercrimes law. The hashtag #FreeMaxenceMelo was launched after he was arrested.
A policy briefing released by Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) stated the new regulations threaten freedom of expression and the right to communicate information — a right guaranteed in Article 18 of the country’s constitution.
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.