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Tanzania - media freedom org calls digital content laws repressive, censorship

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Tanzania , 25 Jul 2022

Not-for-profit organisation Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) Tanzania has urged the East African country’s government to tone down its harsh regulation of online content, arguing the current laws are tantamount to censorship.

Tanzania’s Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations, which came into effect in 2018, require all online news sources, including websites and blogs, to register with the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

The regulations empower authorities to force websites to remove “prohibited content” which authorities broadly define as material that causes “annoyance”.

CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Muno said, “Tanzanian authorities are using repressive set of regulations to control who may and who may not express themselves online.”

Muno referred to the recent suspension of the DarMpya news outlet as an example of how regulation can be used to censor. DarMpya publishes national news and commentary on its website, as well as on YouTube as DarMpya TV and on Twitter as DarMpya blog.

On 1 July 2022, the TCRA ordered DarMpya online to immediately suspend publication alleging that the news outlet was in breach of the Electronic and Postal Communication (online content) regulations for publishing without a valid licence.

The closure of the station came just days after TCRA officials stormed and inspected the station.

Muno said, “Authorities should allow DarMpya to resume operations without interference and urgently reform the country’s laws to nurture rather than limit press freedom.”

Tanzanian Information Minister Mape Nnauye said while DarMpya had been under scrutiny for unbalanced content, its suspension had nothing to do with editorial decisions, but solely due to its failure to comply with licencing requirements.

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