Tanzania orders unregistered bloggers to suspend their websites

11 Jun 2018

Threatening legal action against unlicensed websites, the Tanzanian authorities have ordered all unregistered Tanzanian bloggers and online forums to shut down their platforms. Those who do not comply with the order can face fines and imprisonment. The move comes after regulation passed in March, which obliges providers of online content (such as bloggers or owners of YouTube channels) to register with the government and pay for a license. The law has drawn criticism, as it is believed to be part of a ‘crackdown on dissent and free speech’. According to the government, the new regulation aim to address online crimes, such as hate speech, cyberbullying, and pornography.

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Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.

One of the main sociocultural issues is content policy, often addressed from the standpoints of human rights (freedom of expression and the right to communicate), government (content control), and technology (tools for content control). Discussions usually focus on three groups of content:

 

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