In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews the compatibility of the Tanzania Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) in the light of international standards on freedom of expression.
The Regulations were adopted on 16 March 2018 and issued pursuant to Section 103(1) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010, which grants powers to the Minister responsible for communications to make regulations upon recommendation of the Committee on content related matters.
Our analysis shows that the Regulations prohibit content in overly broad terms and impose confusing registration or licensing requirements which are in breach of international standards on freedom of expression. The lack of any clear definitions in the Regulations is especially concerning given that failure to comply with the regulations is punished with heavy sanctions, which include a minimum term of 12 months imprisonment, or minimum fines of five million Tanzanian Shillings, or both.
The Regulations also grant sweeping powers of content removal to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Tanzania’s communications regulator. These powers contain no safeguards against abuse, and will almost certainly have the effect of stifling legitimate freedom of expression in Tanzania. These powers are therefore plainly incompatible with international human rights law.
ARTICLE 19 concludes that the Regulations are so flawed that they should be withdrawn entirely. Any proposal to regulate online content should be the subject of primary legislation, and should involve further discussion with all relevant stakeholders. We therefore suggest that the Regulations should be withdrawn in their entirety.