Tanzania: Draft online content laws undermine freedom of expression

Tanzania: Draft online content laws undermine freedom of expression - Digital

Camilita Ajiambo Siata types on a computer keyboard. She works for a Nairobi internet provider as a website designer, having gained professional training at Nairobits, a non-profit organisation which educates and trains youth from the poorer areas of the city. Camilita earns to support her whole family.

On 14 September  2021, ARTICLE 19 sent a memorandum to the Minister of Information, Culture and Sports of Tanzania expressing concern over the draft Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports of Tanzania introduced draft Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021 (2021 Amendment Regulations) in August 2021. The draft 2021 Amendment Regulations primarily amend the 2020 Regulations by introducing or repealing sections of the 2020 Regulations.

ARTICLE 19 has been following the development of these regulations for several years, analysing different proposals in this area for their compliance with international freedom of expression standards. In 2018, ARTICLE 19 conducted an analysis of Tanzania Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018 and in 2020 called on Tanzania to repeal Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2020.

ARTICLE 19 has consistently pointed to the fact that the Regulations restrict online content in overly broad terms and impose confusing registration or licensing requirements which are in breach of international standards on freedom of expression and with the Tanzanian Constitution.

Despite some positive aspects of the 2021 Amendment Regulations, we are concerned that the Ministry has so far failed to address the majority of the freedom of expression concerns. We reiterate our concerns with the original Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2020  and urge the Minister to drop the 2021 Amendment Regulations and to further repeal the 2020 Regulations in their entirety for their failure to comply with human rights standards.

Read the submission here: Submission to Tanzania ministry of information, culture and sports

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