Tanzania recently signed into law regulations that would govern social media and blogging in the country and it was quite extensive. It ranged from forcing people to register their online businesses and paying for licences that last for three years. They also went ahead to give people upto May 5th (last Saturday) to complete registration, but now it seems that has been put on hold.
According to Africa News, Tanzanian bloggers and rights activists won a temporary court injunction against the government on Friday. The 6 human rights watchdogs, bloggers and media organizations filed this case in the high court where they argued that the new provisions violated freedom of expression and privacy of Internet users. Tanzania has a population of over 55 million, of which less than half (23 million) are internet users.
The judge ordered the information ministry and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) not to enforce the deadline pending another hearing for the case.
The new regulations, The Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations, required bloggers and any other internet based service to declare their names of shareholders, their particulars, estimated cost of investment, tax clearance certifications and much more on the form. They were also required to pay more than $900 in fees which included an initial application fee, an initial licence fee and a renewable licence fee after three years. If they didn’t comply with the new rules, they were subject to a fine of not less than $2,200 or a prison sentence of a minimum of a year or both.
In the region, Uganda was also reported blocking ‘unauthorized’ news websites at ISP level and only a few online media sites were approved.