The manner people use the internet has always been controlled in some way or another by governments across the globe. Online communications, while backed up by a ton of freedom of expression clauses, have never really been free and fair for a wide range of reasons.
In Africa, for instance, we have seen governments shut down the internet during major events such as elections or mass demonstrations. The shutdown is always supported by the need to protect people against misinformation. In most cases, it is leveraged to manage the public against calling out leaders from engaging in activities that are mostly not legal.
That aside, it is challenging to rationalize why online monitoring happens. Every player has reason to support or dispute a shutdown whenever it happens, and it is always hard to arrive at a middle ground.
Kenya, for instance, monitors online transactions (mobile money activities) to identify people that do not remit their fair share of taxes.
If that is bad enough, Kenya is also considering installing a spying tool named Device Management System (DMS) that targets mobile networks. DMS, allegedly, should enable authorities to listen to phone conversations and read mobile money transactions. DMS has since been disputed by the LSK.
Across the border, it has been reported that Tanzania’s ICT regulator (Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority) has the mandate to ‘take action against non-compliance to regulations including but not limited to ordering and/or barring of prohibited contents.’
According to a document published online, the country’s Online Content Regulations provide minimum requirements of what is required for online content providers, which include obtaining licenses from the regulator.
President Magufuli determined to silence Tanzanians.
In the new demand from ISPs, he is determined to see TCRA monitor both IP traffic and the 'radius' protocol that identifies subscribers to IP addresses.
— Robert Alai (@RobertAlai) August 14, 2020
So far, the regulator has been regulating the online space by enforcing online content regulations and policies. For instance, it has been giving directives to ISPs. Reportedly, some ISPs have not been meeting the directives.
To overcome the shortcoming, the regulator will deploy a monitoring tool to ‘ease the burden and enhance efficiency and assurance of ensuring compliance’ to online policies.
The tool will be installed in all ISP networks.
The regulator says it is in the preparation stage of deploying the tool, which should be completed in August 2020.
To meet the agenda, each service provider is required to have a technical Focal Point of Contact (FPoC) to link them to the regulator.