Media watchdog calls on Tanzania to scrap online content law

A man reads on March 23, 2017 in Arusha, northern Tanzania, the local English-written daily newspaper "The Citizen", whose front title refers to the sacking of Tanzanian information Minister after he criticised an ally of the president. Tanzania's President, aka "The Bulldozer" sacked his Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, after he criticised an ally of the president: the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner who had stormed into a television station accompanied by armed men. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Tanzania- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on Tanzania to scrap a new law regulating Internet content, saying it targeted critics who had sought a “safe haven” online.

Tanzania government enacted a new law that requires operators of online platforms to reveal the name of their sources and contributors if and when the authorities require it.

Under the new law, new websites and blogs that breach the law could possibly be banned from posting new content and face prosecution.

RSF said that country’s largest online news site Jamii Forums  which has over 500 000 followers, have refused to comply to the requirements, where they had a deadline of last Friday to meet them, have been suspended on Twitter.

The law also requires the sites to pay a fine for license and other fees that amounts to $900 a year – failure to comply may result in closure, a fine of up to $2 200 and a 12-month jail term.

Arnaud Froger RSF head of Africadesk said,  “Some online information providers are going to disappear because they cannot afford the exorbitant cost of a licence, while others, such as Jamii Forums, may have to cease operating in Tanzania for good because the authorities want them to reveal their sources.”

“The Tanzanian authorities must repeal this law and must stop targeting critics who found a safe haven online.”

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