- Bloggers, online forums, online radios, online televisions to be registered with TCRA.
- Registration of online content providers is subject to tax compliance.
- Internet cafés are now required to install surveillance camera to record and archive activities inside the café.
- Breach of the Regulations will lead to fine of not less than TZS 5 M and/or imprisonment for a term of not less than 12 months..
On 12th March, 2018 the Tanzania Minister for Information, Culture and Sports (“the Minister”) approved and signed the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2018 (“the Regulations”). These Regulations were published into Government Gazette No. 133 of 16th March, 2018 after the approval of the Minister. The Minister approved these Regulations under the powers vested to him under Section 103 (1) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2010 (“the Act”).
Prior to the publication, the Regulations were well thought-out by the media owners and other interested stakeholders. A public hearing was held in Dar es Salaam on 29th September, 2017 whereby the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports held a meeting with the media stakeholders to obtain their views on the draft Regulations.
Our team at Breakthrough Attorneys took part of the public hearings with regards to the drafts Regulations. Our corporate department have prepared this article for purposes of raising awareness to the public on the publication of the Regulations and a synopsis on their contents.
2.0 Applicability of the Regulations (Regulation 2)
The Regulations apply on matters of application for service licenses, bloggers, internet cafes, content hosts, online forums, online radio or television, social media, subscribers, and users of online content and any other related online content.
One of the situations that these Regulations may apply is when one hosts a YouTube channel. Prior to when these Regulations came into force, hosting a YouTube channel was not subject to registration or payment of subscribed application and annual fees, etc. Now the Regulations requires the host to observe this new way of operating the online contents.
3.0 Notable Features of the Regulations
Below are notable features of the Regulations:
3.1 Role of TCRA
The TCRA is vested with powers to keep register of bloggers, online forums, online radio and online televisions; take action against non-compliance to the Regulations i.e. to order removal of prohibited content; and to conduct public awareness in relation to safe use of online content.
3.2 Obligations of the service providers and users of online forums:
Online forums include social media, discussion forums, and online broadcasts (radio and television). Obligations of service providers and users of online forums include the following:
3.2.1 Obligations of online contents and social media users (Regulation 5(2)& 10)
The subscribers and users of online content are obligated to ensure that their posts do not contravene the provision of these Regulations and any other written law. They are also responsible and accountable for the information posted in an online forum, social media, blog and any other related media.
On top of these obligations, social media users are also required to use password to protect any user equipment or access equipment or hardware to prevent unauthorised access or use by unintended persons.
3.2.2 General obligations of the service providers (Regulation 5(1) & (3) and 13(a) & (b))
Online content providers have obligations to ensure that online content is safe, secure and does not contravene the provisions of any written law; take into account trends and cultural sensitivities of the general public; establishing and make available online safe use policy or guideline; use moderating tools to filter prohibited content; have in place mechanisms to identify source of content.
Other general obligations include taking corrective measures for objectionable or prohibited content; to ensure prohibited content is removed within 12 hours upon being notified; to cooperate with law enforcement officers in pursuing functions under these Regulations; ensure that children do not register, access or contribute to prohibited content; also that users are provided with content filtering mechanism and parental control.
3.2.3 Other Obligations of the Application Service Licensees (Regulation 6 (1)-(5))
Other notable obligation to the application services licensees upon entering into a contract with subscribers, are to incorporate terms and conditions of service which include, the right to deny access or terminate service where a subscriber contravenes these Regulations; and right to remove prohibited content provided such removal is carried out in accordance with these Regulations
3.2.4 Obligations of a licensee online radio, online television and bloggers (Regulation 7)
A licensee of online radio and television intended for broadcasting over the public internet with the objective of informing, entertaining and educating the public shall abide to the regulations governing the broadcasting services; adhere to journalism ethics and professionalism; pay regulatory fees; submit to the regulator the human resource development plan; adhere to copyright and intellectual property Laws and Regulations; adhere to ownership and corporate obligations Provided under the Act; adhere to local content requirements.
These obligations applies to Tanzania residents, Tanzanian citizens outside the Country, non-citizens of Tanzania residing in the country, blogging or running online forums with contents for consumption by Tanzanians.
3.2.5 Other Obligations of Internet Café (Regulation 9)
It is mandatory for every internet café or business center to ensure that all computers used for public internet access at the café are assigned public static IP addresses; establish and publish a safe internet use policy for safe use of the internet with regards to online content and post it on conspicuous place; computer home screen or display the same on a visible areas for users to read before using the service; to put in place mechanism to filter access to prohibited content; to install surveillance camera to record and archive activities inside the café; to keep a proper service user register and ensure every person using internet service is registered upon showing a recognized identity card.
It is also mandatory for the images recorded by surveillance camera and the register of users recorded pursuant to be kept for a period of twelve months.
3.3 Application and cancellation of online content service license (Regulation 14 & 15)
Application for provision of online content services is made through the prescribed application form set out in the First Schedule to the Regulations and pay fees as set out in the Second Schedule to the same.
Among other things; the applicant has to be tax compliant, thus the application for registration need to be supported with the applicant’s TIN and Tax Clearance Certificates. Other supporting documents and required information include information on share capital of the company, estimated cost of investment, staff establishment and qualification, citizenship of applicant’s shareholders/directors, other documents/information as the Authority may require, etc.
It should be noted that, TCRA reserves the right to cancel the content service license where the terms and conditions are breached. This however, has to be done after notifying the licensee in writing.
3.4 Offences and Penalty (Regulation 18)
Any person who contravenes the provisions of the Regulations, commits an offence and shall, upon conviction be liable to a fine not less than five million Tanzanian Shillings or to imprisonment for a term not less than twelve (12) months or to both.
It is apparent that online social networks have gained a number of users in Tanzania. This is due to the development of the Information and Communication Technology. Many people now, from children to adults have access to internet on their mobile devises i.e mobile phones and tablets, computers and other devices supporting internet. It is estimated that about 15% of Tanzanians are users of online social networks. This include but not limited to Jamii Forum, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Telegram, Viber, Snapchat etc.
The usage of these online social networks apart from facilitating communication has been used negatively by some other users to perpetrate criminal offences. This abuse has necessitated the need for enactment of Regulations in order to regulate online users. It is important for all users of online social media and networks to abide with the Regulations in order to avoid legal consequences for breach of the Regulations. The corporate team at Breakthrough Attorneys calls upon the general public to abide with the Regulations in order to avoid negative legal consequences for contravention of the Regulations.
This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and, to the extent permitted by law, Breakthrough Attorneys, its members, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.