Tanzania bloggers win lawsuit

Tanzanian bloggers and rights activists won a first, although not final, court lawsuit against a government order to register their online platforms that raised concern about a crackdown on free speech.

Tanzania’s communications regulator had given bloggers, as well as owners of other online forums such as YouTube TV channels, until May 5 to heed tough new internet content rules through state registration and a license fee of up to $900.

Six human rights and media organizations, and bloggers filed a joint case in Tanzania’s high court asking the judiciary to block implementation of the regulations, arguing that they violate freedom of expression and privacy of internet users.

In his ruling, Judge Fauz Twaib (pictured) ordered the Information Ministry and the state communications regulator (TCRA) not to enforce the deadline pending another hearing to decide the case.

The new rules also require bloggers to disclose the details of shareholders, share capital, citizenship of owners, staff qualification and training programs, as well as a tax clearance certificate, to obtain an operating license.

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