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Freedom of speech concerns related to Tanzania´s new online content regulation

Written question to the HR/VP

The new “electronic and postal communications (online content) regulation” in Tanzania  introduces an annual licensing fee of approximately 930 dollars for those wanting to have an online blog in Tanzania wheras the adjusted net national income per capita in Tanzania in 2015 was 779 dollars. Bloggers, online forums, online radio and online television stations need to be certified by the government, and need to remove and filter within 12 hours a wide range of “prohibited content”, which includes “obscene content”, “content that causes annoyance, threatens harm or evil” or  “making available information with regards to the outbreak of a deadly or contagious diseases”. The regulation applies to also to Tanzanian citizens outside the country who are “blogging or running online forums with contents for consumption by Tanzanians”.  

1.    Does the HR/VP share concern about the impact of this law on universal human rights? Have concerns been raised in the context of the political dialogue of the Cotonou agreement, and if not, why not?

2.    The Cotonou Agreement underlines that "respect for human rights" constitute an "essential element" of the Agreement. Does the HR/VP consider that Tanzania fails to fulfil its human rights obligation stemming from the ICCPR, in particular regarding the right to freedom of speech and media pluralism with this law?

3.    Has the Tanzanian government consulted with the Commission or the EEAS in the drafting phase of this new regulation?