Tanzania's Jamii Forums shut down by government

Popular Tanzanian forums and "leaks" website, Jamii Forums, has been temporarily shut down by government as it has not complied with the new regulations and license fees required of online content creators in Tanzania. This comes after Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) issued a notice to Jamii Forums reminding them that it is a legal offense to publish content on the Internet without having registered and paid for a license.

TCRA Jamii Forums
Notice issued by TCRA to Jamii Forums.

According to Tanzania's new online content regulations, starting from 11 June 2018 it will be illegal to publish content online without the requisite license.

"Kutokana na notisi iliyotolewa na Mamlaka ya Mawasiliano Tanzania(TCRA) leo Juni 10, 2018 inayotoa muda mfupi wa kututaka kusitisha utoaji huduma mara moja kabla ya Juni 11, 2018, tunalazimika kutii mamlaka na hivyo huduma hii haitapatikana kwa muda wakati tukifanya jitihada za kuhakikisha huduma inarejea. Maudhui ya notisi ya TCRA yanapatikana hapa: https://goo.gl/6tnBhR Kwa wateja wetu walio nchi nyingine, huduma hii itarejea mapema zaidi lakini kwa walio Tanzania kurejea kwa huduma kutategemeana na matokeo ya hatma ya jitihada za wawakilishi wetu walio Tanzania. Tunasikitika kuwa tunalazimika kufikia hatua hii ghafla lakini ni matumaini yetu kuwa wateja wetu mtaendelea kuwa wavumilivu katika kipindi hiki." reads a notice on the Jamii Forums website.

Loosely translated from Swahili, management at Jamii Forums has said that due to a notice issued by TCRA on 10 June 2018. They were instructed to cease operations on or before 11 June 2018. They have also stated that Jamii Forums will soon be avalaible for users outside Tanzania while users in Tanzania might have to wait a little longer.

Tanzania's new social media and blogging laws, officially known as known as the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017, were announced in March 2018. They require, among others, that online content creators pay an initial annual license fee of approximately $900 to operate. It was noted by many that the new regulations were a form of censorship and with the recent shut down of Jamii Forums it seems this is now true.

However, some rumors are that Jamii Forums are making presentations to Tanzanian authorities which also allegedly include them wanting not to be classified as "online content creators" as they operate a forum with mostly user generated content.

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