The Tanzanian blogging license


As part of sweeping new internet regulations, the Tanzanian government has introduced a $930 fee for those wanting to have an online blog, giving the authorities unprecedented control over the internet.

The government now requires all bloggers to pay the annual fee and register before they begin publishing material.

It’s not just bloggers affected by the provisions, but online radio stations, online streaming platforms, online forums, social media users and internet cafes.

Well, the Tanzanian government clearly sucks beans. But what else can you expect from an endemically corrupt east African backwater —

Oh, wait, this sounds familiar, actually.

How does a financially strapped city with a shrinking manufacturing base and rising unemployment attempt to make a little extra cash?

Tax the bloggers.

Philadelphia is demanding that bloggers pay $300 for a business license, whether or not the blog brings in a fraction of that amount in profit…

Note the assumption that Philadelphia’s version was only about revenue (or bureaucratic inertia) while Tanzania just wants to control everything. I don’t share that assumption. Not that Tanzania doesn’t want to control everything:

The legislation, officially known as the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018, also sets out a series of prohibited content, including “content that causes annoyance… or leads to public disorder.”

Additionally, internet cafes are required to install surveillance cameras.


Local newspapers have reported that the government has introduced the regulations to curb “moral decadence.”

…but we’ve seen examples of all of that in America, too. Outlawing online annoyance? Check. Demanding that businesses install cameras? Check. Curbing “moral decadence” on the internet? There’s a reason they called it the Communications Decency Act (though the anti-porn parts of the law didn’t last long).

This isn’t just a Tanzanian problem.


Originally posted on April 16, 2018.

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