MTWARA Zone of the High Court has thrown out a case lodged by activists calling for a review of the Electronic and Postal Communication Act, along with its Online Content Regulations, 2018, which the government drafted to create ‘sanity’ in online platforms.
According to the judgment delivered by the High Court, media stakeholders who filed the case have failed to prove beyond doubt on how the regulations would affect their best (practices) rights.
Following the decision, the government has urged operators of blogs, online radio and television to register the outlets at the industry regulator, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), for formal recognition.
“The regulations are meant to officially recognize providers of online content and also create sanity in new media,” the Director-General of Tanzania Information Services (Maelezo), Dr Hassan Abbas, who doubles as Chief Government Spokesperson, told the ‘Daily News’ in an exclusive interview.
He added: “Even developing countries in the European Union have such rules in place ... and the government is open to better and closer working relations with stakeholders to enforce the regulations.”
Petitioners were asking the court to review the draft regulations from the Minister responsible for Information, Culture and Sports, whom they claimed had acted outside his authority and that the new rules violated principles of natural justice.
The High Court sitting in Mtwara on May 4, this year, issued a temporary injunction preventing implementation of the regulations, including registration of all online platforms whose deadline was set for May 5, this year.
The petitioners came from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) Jamii Media, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders (THRD) and the Tanzania Editors Forum (TFF).
The State was represented by advocates Alesia Mbuya, Ladislaus Komanya, Killey Mwitasi and Abubakar Mrisha from the Solicitor-General’s Office who were also joined by lawyers from the TCRA, Dr. Filipo Filikunjombe, John Daffa and Johannes Kalungula.