TANZANIAN ELECTRONIC AND POSTAL COMMUNICATIONS (ONLINE CONTENT) REGULATIONS, 2020, PUBLISHED

By Charles Mmasi Friday, July 31, 2020
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On 17 July 2020, the Tanzanian Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports published the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2020 (2020 Online Content Regulations) which replace the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations published on 16 March 2018 (2018 Online Content Regulations).

The 2020 Online Content Regulations came into force immediately upon publication. They are, for the most part, similar to the 2018 Online Content Regulations, with certain key exceptions as follows below.

Definition of content

Regulation 14 of the 2018 Online Content Regulations required any person who wishes to provide online content services to fill in the prescribed application and pay the relevant fees in order to be issued with an online content service licence.

Regulation 3 broadly defined ‘content’ in this regard as ‘sound, data, text or images whether still or moving’. The definition of ‘content’ under the 2020 Online Content Regulations has been qualified to exclude content transmitted in private communications.

This change effectively carves out private communication from the ambit of the licensing requirements under regulations.

Categories of licences

The 2018 Online Content Regulations did not provide for different categories of online content licences, but set out services fees payable in respect of an online content services licence, a simulcasting television licence (streaming content on the internet) and a simulcasting radio licence (streaming content on the internet).

The 2020 Online Content Regulations have now specifically introduced four categories of online content licences. This provides additional certainty in respect of the licence required for each regulated activity.

The four categories of licences are as follows below:

  • Licence for the provision of predominant news and current affairs issued to an online content service provider whose content covers news, events and current affairs.
  • Licence for the provision of predominant entertainment content issued to an online content service provider whose content covers music, movies, series, plays, drama, comedy, sports and any other related entertainment content.
  • Licence for the provision of predominant educational and religious content issued to an online content service provider whose content covers religious information and content that aims at educating.
  • Simulcasting licence issued to mainstream broadcasting licensees with national coverage rights (this licence cannot be issued to mainstream content service providers with district or regional licences).

‘Predominant’ has been defined as content not below 85% of the licensed category measured on a weekly basis.

Supporting documents required for licence applications

While the 2018 Online Content Regulations required an applicant for an online content service licence to submit the prescribed application form, attach the supporting documents identified in the form and pay the prescribed fee, the 2020 Online Content Regulations include a specific list of supporting documents and information to be submitted by an applicant.

In this regard, the prescribed application form and fees for the relevant category of licence must be accompanied by certified copies of the following documents:

  • certificate of incorporation or certificate of registration;
  • tax identification number certificate;
  • tax clearance certificate for companies or non-governmental organizations;
  • national identity card for individual applicants;
  • list of owners and management team members;
  • curriculum vitae of the staff;
  • editorial policy guidelines (for a news and current affairs licence);
  • technical description of the facilities used; and
  • any other documents as the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (Authority) may require.

Prohibited content

The 2018 Regulations identified prohibited content under Regulation 12. An expanded and more detailed list of prohibited content has been introduced in the Third Schedule to the 2020 Online Content Regulations. It covers, among other things, content that motivates or promotes phone tapping, espionage, data theft, tracking, recording or intercepting communications or conversation without right.

Rights and obligations of application service licensees

The rights and obligations of an application service licensee have also been altered under the 2020 Online Content Regulations.

An application services licence is issued by the Authority pursuant to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2010 and the Electronic and Postal Communications (Licensing) Regulations, 2018. It entitles the holder to provide one or more application services, which are essentially services provided by means of one or more network services but do not include services provided solely on the customer side of the network boundary.

Mobile network operators are some of the entities that procure application services licences.

Under the 2018 Online Content Regulations, an application service licensee had 12 hours, from the time of notification by the Authority or by a person affected by the existence of prohibited content, to inform its subscriber to remove the prohibited content.

The time in which this must be done has been reduced to two hours under the 2020 Online Content Regulations. The time in which the application services licence holder is required to suspend or terminate the subscribers’ account (the sanction for failure to comply with a take-down notice) has also been reduced to two hours.