The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has ordered DarMpya, an online news outlet, to suspend publication immediately.
This follows TCRA’s June 28 inspection of the outlet’s office, where authorities found that the outlet’s license had expired in 2021 and was operating in breach of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations.
According to BMA sources, DarMpya had applied for its license renewal shortly before the suspension.
The Tanzanian Information Minister, Nape Nnauye, stated that DarMpya had been under scrutiny for allegedly publishing unbalanced content but emphasised that the outlet’s suspension had nothing to do with its journalism and was solely due to its failure to comply with licensing requirements.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Tanzanian authorities should allow DarMpya to resume operations without further interference and reform the country’s online content regulations to muzzle the press.
“The authorities are using a repressive set of regulations to control who may and may not express themselves online. The suspension of the news outlet reveals how such regulations can become tools of censorship,” stated Muthoki Mumo, CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative.
DarMpya publishes national news and commentary on its website, on YouTube as DarMpya TV, with 809,000 followers, and on Twitter as DarMpya Blog, with over 309,000 followers.
The news outlet has not published content on those channels since July 2. Tanzania’s online content regulations were first published in 2018; at the time, CPJ called on regulators to remove the rules as they threatened the “diversity of online media.”
In 2020, a new version of the regulations was published, which was also amended earlier this year, narrowing the scope of the licensing requirements. However, news blogs, online television broadcasters, and online radio stations must still register with the regulator and comply with content restrictions.