Gov’t defends stats, cybercrime bills

Tanzania's presidential spokesman defended two bills, which activists claim are 'draconian,' and says President Kikwete will sign them into law 'soon.' Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Tanzania’s presidential spokesman defended the two bills, which activists claim are ‘draconian,’ and says President Kikwete will sign them into law ‘soon.’ Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Tanzania’s presidential spokesman says President Jakaya Kikwete will sign the new statistics and cybercrime bills into law ‘soon’ and denied that the bills would infringe on personal freedoms.

“There is no country that does not have this law to protect and address cybercrime challenges,” says director of presidential communications Salva Rweyemamu.

“We must ensure the nation is protected from this new threat, caused by technology,” says Rweyemamu.

Activists — including over 50 human rights groups and civil groups — have roundly criticized the bills, saying they violate human rights and make already draconian laws even worse.

The cybercrime bill cracks down on illegal access, interception, interference, espionage, pornography and makes it an offense to make any “false, deceptive, misleading or inaccurate” statements online.

Lied about your age on Tinder? Get ready for a “fine not less than three million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to both.”

Maxence Melo, director of popular online hangout Jamii Forums says it’s a sign that the government wants to stifle public conversation and debate.

“The law is there to monitor all social networks,” says Melo.

Many Tanzanians will fall afoul of the cybercrime bill, says Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDS) country coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa, but adds the statistics bill is also very dangerous to Tanzania’s development.

The statistics bill requires any researcher or journalist to first bring their data to the National Bureau of Statistics for verification prior to publication.

“This will just be another loophole for the government to tight-lip them,” says Olengurumwa, who says the bill will ‘erase and discourage’ independent research in the country.

Activists say they’re considering taking the president to court, if he decides to pass the bills into law.

Read more: ‘Draconian’ bill stuns rights groups

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1 Comment on "Gov’t defends stats, cybercrime bills"

  1. It never fails for our government to create more entities to squeeze the life of a Tanzanian. If all the information has to be approved it means someone from the Government will be censoring what can be released or printed. This law if it is signed will prove another example of the Government reaching too far. Whatever happen to FREEDOM OF SPEECH and Freedom of the MEDIA to report the news without being tied down and worry about the big government hand snatching them if they right what the government feels is inappropriate?

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