Habari za asubuhi,
That’s good morning’ in Swahili
Trevor Noah makes a living on American television making fun of the president of a country that he doesn’t even come from.
That’s a privilege.
When Idris Sultan, a Tanzanian comedian, made face-swaps of President Magufuli, he was charged with cyberbullying under the provisions of the country’s Cybercrimes Act, and was detained.
The act’s good parts
The 2015 Cybercrimes Act addresses some serious stuff like computer-related fraud, child pornography, intellectual property rights etc.
Furthermore, unlike Nigeria’s proposed social media bill
, it absolves ISPs of a lot of the blame for their user’s activities.
It seems to be working too.
According to Tanzanian police, cybercrime incidents dropped from 7,000 to 3,000
between 2018 and this year.
But the law is repressive. The police has sweeping powers of enforcement, leaving little power with the court system.
Then it is heavy on the kinds of stuff that can be, and in this case, has been weaponized by political forces. Things like ‘fake news’ and cyberbullying.
According to cybersecurity firm Symantec, only 24 out of 54 African countries have legal provisions to fight cybercrime. Tanzania is one of them.
But the country’s law was written with enough ambiguity to pose a potential threat to civil liberties. It’s time for an amendment.