Tanzanian website owner arrested for not disclosing online members personal details

Batsirai Chikadaya Avatar

Co-founder of popular Tanzanian website Jamii Forums has been arrested under their Cyber Crime Law for not disclosing members personal data following requests from the police.

Their offices were raided on the 14 of December 2016 where the co-founder, Maxence Melo, was picked up by police while other staff members were questioned.

Jamil Forums is one of the most popular websites/community forums in Tanzania and to an extent in East Africa. The forum is a platform where members participate in political discussions and often reveal corrupt activities being conducted by their respective Government officials.

The co-founder is said to have resisted numerous demands by the police to reveal the identities and personal data of the members. The police are now using the Cyber Crime law Tanzania passed in 2015 and their Electronic and Postal Communications Act to charge him with the following crimes:

  1. obstructing investigation contrary to section 22(2) of the Cybercrimes Act, 2015
  2. management of a domain not registered in Tanzania, contrary to section 79(c) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, 2010

It is not the first time the Tanzanian authorities have used the Cyber Crime laws to arrest citizens, Back in September of this year 5 citizens were arrested for insulting their President on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter (basically on social media). Such moves by the Tanzanian authorities are aimed at trying to destabilise the growing online community in Tanzania who have found platforms to express their views and opinions on a wide range of topics.

Tanzanians already fear being arrested over what they post/say on social media platforms now their anonymity is at risk on online community forums if this arrest holds up in court.


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