The Tanzanian govt has reportedly restricted internet access in the run-up to the country’s general elections being held today (28/10/20). Efforts to suppress internet and social media access surfaced yesterday on Twitter.
In a report from Quartz Africa, the most widely available and used platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are either blocked or restricted. On top of that, there was a directive issued by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on Saturday that ordered telecoms companies to suspend bulk SMSes and bulk calls as well as individual messages with any mention of the general election until the 11th of November.
The reason behind that directive was that bulk SMSes might negatively impact the forthcoming general election. Bulk SMSes from e-government and financial services are among those that were exempted.
Restricting internet access serves the needs of a few and neglects many
Social media and the internet are deeply entrenched in our societies. They allow us to share information beyond whatever events are taking place. In the case of an election, like the one happening in Tanzania, the electorate needs as much information as possible.
The African Declaration on Internet Rights states that everyone has the right to use the internet and digital technologies in relation to freedom of assembly and association, including on social networks and platforms. There shouldn’t come a time where these rights should be suspended in order to serve the needs of the few.