Man is convicted of operating unregistered YouTube account

08Jun 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Man is convicted of operating unregistered YouTube account

Dar es Salaam’s Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday sentenced a man to one-year imprisonment or a 5m/- fine by after finding him guilty of operating an unregistered YouTube account.

Resident Magistrate Maira Kasonde found John Chuwa (28) of Tabata Barracuda in Dar es Salaam guilty of opening and operating the account with neither registration nor licence from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

The Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations of 2019 stipulate that bloggers must register and pay over USD900 per year to conduct their business.

State Attorney Elizabeth Mkunde told the court that between various dates in 2018 and April 2019, Chuwa opened and operated an unregistered online content distribution channel which he used to broadcast news on the Tanzanian film industry known as Bongo Movies.

Mkunde described to the court that the gadgets Chuwa used to upload materials and interact with audiences were two mobile smartphones.

The magistrate handed down the sentence after being satisfied that Chuwa indeed committed the offence to which, according to the court, the accused confessed.

When given an opportunity defend himself before sentencing, Chuwa pleaded for leniency, saying that he was the sole bread winner in his family and fended for his sick mother and two young siblings.

By the time the court session came to an end, Chuwa had managed to pay the fine and escaped going to jail.

The High Court sitting in Mtwara on May 4, 2018 issued a temporary injunction preventing the implementation of the regulations, including the registration of all online platforms whose deadline was set for May 5, last year.

The petitioners came from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Jamii Media, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders (THRD) and Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF).

But the State made a successful case in defence of the law and the petition was thrown out in a ruling delivered in May last year.

Another law detested by activists is the Cybercrimes Act, passed in 2015, whose opponents say has played a significant role in stifling dissent in the country. In 2015 and 2016 alone, at least 14 Tanzanians were arrested and prosecuted under the law for insulting President John Magufuli on social media.