Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, July 5, 2023.
How the port deal discussion is testing Samia’s resolve to protect civic space
The Tanzanian government has entered into a dubious economic partnership deal with the Emirate of Dubai, and now it bullies its citizens from criticising it.
These incidents are all too familiar. They are also worrying signs for a fragile country that emerged from authoritarianism a few years ago. When President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office, many had warned that mere rhetoric and promises from the president to uphold democratic principles were not enough; we needed legal reforms to protect civic space.
Many others were more hopeful and decided to give the new government the benefit of the doubt. However, the cracks are becoming increasingly obvious now, and we should raise the red flags seriously.
Full analysis here.
Social media: Tanzania’s next frontier for political engagement?
No one can deny the power of social media and its impact on how people behave and react to current affairs. They have given millions across the globe access to produce and publish news in a way that was unfathomable just a few years ago.
We saw how social media led to the Arab Spring after a video of Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself on fire in protests against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia went viral. What happened next is history.
We have seen how videos on social media of the killings of unarmed black people by the police in the US sparked protests and gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement. Each subsequent killing led to more protests against the police, largely organised and galvanised through social media.
Right now, social media are awash with protests following the shooting by the police of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, a French teenager of Algerian descent. Social media have been so instrumental in fueling the protests that the French government contemplated shutting them down.
In Tanzania, social media has thus far been used by citizens to express either their support or grievances towards the government’s decisions and policies. It is where many young Tanzanians are now turning to as a source of current affairs and a means of expressing their needs and desires.
Full analysis here.
New study faults Tanzania’s implementation of biometric digital identity programs
A new report has found deficiencies in Tanzania’s implementation of biometric digital identity programs, allowing mobile network operators in the country to undermine individuals’ right to privacy, consequently leading to their failure to respect digital rights.
The report, based on a study by a local digital rights advocacy organisation Digital Agenda for Tanzania Initiative (DA4TI), highlights that the government’s continuing failure to establish a data protection authority has left room for mobile network operators handling biometric digital identity data to interpret the data protection law on their own, thus undermining the principle of legal certainty.
The report also notes that operators’ failure to provide comprehensive and transparent privacy policies results in non-compliance with the requirement for transparent data processing and violation of data subjects’ right to be informed.
The study also observed the “strengthening of a disproportionate surveillance ecosystem” in Tanzania, “resulting from legal requirements for [mobile network operators] to submit SIM card databases and support information disclosures to the government.”
Tanzania upgraded its legal identification processes in 2013 to encompass digital technologies, including biometric technology, and promote their interconnected use for public and private services, including mobile connectivity.
The country is credited for its significant success in facilitating its citizenry to acquire biometric digital IDs and subsequently interfacing its digital ID system with 74 public and private institutions to promote various goals and objectives, such as crime prevention, social protection, and financial inclusion.
However, the report by DA4TI, published in June 2023, notes that authorities need to more to express their commitment to protecting digital rights in Tanzania. For example, it calls on the government to operationalise the 2022 Personal Data Protection Act by establishing the Personal Data Protection Commission.
Coming into effect on May 1, 2023, the Personal Data Protection Act assigns the commission the responsibility for monitoring its compliance. It introduces data collection, use, disclosure, transfer, and retention restrictions.
The maximum fine for contravention of the law is Sh5 billion for corporate entities and Sh20 million for individuals. The maximum jail term is ten years.
The report by DA4TI demanded mobile network operators in Tanzania comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Tanzania’s 2022 Personal Data Protection Act to protect subscribers’ right to privacy and data protection.
It also urged operators to prioritise a proportionate balance between government data requests and subscribers’ privacy rights by “refusing to comply with any unlawful requests for individuals subscriber data” or “demanding court orders or warrants of authorisation.”
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