Week in Review: 13 April 2018

by Dan Bateyko

Russia bans the messaging app Telegram

Russia’s media regulator moved to block the messaging app Telegram on Friday after Telegram missed an April 4 deadline to hand over encryption keys, reports the BBC. The app, which is used widely in Russia, allows users to communicate without their messages being read by third-parties.

While a court has ordered that access be blocked, Telegram is still available at the time of writing. A Reuters article notes that media regulator Roskomnadzor did not give an exact time but would enforce the ban soon.

Tanzania sets an annual $930 “Blogger Tax”

As part of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, Tanzania introduced a $940 annual license fee to certify bloggers before publishing online, reports CNN. CNN adds that “online radio stations, online streaming platforms, online forums, social media users and internet cafes” will also be affected by the regulation.

According to Quartz, the new fee is part of a larger process of accreditation, in which applicants must detail their staff’s qualifications and future growth plans. Tanzania authorities may ask publishers to remove prohibited content and revoke accreditation if the website’s content threatens harm or public safety. Global Voices, reporting on the new regulations, enumerates prohibited content as “nudity, hate speech, explicit sex acts, extreme violence, ‘content that causes annoyance’, fake news, and ‘bad language’ among other restrictions. Those who do not comply with the law may face fines of “five million Tanzanian shillings” or around $2,500 USD and imprisonment.

In a policy brief from November of last year, the ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (CISPA) reviewed the then proposed regulation, acknowledging some important provisions, while calling for a clearer definitions and wording and a mechanism for appeals. The full policy brief can be found here.

Mozilla releases new Internet Health Report

The Mozilla Foundation released its Internet Health Report this week, a compilation of research and stories from researchers and practitioners on the Internet’s impact on societal and personal wellbeing in five issue areas: privacy and security, decentralization, openness, digital inclusion, and web literacy.

The report includes data visualizations from Access Now’s #KeepItOn campaigns documentation on Internet shutdowns, a list of digital skills for mobile Internet users, and results from Mozilla’s global survey on people’s sentiments regarding Internet connected devices. To read more, visit the Internet Health Report’s website at https://internethealthreport.org/.