Dar es Salaam — Media stakeholders have only seven days to submit their views on the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2017.
Speaking during the first public hearing held in Dar es Salaam, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Prof Elisante Ole-Gabriel, said the stakeholders would be required to submit their views in writing.
"I give you a week to pass through the draft, discuss it in your respective groups and prepare written documents giving your opinions. The deadline is October 6 after which the ministry's legal department will proceed," he said.
As he was issuing the directive, media stakeholders, who were meeting in a separate event to commemorate the International Day for Universal Access to Information, faulted the government timing to collect views from stakeholders.
According to Coalition of Right to Information chairman Kajubi Mukajanga, the government is aware of the International Day for Universal Access to Information and its importance to media stakeholders, yet it has decided to collect stakeholders' views on the same day.
"We're here to discuss issues relating to access to information, yet the government is collecting views from stakeholders on access to information regulations at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre. How can we be at two places at the same time?" queried Mr Mukajanga.
The conference is held for the first time in the country at the national level.
"We don't know how we will divide ourselves to participate in both events unless a miracle happens," he said.
For his part, Sikika executive director Irenei Kiria said: "The government should prepare a discussion meeting on the Access to Information Act so that all stakeholders can get an opportunity to present their views."
Among contentious provision in the regulations is requirement by media houses, which have online products to acquire licences, which are different from those of print media. This, according to them, will hike the cost of registration.
Another is the requirement forcing online content providers to reveal their sources information.
If endorsed the regulations will force service providers like internet cafes to install user manuals and record proceedings of their business around the clock. They will be required to install CCTV cameras to monitor all activities of those walking in and out of the premises.