THE government has warned that it will take stern legal action against social media group administrators and individuals, who circulate indecent online content.
The warning comes after a lengthy monitoring carried out by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), which has established that some viewers of foreign paid online content (pay per view/video on demand) have been watching and distributing indecent content on social networks to members of the public.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye said that the presence of such displeasing content from other parts of the world was polluting the minds of members of the public, especially children.
He was particularly dismayed with distribution of contents that promote homosexuality, lesbianism, pornographic and other explicit video clips, cultivating moral decay within the society.
“The government is not ready to turn its back while people receive various bad taste online content…such behaviour is plunging our future generations into the mess of immortality. We will not tolerate this at all,” avowed Minister Nape.
He said the government has come up with laws and regulations to prohibit obscene, indecent and profane content from being circulated, including holding social media group administrators and individuals accountable of any posted indecent content that is circulated.
Regulations in Tanzania make chat group administrators responsible and even criminally liable for messages and images containing pornographic content.
Minister Nape insisted that the regulations are very clear, saying it requires group administrators and individuals to immediately delete any indecent and obscene online content whenever they receive them, instead of spreading the same.
“We have laws and regulations in place to hold culprits accountable and the government through TCRA; will keep on tracing to identify those who will continue to distribute indecent and obscene content.
“Let me assure you that when tracked and traced, all the culprits will be taken to law enforcement organs to face justice. This is why, I insist that if you receive such clips, delete them immediately,” said Mr Nape.
“It is illegal for anyone to distribute sodomy content even if the primary aim is to alert and educate others to shun against the acts. Don’t share those video clips in your groups or other networks. In case of receiving them accidentally, you should delete them there and then,” the minister said.
Mr Nape said that much as the internet has become more ubiquitous and essential to Tanzanians life, it was equally imperative to use the technology carefully and for positive gains such as enhancing businesses and education materials as well as accelerating communication.
He emphasised that it is the responsibility of parents, guardians and teachers to ensure that children are protected from being exposed to inappropriate content, especially those shared through social networks.
“We need to prevent children from having access to adult content. Teachers and parents should play a key role in child protection and keeping them away from adult online content because they are the most vulnerable from being corrupted morally,” he said.
On conventional media outlets, the minister said that after monitoring all broadcasting media that were licensed to broadcast activities in the country, it has been established that they have not committed such mistakes.
However, he said that they will continue to be monitored by regulatory bodies to ensure that such content does not find its way in.
Regardless, Mr Nape said the country’s internet space was largely safe and well protected.
“In general, our internet space is safe because TCRA is at work day and night to ensure that we continue to be safe and even when there is negative content that violates the law, the regulator takes appropriate action for those involved in collaboration with other government agencies,” he explained.
He also said that the government will continue to focus on promoting the production of quality local content that is based on Tanzanian culture, traditions, customs and values.
Preaching during yesterday’s Sunday service, a Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) Wilbroad Mastai called for the need to rescue youths from immoral acts influenced by uncontrolled smartphone and internet usage.
“We must be awake, youths; boys especially are soaked in watching immoral contents using smartphones. This has led them astray into indulgence in drunkenness, laziness and pornography and they don’t go to church anymore,” said Mastai as he preached his church’s congregants at Kimara Lutheran Church.
He beseeched his church’s faithfuls to pray hard while playing their part to overcome evil acts among youths, especially boys, who are trapped into laziness, fornication, alcoholism and homosexuality.