Bloggers in Tanzania have two weeks to register their platforms, including payment of the hefty $900 licence fee under the new Online Content Regulations 2018.
The regulations that were passed in March have raised fears that government is cracking down on internet users.
“All online content providers are required to complete the application process before 5 May 2018,” the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said in a statement.
The Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations 2018 make it mandatory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as Youtube TV channels to register with the government and submit to strict regulation.
The process that was opened on Saturday requires applicants to provide details of shareholders, share capital, owners’ citizenship, staff qualification and training programs, and a tax clearance certificate.
Digital activists said the move was part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015.
Bloggers who fail to comply with the new rules could be fined at least 5 million shillings ($2,200), jailed for a minimum 12 months, or both.
Most bloggers in Tanzania are individuals, without registered companies, and will likely struggle to meet the requirements.
The number of internet users in Tanzania rose 16 percent in 2017 to 23 million, around 44 percent of the population, with most using their smartphones to go online.