On 18th March 2018 the government of Tanzania passed Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018 (Online Content Regulations). The Regulations, among other things, imposed arbitrary and unjust restrictions on news and other information and content; introduced mandatory registration and licensing of online radio, online television and blogs and give powers to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to regulate online service providers; obliged content hosts, internet cafés and social media users to monitor online content; provided for criminal penalties to a person who contravened any provision thereof which was excessive and unjustifiable.

Tanzania, being a member to the newly established East African Community, is bound by the Treaty establishing the said Community. Member States of the Community, by virtue of Articles of Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the East African Community Treaty (The Treaty), are supposed to uphold the principle of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency and good governance. Center for Strategic Litigation (CSL) was of the view that the Online Content Regulations violate the principles enshrined in the provisions of Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty.

In a move to challenge the said violation of the Treaty by the Tanzanian government, CSL filed a Reference before the East African Court of Justice to vindicate the provisions of Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty. The Reference is still pending scheduling conference.

However, an important point to note here is that while the said Reference was still pending, on 19th July 2020, the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports passed the Electronic and Postal Communication (Online Content) Regulations of 2020, which repealed and replaced the Electronic and Postal Communication (Online Content) Regulation of 2018. The case was then withdrawn.