Rights activists want law on privacy in communications

29Jul 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Rights activists want law on privacy in communications

THE Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) has recommended the enactment of a law to protect privacy of citizens in communication whereby only courts of law can authorize revelation of personal conversation.

THRDC coordinator Onesmo Ole Ngurumwa.

Speaking at a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, THRDC coordinator Onesmo Ole Ngurumwa called upon the government to enact a Data Protection and Privacy Act which will go in line with international conventions which grant rights for privacy in communications.

“The government should continue to respect and uphold the rights of the people on communication until the law on privacy is formulated to ensure that people keep communicating without fear,” he said.

Ole Ngurumwa also called for review of various laws to give clear meaning of ‘public interest’ and make Tanzanians easily communicate with the communications mechanism being subject to laws upholding human dignity.

THRDC also asked the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) through the consumer protective committee to ensure that it performs its duty by protecting the privacy of clients as well as take legal actions against service providers who leak the communication content and thus abuse the privacy of their clients.

“For those whose rights have been violated, we urge them to open cases at any court of law suing service providers who leaked private communication without due authority of a court of law,” he said.

Ole Ngurumwa cited the Constitution at Article 16(1), saying “Every person is entitled to respect and protection of his person, the privacy of his own person, his family and of his matrimonial life, and respect and protection of his residence and private communications.”

The statement by the coalition comes in the wake of an alleged leaked communication   between retired senior officials of the ruling party which went viral on social media.

The conversation was followed by another leaked voice note allegedly belonging to a former minister reportedly plotting plans to impede President John Magufuli from securing his second term in the general elections next year.

In his comments on the matter recently, TCRA Executive Director James Kilaba told a local newspaper that the institution has no ability to wade into people’s private conversations.

Kilaba however said it was easy for anyone to formulate and disperse such voice notes and if anything the matter is left in the hands of the police, who deal with crime.

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