Internet Shutdown in Africa| The Slow Shutdown: Information and Internet Regulation in Tanzania From 2010 to 2018 and Impacts on Online Content Creators

Lisa Parks, Rachel Thompson


A slow shutdown is an ensemble of flexible state regulations implemented over time that have the effect of prohibiting, interrupting, or making too costly online content creation. A slow shutdown differs from a technical shutdown in which a state authority blocks access to the Internet or platforms within its sovereign boundaries, usually for a short period. This article conceptualizes and delineates a slow shutdown in Tanzania. Using the method of process tracing, the article describes the Tanzania government’s adoption of a series of repressive information and Internet regulations from 2010 to 2018 and analyzes its controversial 2018 online content regulations, which led many Tanzanians to cease expressive activities on the Internet. Drawing on Tanzanian policy documents, English-language national and international press coverage, nongovernmental organization reports, and Tanzanian blogs and websites, the study highlights the social impacts of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party-led government’s laws. It also extends research on media control and networked authoritarianism by demonstrating the variable forms, temporalities, and affects of Internet shutdowns and considering their relation to gender and class differences.


Tanzania, online content creators, Internet regulation, Internet shutdown, networked authoritarianism

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