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Internet censorship in Malawi


Internet censorship in Malawi

The government of Malawi does not systematically filter or block Internet content. However, the government has blocked access to news sites and social media in isolated incidents in efforts to quell protests.[1]

Internet access is limited by high cost and lack of infrastructure.[2] In July 2013, the government reinstated a 16.5% VAT tax on Internet services. Consequently, mobile phone Internet providers raised tariffs by 16-25 percent, and many internet cafes increased their rates from MWK 5 per minute to between MWK 15-20 per minute.[3]

There have been no reports of content removal and service providers are not held liable for content transmitted through their networks.[4] However, online journalists are periodically detained and prosecuted for articles posted on news websites. In November 2013, for example, Justice Mponda, a correspondent for the online publication Malawi Voice,was arrested for allegedly “intimidating the royal family” due to an investigative story he had written.[5]

Malawi law prohibits the publication or transmission of anything "that could be useful to the enemy", as well as religiously offensive and obscene material. Malawi participates in regional efforts to combat cybercrime: the East African Community (consisting of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) and the South African Development Community (consisting of Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) have both enacted plans to standardize cybercrime laws throughout their regions.[6] There is a Malawi Censorship Board, but its primary function is the review of books.[7]

According to International Telecommunications Union statistics for 2009, approximately 4.7 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet.[8] In August 2009 the Malawi Internet Service Providers' Association (MISPA) listed 35 licensed ISPs (21 OK or operational, 14 not operational).[9] The Malawi Internet Exchange (MIX) became operational in December 2008.[10]


  1. ^ "Malawi blocks social media networks to quell protests", IDG News Service, 22 July 2011, accessed 14 December 2014
  2. ^ "2010 Human Rights Report: Malawi", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 8 April 2011
  3. ^ "Internet VAT bites consumers", Biztech Africa, 24 July 2014, accessed 14 December 2014
  4. ^ "Freedom on the Net 2014 Report: Malawi", Freedom House, 4 December 2014, accessed 14 December 2014
  5. ^ "Malawi Voice editor Justice Mponda arrested for extortion", Nyasa Times, 1 November 2013, accessed 14 December 2014
  6. ^ "ONI Regional Overview: Sub-Saharan Africa", OpenNet Initiative, September 2009
  7. ^ Censorship of Historical Thought: A World Guide 1945-2000, Antoon De Baets, Greenwood Press, 2002, updated 2005, pp. 339-342
  8. ^ "Malawi country profile", International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 2009, accessed 31 May 2011
  9. ^ "List of Licensed ISPs in Malawi as of 10 August 2009", Malawi Internet Service Providers' Association (MISPA), accessed 31 May 2011
  10. ^ "Malawi Internet Exchange (MIX)", Malawi Internet Service Providers' Association (MISPA), accessed 31 May 2011
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