FPB Bill not seeking to gag internet in SA

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pretoria - Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, has reiterated that the Film and Publications Board Amendment Bill is not seeking to censor internet in the country.

“We need to make it clear to South Africans that this Bill is not aimed at gagging the internet in South Africa. The Department of Communications is not seeking to control the internet, but safeguard minors and vulnerable persons in the best way possible,” she said.

Minister Muthambi will present the draft piece of legislation to the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on Tuesday.

The Bill, which seeks to strengthen the law by closing the gaps identified in the Film and Publications Act with regard to online content, was introduced in the National Assembly by Minister Muthambi in November last year. 

She said there was an avalanche of explicit and violent content being distributed through new media platforms and cyberspace that has no physical borders - although some of the same content is delivered through traditional platforms.

“We are witnessing a failure of self-regulation in certain sectors of the industry. Also, state regulation has its limitations within the industry.

“Therefore, a much more coordinated co-regulation model that provides for the involvement of industry and the government is required. Such a model will need to have clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountability levels.”

Minister Muthambi said government was looking at how it can work with Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the industry to come up with the best regulatory framework.

According to data from the Classification Guidelines Review process, most parents surveyed seem to be of the view that the state had an obligation to protect their children from exposure to harmful content.  

The objectives of the Bill are further to:

-          align the definition sexual conduct to the definition in terms of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007;

-          decriminalise the online distribution of adult content and allow for regulations by the Film and Publication Board (FPB);

-          strengthen regulations on distribution of adult content on all platforms including digital platforms;

-          provide for the establishment of a co-regulation system that will allow for accreditation by the Film and Publications Board (FPB) of independent classification bodies which will classify their own digital films, games and publications; and

-          provide for an effective penalty regime in support of the co-regulation approach. -SAnews.gov.za