Home affairs backs down on porn law - TechCentral

Home affairs backs down on porn law

The department of home affairs has backed away from its plan to fast-track legislation that could have forced Internet service providers to implement a blanket ban on online pornography.

The department met on Thursday morning with the Film and Publications Board, the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa), the department of communications, the Independent Communications Authority of SA and the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (Waspa), in an attempt to find middle ground with regards to protecting children from Internet-based pornography.

The meeting follows controversial debate around a document published by the Justice Alliance of SA, which the alliance promoted as a draft bill banning online porn.

The document was not adopted by home affairs. However, in July deputy minister Malusi Gigaba said he would fast-track legislation to ban porn on SA computer screens.

Many in industry were concerned that the document drafted by the Justice Alliance would be used as a basis for the proposed legislation. The document proposed harsh penalties for Internet service providers that carried porn on their networks.

However, Dominic Cull, Ispa regulatory advisor and owner of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, says Gigaba agreed at Thursday’s meeting that legislative action to prevent online pornography should be a last resort for the department.

Cull says Ispa, Waspa and government authorities will begin looking at other ways to protect children from porn on the Internet.

“We all agreed there is a problem with children accessing unsavoury content, but we discussed other approaches of dealing with the matter,” he says.

Cull says education and marketing was suggested as one possible approach. Providers could also implement voluntary filtering on certain websites if they wanted to.

All the representatives at the meeting decided to put together task teams to investigate alternatives to a blanket ban on Internet porn, Cull says.

He says Ispa has welcomed the approach the department and the Film and Publications Board have taken. “It is now a consultative process.”

The news will come as a relief to Internet service providers concerned that they would have had to find money for costly technologies to block content on their networks.  — Candice Jones, TechCentral

10 Comments

  1. Viewing of porn or any other material is not something which should be left to government. This should start at home and it’s the parents responsibility for what the children view on the net, not the government! If they decide what children can view, they can decide what the adults can view as well, and that is not on!

  2. The_Librarian on

    “voluntary porn filtering….”

    Sounds good, count me in. As long as it’s voluntary then it’s fine.

    Another alternative is to use Smoothwall and URL Filter or Dansguardian to block unsavoury content without having to do anything.

  3. It irks me that governments conflate the issues of adults looking at child porn and children looking at adult porn.

    Children are abused in the production of child porn which is a human rights violation and is reprehensible. The producers of this material are the real criminals and should rot in jail. The consumers of this material are obviously morally corrupt, but they themselves aren’t directly participating in the abuse. One could argue that they create a market for it, but as with “The War on Drugs” you have to go after the producers, not the consumers.

    Children who look at pornography produced by consenting adults might get confusing ideas about sex, which in rare cases might lead to sexually deviant behaviour, but on the whole what is so wrong about sex? It is a part of life. Censors would rather a child see someone’s head being blown off on television than them see a boob or penis.

    Governments are very quick to jump on this issue because it gives them free reign to control the content that citizens can view. It is not a very big jump from censoring morally objectionable content to politically objectionable content. Once the legal framework is in place, little refinements to the laws are far too easy to make. As someone on another forum said, the only reason we have Internet access in South Africa is because it snuck in during the transition period. If it had arrived sooner, the Nats would have blocked it, later and the ANC would have blocked it. The looks like it’s trying to play catch up now.

    People seem to forget that the government ranks are filled with normal people like themselves. What gives them the authority or superior ability to decide how other people should live their lives and raise their children? This bill when viewed in context with all the other “thought police” bills the ANC is proposing seems to be less about “thinking about the children” and more about controlling the masses.

  4. One last thing…

    The noise that the ISPs were making all had to do with the prohibitive financial costs involved. None of them seemed to particularly care about the huge cost to our liberty.

    And a typo from my previous comment should read: “The ANC looks like it’s trying to play catch up now.”

  5. Forget about banning porn how’s this ban WWE wrestling it is so fake it hurts my eyes if watching it fake old plastic old men slapping each other over a plastic belt government should harass ETV

  6. @JohnsonZA I’m not sure about that comment that the internet “snuck” into ZA … in the late 80’s, government subsidized universities were using government owned (telkom) lines to bring it in and make it available to students. In the late 80’s, when I got into the whole scene, BBSes were using FIDOnet and Usenet to facilitate international messaging, which was mainly what internet was about back then. It would have been easy to nip in the bud if they had wanted to do it.

    And it’s not like they weren’t watching – in the early 90’s, they were arresting people for porn GIF files on BBSes. I know of one poor chap who was sent to Boys Town for it.

  7. banishing porn on the net will take this country back to donkey years. we have the right to decide what to watch on the net. & it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that we protect our children from viewing porn without government involvement.

  8. Wholly agree with @gareth. The government needs to tread carefully when dealing with moral issues. E-TV, on the other hand, broadcasts blatant porn adverts after 11pm ostensibly because of a watershed timeslot agreement. If kids can upload porn onto their cellphones via these “service providers”, is the govt. going to shut down E-TV? I think not. Do we have shades of the thought police infiltrating our homes?
    Accessing websites is a personal choice. By exercising freedom of choice I have no interest in watching soapies. I don’t access porn by choice. Tell a child not to do something & you’ll find out quickly enough that your kids are doing what you did as a teenager, disobeying your instructions. You have to educate your offspring and lead by example.
    A taxi is involved in a fatal accident, because of stupidity. Fourteen people are killed. Investigations reveal that the taxi was powered by Engen fuel. Will ‘Sbu Ndebele then ban the sale of Engen fuel because it’s killing our people? It’s the same kind of a lack of lateral thinking.

  9. Seriously? Who cares?

    When I was a kid I looked at plenty of porn. It was hairy and in black & white but it did the job. Why are we so obsessed about what our kids might see online? Teach them to cope with it – don’t pretend they won’t see it. That will never happen, under this government or any other.