ISPs could lose licences over porn - TechCentral

ISPs could lose licences over porn

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Mobile operators and Internet service providers could have their licences revoked by communications regulator Icasa if they fail to comply with new legislation being developed to govern online censorship in South Africa.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the cabinet said it had approved the submission of the Films and Publications Amendment Bill to parliament. The amendments to the Films and Publications Act of 1996 provide for “technological advances, especially online and social media platforms, in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing and harmful media content in all platforms, physical and online”, the cabinet said in the statement following its regular fortnightly meeting.

Of particular concern to ISPs and telecommunications providers will be the cabinet’s declaration that the companies must “protect the public and children during usage of their services” and Icasa “will not issue licences or renewals without confirmation from the Film and Publication Board (FPB) of full compliance with its legislation”.

Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis said last month that the online regulation policy proposed by government will require all individuals and organisations who upload digital content to first register with the FPB, pay a fee prescribed by the minister of communications, and either submit the content to the board for classification or self-classify in accordance with the board’s classification guidelines.

Anyone who does not comply with the policy is liable to pay a fine or face a prison term of up to six months, Davis said.

He said legitimate concerns over the draft policy include the following:

— According to clause 7.4 of the policy, the FPB has the power to have any content deemed “potentially harmful and disturbing to children” taken down. When read with the Films & Publications Act, the policy will empower the board to ban (by way of an “XX” classification) any online content that is “degrading” or “promotes harmful behaviour”. The broadness of these terms gives the government significant latitude to proscribe content that does not fit in with the governing party’s political agenda and worldview.

— The policy appears to apply to any person who uploads online content, be it via Facebook, Instagram, a blog, or any other online platform. This opens the door for the state to impinge on citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of expression and to impart information.

— The policy will place an unnecessary administrative and financial burden on individuals and organisations who upload content. They will be required to pay a registration fee, appoint staff as classifiers and be forced to delay the publication of content until the pre-classification is complete.

— Many individuals and organisations will simply not comply with such onerous requirements, and there is no way that the FPB will be able to monitor and police all content uploaded. For example, it is estimated that 320 hours of content is uploaded on to YouTube every minute.

“The FPB’s stated intention for drafting this policy is to protect children from exposure to harmful online content. This is a noble objective, and one that the Democratic Alliance supports. But it is highly unlikely that the draft policy will achieve this goal. It is simply too impractical and costly to implement and police,” Davis said.

“On the other hand, there is every possibility that the online regulation policy could be used selectively to censor particular online content that the governing party does not like or runs counter to its political objectives.”

On 14 July, it was announced that there had been agreement in principle to defer the regulation of online press content to the Press Council of South Africa.

In a joint statement from the Interactive Advertising Bureau of South Africa, the South African National Editors’ Forum and Press Council, the organisations said that the FPB endorsed the revised press code which would regulate online press content in South Africa.  — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media

  • Joe Black

    The terms used are way to broad. They are setting us up for a witch hunt.

  • Simon

    The easy way is to have a “nanny” filter enabled by default by the ISP. I think they do this in the UK already. You then opt-in to have the filter removed.

  • The Spark

    Peer to peer?

  • Johan Snyman

    Hierdie gaan ‘n onbegonne taak wees was ons as klien ISP nie sal kan doen nie.

  • David

    Is it not the duty of parents to police the content their children are exposed to, it is not the fault of parents that take the time to learn and research what can be done to protect their children on the Internet, I don’t believe the Internet should be censored in anyway, it is the responsibility of people to take care, the Internet does not down load to people, people download from the Internet!
    And yes I do have a child.

  • Anakin StealthVader

    Foremost It’s the duty of the parents to ensure that their kids cannot access harmful content, either on their tablets iPhones pc’s or laptops.

    Do parents leave the keys in their cars so kids can just get in and joyride anywhere? It’s not the car manufacturer’s fault or the dealership’s fault if the parents are irresponsible.

    The FPB seem to be doing this for other reasons such as uploading content. Their motivation seems to be obscure and bizarre:

    If I upload a video (for eg. non-pornographic material) such as a Youtube clip, why should I first have to consult the FPB? If the material has copyright on it ok, but else what’s the point? To charge fees and ‘look bizzy’ all the time protecting No.1 and company from looking stupid?

    What about content that is already out there? It’s the parents’ responsibility and there are software programs such as Netnanny, Cyberpatrol and many others that can stop under 18’s from accessing pornographic material.

    The entire exercise seems to be a waste of both time and money.

  • Amaryllis

    @Comments: Is it correct to assume that parents always act in the best interests of their children or are present enough to be able to monitor them properly? I’m glad the commenters here are in a financial position to parent hands-on. Most parents don’t have this luxury. Some parents abuse their children sexually. The government DOES need to protect children and humans. Most crimes that occur, occur because people don’t act the way that they should. The proposed policy is not ideal, but temper your analysis with some common sense.

  • William Stucke

    Good grief! Yet another example of the idiocy of SA legislators thinking that The Internet (Capital letters, because there is only one) is subject to local South African laws.
    I remember, way back in 2001, when Bretton had had enough of the fools in parliament. He had a T-shirt printed. On the front, a blindfolded judge was saying “The Internet SHALL obey the law”. On the back it said RTFM.
    ‘Nuff said.

  • William Stucke

    Good luck, FPB. Not only does YouTube have 1 billion users, it has 1,000,000 channels. How many jobs for cadres does the FPB expect to create monitoring that?

  • Andrew Fraser

    Common sense dictates that the FPB is over-reaching. There are existing laws that give sufficient oversight of content. The FPB’s proposals are concerning because they are, apart from being practically unenforceable, seeming to be a cover for more robust censorship of free political expression.

  • Wayne Gemmell

    Will we all have to ‘friend’ the FPB?

  • Magic Mushroom

    “The entire exercise seems to be a waste of both time and money”. Two things government are really good at doing. They are just trying to protect their image at any cost, the less their people know about their corruption the better….. SA will be just another African run down country soon with these clowns running the show….

  • The more you rely on government to babysit the electorate’s kids the more they too will be treated like children. If you had the luxury of having kids then don’t evade the parenting hands-on element. That’s like buying a car and then expecting government to pay for maintenance, licencing and running costs. Some parents abuse their kids. So we must all pay the price?

  • Chris

    And we thought that the NP doesn’t rule SA anymore. Same as the old apartheid government, one and the same NP =cANCer!

  • Chris

    Then you must allow the government to punish your child in school as well seeing that you are a parent that cant be hands-in.

  • tongue in cheek

    the only thing this govt protects is #1, and even he diddles with a friends daughter(even if she is not under 18)

  • Dennis Delport

    Black SA parents have lost control of their children and have no clue what they are up to. I have been involved with Porn from 1976 to 2005 and with submissions to the old Publication board. I also advised directors of a “Sex Shop” how to launch their business.
    Society should take extreme strong PROTEST action to have this FPB ACT 1996 internet section withdrawn. It is more suppressive than any law in the “apartheid” days.
    Our socialistic communistic government is using outdated tactics embedded in a communistic doctrine to suppress information. Tax payers money is going down the drain. How many personal have to be employed. How many computers are available?
    How do FPB committee members view the material. Will there be a 24/7 service.
    Is their a control system and backup of all submitted material.? If viewing material for ” A” has been approved why must “B” also pay a fee for approval. The most stupid thing is children can be jailed for viewing porn content. It is a parent responsibility to block. Money should be spent to teach children religion, responsibility, respect for each other and understanding the principals of LOVE. These are the building blocks of LIfe.

  • dominic

    ISP licence???? what is that…..