Bill to tighten online content regulation
Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi together with the Film Publications Board, an entity of the Department of Communications, will present the Films and Publications Amendment Bill before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications on Tuesday .
The Bill, which was introduced to the National Assembly by Minster Muthambi in November last year, does not create a new regulatory regime but seeks to strengthen the law by closing the gaps identified in the Films and Publications Act in relation to online content regulation.
There is an emergence and avalanche of explicitly sexual and violent content brought in by the new media push and cyberspace that has no physical boarders; some of the same content is delivered through traditional distribution platform.
“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 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," said Muthambi.
“As government we are looking at how we can work with Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the industry to come up with the best regulatory framework..
"The Department of Communications is not seeking to control the internet, but safeguard minors and vulnerable persons in the best way possible," Muthambi concluded.
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 for the proposed amendments are as follows:
To align the definition of child pornography to the definition in terms of the Constitutional Court Judgement in the case of De Reuck v DPP 2004(1) SA 406 (CC);
To align the definition sexual conduct to the definition in terms of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007;
To give effect to the constitutional amendments of section 16(2)(a) as instructed by the Constitutional Court in PMSA v Minister of Home Affairs and another (CCT 113/11);
To decriminalise the online distribution of adult content and allow for regulations by the Film and Publication Board (FPB);
To strengthen regulations on distribution of adult content on all platforms including digital platforms;
To provide for the establishment of a co-regulation system that will allow for accreditation by the FPB of independent classification bodies which will classify their own digital films, games and publications; and
To provide for an effective penalty regime in support of the co-regulation approach, amongst others.