Industry associations call on FPB to withdraw Online Content Regulation Policy draft

Regulation & Policy

An alliance of civil society and industry associations has issued a firm call for the Film and Publications Board (‘the Board’) to withdraw its draft Online Content Regulation Policy, which was released for public comment on 4 March 2015. According to a press release issued by the group, the call for the withdrawal is based on the “unconstitutional, unlawful and unworkable nature of the draft, as well as the fact that it ignores several related Government processes.”

Sekoetlane Phamodi, coordinator at the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition explained, “We all accept the need to address the ease with which children are able to access pornography and other inappropriate content on the internet as well as the extension of current offline classification undertaken by the Board into the online environment. This is a critical debate already taking place within the South African Law Reform Commission and the ICT Policy Review Process.

“We do not, however, accept the appropriateness of this document as a starting point for this debate as it is premature and indicates a lack of understanding of the manner in which content is distributed online. The failure to define key terms or to provide workable definitions for others creates confusion in interpreting the scope of application of the document, but it appears that the Board wishes, effectively, to classify the internet.”

The allied organisations have called on the Board to withdraw the draft policy pending the finalisation of the SALRC process and future debate around the amendment or replacement of the Films and Publications Act.

The deadline for submissions on the draft policy is 8 July 2015.

Source: Screen Africa 5 May 2015