Cabinet passes Internet censorship bill

A draft policy drawn up by the South African Film and Publication Board (FPB) is expected to inform the bill.

The bill is aimed at preventing children from viewing harmful content on the Internet, according to the cabinet.

Reports reveal that South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the submission of the films and publications amendment bill despite public outcry that the document is guided by policy seeking to curb internet freedom. The cabinet said the bill seeks to amend the films and publications act of 1996 by adapting it to the technological advances of todays’ world.

These changes include making provisions for online and social media platforms with an aim to protect children from being exposed to harmful media content on all platforms (physical and online). A draft policy drawn up by the South African Film and Publication Board (FPB) is expected to inform the bill.

IT News Africa reports that topics covered in the draft policy include preventing children from viewing, for example, pornography online. Hate speech and racist content is also covered by the draft online policy. According to the FPB, the bill strengthens the responsibilities imposed on mobile networks and internet service providers to protect the public and children making use of their services.

The report also says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has said it will not issue licenses or renewals without confirmation from the Film and Publication Board of full compliance with the legislation.

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