On 2 October 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Films and Publications Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) into law. The Bill has attracted controversy, being dubbed the “Internet Censorship Bill”. The Films and Publication Board (“the Board”), a statutory body established by the Films and Publication Act, 1996, has as its main objective, among others, to regulate the creation, possession, production and distribution of films, games and certain publications with a view to protect children from disturbing and harmful content. The memorandum published with the Bill indicates that while the Board has predominantly focussed its classification and monitoring activities on physical platforms it has become apparent that more attention must be paid to digital platforms and social media. In particular, the memorandum provides that "the increasing demands for online content and technological advances require the Board to extend its focus to the regulation of content on these diverse platforms. In this regard it is necessary for the applicable legislation, policies and procedures to reflect these demands and technological advances." The Amendment Bill aims to introduce a number of changes, including harsher rules to protect children from disturbing and harmful content, and to regulate the online distribution of content such as films and games. It has been reported that some other notable changes include provisions dealing with revenge porn, hate speech and certain Internet Service Provider requirements.

Keep an eye out for our next telecoms and media in brief where we will consider some of the changes in depth. If you do not already receive this newsletter you may subscribe to it by opting in on the “contact us” page on the ENSafrica website.

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