EFF calls FPB's new Internet censorship law 'worst in Africa'

22 May 2015 - 13:21 By Times LIVE
Censored. File photo.
Censored. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has proclaimed the Film and Publication Board's (FPB) Draft Online Regulation Policy "Africa's worst new Internet censorship law".

"Only once in a while does an Internet censorship law or regulation come along that is so audacious in its scope, so misguided in its premises, and so poorly thought out in its execution, that you have to check your calendar to make sure April 1 hasn't come around again," Jeremy Malcolm, the foundation's senior global policy analyst, said in a statement.

Commenting on the degree to which the regulation focuses on sex as a motivator for the law, Malcolm stated, "It's as if the fabled prude Mrs. Grundy had been brought forward from the 18 century, stumbled across hustler.com on her first excursion online, and promptly cobbled together a law to shut the Internet down."

The new draft regulations, which can be read here, have been subject to criticism before.

Basically what they do is make it so that if you are distributing media in South Africa you need to register with the Film and Publication board as a distributor. You then need to have everything you put up online vetted by the censors.

If on the other hand you upload videos or even post to an international website, such as YouTube or Facebook, the FPB can at its own discretion review your content, and then force an online distributor to have it taken down if it doesn't like it as per rule 7.4.

"7.4 With regard to any other content distributed online, the Board shall have the power to order an administrator of any online platform to take down any content that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing to children of certain ages."

Worse, the online distributor could be an Internet Service Provider, which has no relationship with the actual website hosting the material and thus has no power to do anything about it.

When the new law was proposed, Sanef pointed out that the FPB were lying when they claimed to have consulted key stakeholders.

“Sanef wishes to place it on record that as a key industry player it was never consulted by the FPB in the development of this draft, despite claims by the FPB that “the FPB consulted extensively with industry, civil society and key stakeholders”,” Sanef said in a statement.

Details of where the FPB will be holding public consultations you can go here.

Note how in the line "We thank you for your patience and encourage you to continue to view and give input here" - the link is broken.

The Right 2 Know campaign is currently running a petition against the new regulations, which can be accessed on their website.