Porn bill is out of touch

26 September 2016 - 08:52 By BIANCA CAPAZORIO
A member of the pro lobby says research shows viewing porn can improve people's sex lives and knowledge about sex.
A member of the pro lobby says research shows viewing porn can improve people's sex lives and knowledge about sex.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A Bill aimed at criminalising revenge porn has been criticised as unconstitutional and limiting freedom of expression.

Parliament's portfolio committee on communication heard submissions last week on the proposed Film and Publications Bill, which is intended to regulate online content and counter revenge porn.

The DA's Phumzile van Damme says parts of the bill do well to tighten definitions of child porn and outlaw revenge porn, but the rest of it should be thrown out.

"In its current form, it gives government wide-sweeping powers to censor content on the internet; is unworkable, unaffordable, vague and contains several unconstitutional provisions," she said.

Submissions on the bill focus on these problem areas:

  • Right2Know campaign and the National Association of Broadcasters say definitions are vague, such as of a digital film which is so broad it would include any user-generated content uploaded to the internet. Everyday social media users would have to register as film distributors and pay a fee.

The Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa points out that in one minute 2.78million videos are watched on YouTube globally, over 38000 Instagram images and videos are uploaded and more than a million short videos are watched on Vine, making user-generated content incredibly difficult to regulate and monitor.

  • Right2Know says: "The requirement to register with the Film and Publication Board and to preclassify (demanding that publishers first withhold content to ensure it meets the Board's standards) is a form of censorship. It restrains the free flow of information and violates free expression and the right to both impart and receive information. These are constitutionally enshrined rights."
  • All providers of X-rated adult content are required to keep a register of names, addresses and verifiable ages of those accessing it. "This information could easily fall into the wrong hands, and adults should have the right to remain anonymous when it comes to legitimate sexual expression. In other countries on the continent we have seen people 'outed' and persecuted for their sexuality and in South Africa there is a great deal of homophobic and anti-LGBTI sentiment," Right2Know said.
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