Lawyer concerned that ‘internet censorship bill’ may be used as a political tool – CapeTalk

Legal advisor Nicholas Hall argues that the controversial the Film and Publications Amendment Bill is highly problematic.

The piece of legislation, often referred to as the 'internet censorship bill, has been widely-criticised for being poorly drafted.

It gives the Film and Publications Board (FPB) power to regulate and censor all forms of online content.

A new draft of the Films and Publications Amendment Regulations was gazetted for public comment this week, according to MyBroadBand.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the bill into law in October last year, but it has not come into effect yet.

Hall, a lawyer who specialises in South African digital entertainment law, says the FPB could potentially use the bill as a political tool.

He says the bill dangerously provides the FPB with room for legislative overreach when it comes to all kinds of online content.

Hall warns that the government-controlled entity should not have the power to regulate certain user-generated content.

He cautions that the FPB has been used to fight political battles in the past.

Because of the way that the regulations have been drafted... it's reaching onto any content that is uploaded online.

So, if you wanted to upload a film to Facebook or if you made TikTok video, you would be a criminal if you did that under the law

Section 24a of the Act says it's a crime for any person who uploads a film (broadly defined as any sequence of images that when viewed together create motion) and distributed by any media, including the internet and social media, unless you are registered with the FPB as the distributer of that content.

If someone complains, the FPB can pull that content and require it to be classified... Until such time that it's been classified, it's not allowed.

Historically, the FPB has only really had a mandate to classify content that is physically distributed and that is broadcast as well, to an extent.

Public comments for the new Films and Publications Amendment Regulations are currently open until Monday 17 August.

Listen to the discussion on Today with Kieno Kammies:

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Lawyer concerned that 'internet censorship bill' may be used as a political tool - CapeTalk

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