[IRPCoalition] South Africa FPB’s Draft Online Regulations Policy Public Hearing

Anriette Esterhuysen anriette at apc.org
Wed May 27 22:54:28 EEST 2015

Dear all

Attached is an invitation to a public meeting convened by local groups
and APC on proposed online content regulation in South Africa.

Rigth2Know Campaign has a petition on these draft regulations and you
can read more about regulations the on APC.org here and copied below:


The purpose of the regulation is so-called child safety, but the
regulations are much broader in scope and actually impossible to comply

One positive outcome of this has been the mobilisation of local civil
society - it has been really fantastic. Right2Know has a petition out,
but  many others - not only those listed in the invite attached are
taking action. Particular credit should go to the SOS coalition which is
the local 'Save our public broadcaster' coalition and the Freedom of
Expression Institute who have worked with us on organising local meetings.

We are pursuing a dual strategy with civil society having a coordinated
campaign, as well as making individual submissions on the draft
regulation, but we are also writing a joint statement with internet
service providers and local and international internet and telecoms
companies and small/medium internet content businesses who will all be
affected by this. We are also calling on people who work on children's
rights to oppose these regulations as we don't believe they will achieve
the stated objective of online child safety.

Your support would be valued - the Rigth2Know petition is here:


APC joins South African civil society groups in opposing internet
content regulation proposed by South Africa's Film and Publication Board

If implemented, the Draft Online Regulation Policy proposed by the South
African Film and Publication Board (FPB) would, under the guise of child
protection, pose serious threats to online freedom of expression. It
would involve policing content published on the internet – including
blogs, personal websites and Facebook pages. APC joins the many South
African civil society and broader communications sector voices that are
expressing their concern about the proposed regulations.

Under the Draft Online Regulation Policy, the Film and Publication Board
would have the power to "refer any self-generated video that is found to
contain classifiable elements for classification to its classification
committee, instruct the distributor to take down the unclassified
content and only reinstate it after having complied with the FPB
classification decision." This is tantamount to giving the Film and
Publication Board the power to effectively censor any Facebook post,
Twitter “tweet”, YouTube video, or any other user-generated internet
content created by any South African. Aside from the fact that this
power would be open to abuse – for example, for censoring political
speech, or censoring content created for the purpose of sex education or
promoting the interests of LGBT groups – it would be impossible to
ensure compliance with the policy. It would place additional burdens on
all internet users and intermediaries (companies and organisations that
host internet content), particularly small and medium enterprises.
At a sector meeting convened by the Association for Progressive
Communications (APC), the SOS Coalition, the Right2Know (R2K) Campaign
and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) on Friday 22 May in
Johannesburg, there was consensus that the draft regulation policy must
be scrapped. The participating civil society groups, media
organisations, library associations and internet and telecommunications
industry associations all agreed that the proposed regulations pose a
serious threat not just to online freedom of expression and association,
but also to local internet-based innovation, content development and job

Child safety, one of the primary objectives of the proposed regulations,
is very important. However, there are other more effective strategies
and mechanisms to ensure the protection of children in the online
environment that do not require pre-publication censorship.

The internet can be a powerful tool in protecting children from harm.
Should the proposed draft regulations be adopted, we would be creating
an internet which children cannot fully utilise to protect themselves
from harm, both online and offline. The question of values in the draft
regulations is particularly problematic. We must be careful that the
values used in imposing internet control in children's so-called best
interests do not end up fundamentally depriving children of all sorts of
rights that should be available to them.

Children have, for example, the right to information: this includes
information about relationships, sexual orientation, safe sex, sexual
abuse, and a whole range of topics involving sex. Content that may be
useful to children dealing with sexual orientation, the challenges of
puberty, love, longing and abuse could easily become the target of the

Join us in rejecting these regulations by supporting the Right2Know
petition at www.r2k.org.za/HandsOffOurInternet! and by submitting your
own comments to the FPB. Submissions should be emailed to
policy.submissions at fpb.org.za or hand delivered to the FPB head office
at ECO Glade 2, 420 Witch Hazel Street, ECO Park, Centurion, 0169 and
marked for attention Ms. Tholoana Ncheke.
The next public meeting convened by APC, R2K, SOS and FXI will take
place on 28 May at Civicus House in Newtown at 13h30. After the meeting,
participants will move on to the public consultation convened by the
Film and Publication Board:

Venue: Turbine Hall Newtown, 65 Ntemi Piliso Street, Johannesburg
Date: 28 May 2015
Time: 17h00-19h00
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