AfriForum submits comments on draft regulations regarding Internet Censorship Act
17 August 2020
The civil rights organisation AfriForum today submitted comments on the proposed Draft Films and Publications Amendment Regulations, 2020, also referred to as the Internet Censorship Act. On 3 July 2020 Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, published the new draft Films and Publications Amendment Regulations in the Government Gazette for public comment. AfriForum’s commentary entailed preliminary comments concerning vague provisions in the Draft Regulations, as well as comments relating to the constitutionality of the Draft Regulations.
AfriForum believes the amendments do not suffice for eliminating the risk for abuse contained in the Act.
“The Amendment Act read together with the Draft Regulations makes the Film and Publications Board (FPB) the arbiter of what is and what is not to be considered protected speech. The FPB is a government entity that reports to the Minister of Communications. This means that these Regulations, read together with the Amendment Act, will give the government more control over speech and information. This is a dangerous prospect when one considers the plethora of cases (past and present) of government’s abusing legislation that regulates speech to promote their own agenda and tighten their grip on power,” says Ernst van Zyl, Campaign Officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum.
“In its current form, the Draft Regulations are vague, unenforceable, impractical, prone to abuse, in the sense that the regulations open the door for abuse in regard to the government’s power to control speech and the flow of information, and the Draft Regulations are also unconstitutional,” van Zyl concluded.
Issued by Carina Bester, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 17 August 2020