Weather Service Act Amendment: Draconian Bill gives Weather Service a monopoly
South African citizens could face penalties of up to ten years in prison, or a R10 million fine, for issuing any information that may be construed as a "severe weather or pollution-related warning" without written permission from the Weather Service.
This amendment, among others, is contained in a Bill before Parliament that seeks to amend the South African Weather Service Act (see here - PDF).
The proposed Bill creates an offenses section for the first time, which also includes a prohibition on any person supplying false or misleading information about the Weather Service or who intentionally or negligently commits any act which detrimentally affects the organisation.
These proposed amendments are draconian, and an attempt by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, the sponsor of the Bill, to establish and protect an unfair monopoly on services offered by the Weather Service, some of which are commercial services.
Interestingly, the amendment Bill includes for the first time a limitation of liability whereby the Weather Service cannot be held liable for any damage, loss or injury caused by any act committed in good faith. So, while the Weather Service wants protection for performing the imperfect science of weather predicting, it wants to close down other entities that dabble in the same field.