Sunday, May 30, 2010

South Africa - Draft regulations to ban Internet and mobile phone pornography has been given to the Law Reform Commission

[business day] Regulations aimed at banning pornography on the Internet and mobile phones is to be handed over to the Law Reform Commission by deputy minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba , together with other recommendations aimed at preventing access to pornography.

Gigaba, who approached the commission in September to look into banning pornography on television, the internet and mobile phones, yesterday accepted recommendations from the Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa) on a proposed Internet and Cellphone Pornography Bill which sees pornography filtered out at service provider level.

The statement from the department says the ban on porn on these mediums has successfully been achieved in the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, while Australia and New Zealand are presently considering similar action.

The Department of Home Affairs has an oversight role over the Film and Publication Board and Gigaba has long expressed his concern about the link between pornography and child and women abuse. In December last year at a workshop for political leaders in the Eastern Cape, Gigaba lashed out at advertiser and media exploiting sex and exposing children to it and television for brining it into the home. He was also critical of cellphone providers for "providing easy access" for children to pornography.

The argument is that the Film and Publication Act, which provides a ban on child pornography, while the Internet and Cellphone Bill will provide for a total ban of pornography on these electronic channels, using the wider definition of pornography already available in the Sexual Offences Act.

John Smyth director of Jasa said the recommendations are in line with the Constitution and there is sufficient technical knowledge for service providers to implement controls.

"There are sufficient decisions in the Constitutional Court when it comes to the issue of pornography and children, that the rights of children trumps the right to freedom and privacy," he said. "The constitution recognises that parents have an obligation to protect their children and where they fail its becomes the state's obligation."

Arthur Goldstuck, head of World Wide Worx and internet and cellphone expert, yesterday questioned whether it was simply a case of applying technology. "The requirements of filtering out any specific type of communication are massive," he said. "Its only technically and practically feasible in a totalitarian environment where the State has all the control over telecommunications."

William Bird of Media Monitoring Africa, which looks in particular at children's representation in media, was also critical of the proposal, saying while the intentions were sound it would be a step backwards. It also did not take into account peer to peer transmission of pornographic material via mediums such as Mixit, he said.

"It would be more beneficial to create space for a forum to discuss and engage with pornographic material critically and allow children to express why it makes them feel uncomfortable and what stereotypes are being depicted," he said.

He said Childline had a lot of success on Mixit by creating an open forum where children can talk.

Bird said China has spent millions trying to control the internet and not been successful.

The eight page submission by the Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa) outlining the Constitutionality of a total ban on pornography will be available on its website

South Africa: Digital Porn Regulations Published

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