The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has issued legal notices to internet access and service providers and internet service providers asking them to comply with the provisions of the Act.
The legal notices require ISPs to report on the measures they have taken to block child pornography and “other online harm” on their platforms and services.
The updated legal notice, published on Friday, 28 October 2022, requires ISPs to comply with the conditions listed below within 90 days of the calendar:
- Register with the FPB in accordance with the procedures established by the rules made under the Act;
- Provide a report to the FPB of all appropriate measures to prevent the use of their services for:
- Hosting or distributing children’s comic images and,
- Hosting or distributing information about war, threats of imminent violence, or incitement to hatred in a group context constitutes incitement to punish a person.
- Whether they have reported the presence – including information about the person holding, hosting or sharing, in any way involved – to a police officer of the African Police Service to the South (SAPS); a
- Reasonable steps were taken to preserve such evidence for purposes of investigation and prosecution by the authorities.
According to the Interim CEO of the FPB, Dr Mashilo Boloka, “This is an important step to protect children and members of the public from online harm in accordance with the objective of the Act, starting from 1 March 2022.”
This is an initial information gathering process to determine the ISP’s ability to combat harm and abuse. Since this is the first step, in cases where ISPs fail, they will have the opportunity to correct themselves within a set period of time, Boloka said.
“We really expect managers to be open and honest in their reporting. Based on the reports we receive, the FPB will decide whether to make this a mandatory quarterly reporting requirement.
“At the same time as this announcement, we will also analyze various co-operative business practices and work with regulators to ensure compliance with the amended Act and its regulations,” Boloka said.
The FPB said it plans to issue notices to other providers in due course to build a comprehensive picture of cyber security practices across the range of services within its regulatory jurisdiction.
ISPs that fail to comply with the notices within 90 days will be referred to the Enforcement Committee and may face heavy fines or imprisonment under the Act.
In September, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies announced the Films and Publications Act, 2022, which enforces South Africa’s online content laws. came into force in March of this year.
The laws, known as South Africa’s “Internet censorship laws,” give the Film and Publications Board (FPB) broad powers to classify and regulate all Internet content in the country. .
Under the legislation, the FPB has been relegated from being a classification body to a regulatory body for digital distribution projects in South Africa, with the powers to issue and renew licenses or certificates, which will be enforced distributors and impose fines in case of non-compliance.
There have been many criticisms of the rules, particularly the broad definition of ‘distributor’ of a film, game or published content, as well as the extensive inspection powers they give to the FPB for all published in South Africa.
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