Internet bill an ‘onslaught’ against free speech

2015-08-20 13:53
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(Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - A Fin24 user has questioned government’s real intentions behind pushing a controversial online regulation bill through cabinet.

On Monday, Fin24 reported that Cabinet has approved the submission of the films and publications amendment bill which seeks to adjust the law to technological changes such as online and social media platforms.

READ: Online censorship bill enters next phase

While a draft online regulation policy - which is set to inform the amendment bill - seeks to limit children’s exposure to harmful content, the policy has been criticised for calling on all internet content - including Facebook and YouTube posts - to be classified.

This has raised concerns of possible wider scale internet censorship against content that may offend the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government.

READ: Mixed reaction to online censorship bill

Parliament's portfolio committee on communications still needs to discuss the bill and possibly amend it. But in the meantime, there are fears that age of freedom of expression online in South Africa could be coming to an end.

One Fin24 user David has written up his concerns in a letter to Fin24. You can read it here.

Dear Editor

Referring to your article "Online censorship bill enters next phase",I would like to add the following content.

While this may be presented in the guise as "protect our children", I am doubting the sincerity of that.

What protects our children if they use other means to access the web from harmful content? How is this going to be enforced? This seems another impractical burbling from an uneducated fool, that has no idea how complicated the internet is.

It does appear, however, as an onslaught on our freedom of speech.

If the concern is that children are using smartphones to access harmful content, then police children's access to smartphones. It's also easier to educate parents on the dangers of the internet whom, in turn, informs their children about it.

If the concern is access to inappropriate content from school servers, use a decent access system with no option to bypass with a proxy. If someone is smart enough to bypass a firewall, in any case, there is probably little one can do to prevent them from access to inappropriate content.

If this is a guise to silence the people from posting "Nkandla Style", "The Spear", "Macia videos" etc, then they are in for big surprise, as there are platforms such as Wikileaks, complete with untraceable methods of getting the information out, from where the information will get out to the world.

Attempting to suppress information has the "Streisand effect", that fuels and multiplies the distribution of such news at rates, order faster than it would have if it was just let to be.

Regards

David

Disclaimer: All letters and comments published in Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

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