Internet Bounty Hunters…South Africa looks to its film censors to wander the internet looking for things to ban and to invoice their victims for censorship ‘services’

Posted: 22 March, 2015 in Internet, world
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Read more Africa Censorship News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

south africa film censor logo South Africa’s Film and Publications Board (FPB) is expecting to be granted the power to order an administrator of any online platform to take down any content that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing to children of certain ages. The censors have generated a 14-page set of draft rules for online content that would, in theory, have given it the power to order Wikipedia et al to remove images, and then send them an invoice for the cost of doing so.

For Video on Demand services, the board has proposed co-cesnorship, which will allow each streaming provider to classify its own content with an in-house team of people after they are trained, for no more than five days, by the FPB.

By June 2016, everything such streaming providers make available to South African audiences must be rated. That may prove a challenge for in-house teams too, so the FPB draft regulations make another concession — content classified under another system can be deemed classified by the FPB, if the regimes are sufficiently similar. In practice, a 13 (language) or 16 (nudity) classification imposed by regulators in the US or Europe will be accepted for South African use.

The censors look set to become very nasty about what the board describes as self-generated content. This, the draft rules say, could include a drawing, picture, illustration or painting; recording or any other message or communication, including a visual presentation, placed on any distribution network including, but not confined to, the internet .

Streaming services will be responsible for their own classification expenses, and those who distribute self-generated content can expect an invoice from the FPB once it has decided to classify such content of its own accord. So it appears that finding harmful content is the driver behind an expected eight-fold increase in the money the FPB says it will need to police the online space.

This week the department of communications, under which the FPB falls, published its budget forecasts. In the last financial year, the budget shows, the FPB spent under R1-million for online and mobile content regulation . By 2016 that is expected to increase to R8.2-million.

The department of state security is expected to release, within weeks, a first draft of the Cybercrimes and Related Matters Bill. That law is being drafted behind closed doors, but is understood to be a clear victory for the state security department over the department of telecommunications and the department of communications.

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