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Plans to classify online material

Written by Noluthando Mkhize

Sport, arts and culture

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) is calling on all South Africans to have their say in the recently launched draft Online Regulatory Policy.

The policy, which is driven by the increase in internet access among South Africans, aims to find ways to regulate content on the Internet. Since the launch, the FPB has held national public consultation road shows, which started in April 2015, to allow members of the public to give inputs on the policy. The draft policy will force internet service providers and content generators to take more responsibility to ensure cyber safety, and help in stopping racism, hate speech and child pornography online.

“The industry distribution methods have also shifted significantly to online platforms resulting in convergence of distribution platforms and in large volumes of content being accessible globally on a 24-hour-basis,” said Chief Operation Officer of the FPB Sipho Risiba when launching the policy recently.

The policy, developed according to Section 4A of the Films and Publications Act, Act 61 of 1996, as amended intends to create and enhance cooperation between the FPB and the industry to ensure uniform classification, labelling, and compliance monitoring of digitally distributed content. Over the years, the FPB has focused on classifying physical content rather than content in the online space. This has resulted in children being exposed to unclassified or harmful content accessed through the internet and other mobile platforms.

Risiba said there was a decline in physical distribution of content and that South Africa was shifting to online more and more.

The FPB is responsible for regulating the creation, possession, and distribution of content in the country, which includes the online space. The FPB also regulates games and films by means of classification, imposes age restrictions, gives consumer advice, and makes the use of children in and the exposure of children to pornography punishable.

The board will not use the policy to classify all content being distributed online, but will work with companies that feature in the online space to come up with a coregulation model.

The public consultation process will end on 8 July 2015.

How to get involved?
  • Read and understand the draft policy that is available on: www.fpb.org.za
  • Be part of public consultations taking place in your area. For more information on the public consultation contact 012 003 1400 or visit: www.fpb.org.za
  • Make your inputs and/or submissions via email to: policy.submissions@fpb.org.za or hand deliver to the FPB head office at ECO Glade 2, 420 Witch Hazel Street, ECO Park, Centurion, 0169 and marked for attention of Ms. Tholoana Nchelke by no later than 15 July 2015.