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Internet censorship bill approved in South Africa

This statement was originally published on misa.org on 21 August 2015.

South Africa's Cabinet has approved the submission of the films and publications amendment bill despite public outcry that it is guided by policy seeking to curb Internet freedoms. The cabinet said the bill seeks to amend the films and publications act of 1996 by adapting it to technological advances.

These changes include catering for online and social media platforms "in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing and harmful media content in all platforms (physical and online)". A draft policy drawn up by content classification body the Film and Publication Board (FPB) is expected to inform the bill.

Topics covered in the draft policy are preventing children from viewing, for example, pornography online. Hate speech and racist content have also been covered by the draft online policy. The bill strengthens the duties imposed on mobile networks and internet service providers to protect the public and children during use of their services.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will not issue licences or renewals without confirmation from the Film and Publication Board of full compliance with its legislation. The FPB was not available for comment on what exactly is contained in the amendment bill.

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