The South African government has approved the submission of the Films and Publications (FPB) Amendment Bill, which restricts South Africans from uploading videos to online channels, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, unless they have registered as a distributor and have paid a registration fee.

A cabinet statement released mid-August 2016 announced that the Films and Publications Act of 1996 will be adapted as technology has advanced. The Internet Censorship Bill will give the government the right to monitor and censor content on the internet. The bill applies not only to media, companies and organisations but to all South African entities, including members of the public. Although initially started to restrict child pornography and revenge porn, broad terminology and vague definitions allow for the government to tap into any and all internet activity. This means that any video content contributor on any social media platform will be tracked (name, address, and age) and all distributors will need to register with the FPB.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been against the bill since talk of the amendment was brought to light, and has vocalised their concerns of freedom of expression on the internet being curtailed, which is unconstitutional. They have also commented on the feasibility of enforcing such a bill. “This means every single person with a social media account in South Africa would have to register with the Film and Publication Board as a distributor and pay the requisite fee for pre-classification. This is quite clearly unworkable”, said DA spokesperson on communication, Phumzile van Damme. Click on the image below to sign the DA petition to fight against internet monitoring.

DA Internet Censorship Petition
Petition to throw out the internet monitoring bill.

The Internet Censorship Bill will be deliberated today (20 September 2016), and so we as South Africans await to hear the outcome.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below. Is there more we could do as South Africans to fight against this bill?

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