AfriForum condemns government’s underhanded attempt to introduce censorship law

The civil rights organisation AfriForum says government’s attempts to push through a new censorship law is unacceptable. In a letter to the Film and Publications Board (FBP), AfriForum’s legal team submitted that the Draft Classification Guidelines for the Classification of Films, Games and Certain Publications, grant overly broad powers to the FPB that are inconsistent with the Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996. The draft guidelines cannot grant more power to the FPB than the Act itself. This is patently illogical, unlawful and irregular.

Secondly, the draft guidelines would overburden the FPB with additional regulatory and oversight responsibilities. In terms of the draft guidelines, all legitimate content that meets the criteria of a film, game, publication or online content as defined in the Act would be included under the jurisdiction of the FBP. This would include mobile content, video and other content published on the internet. The organisation has also demanded that the comment period for the draft be extended.

According to the organisation the Government Printing Works also incurred a web hosting failure which started as an outage on 15 January 2022. It seems the hardware failure impacted the infrastructure component of GPW’s web hosting.

As a result of the above, the Government Gazette which published the draft guidelines was not widely available or known. Consequently, it was only after becoming aware through media reports late in February 2022 that reported on the draft guidelines, that the public and civil society organisations became aware of the public comment period.

“This law will be absolutely impossible to enforce. Any content creator, in other words anyone who wants to post or share a video or photo on social media, now has to register with the Film and Publications Board, and get their content approved before it can be posted. It is also easy to see how this law can be weaponised by the government, to target opposition parties, NGO’s and their critics’ social media content, seeing as it will be government officials who approve the content,” says Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s Campaigns Manager.

AfriForum has requested that the time for commentary be extended until at least the end of March.

Similar Posts