New online laws: Here’s what you need to know before you’re charged

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(Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi and and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa). Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during Eid prayer at Lenasia Eidgaah in Nirvana Drive West, Johannesburg. South Africa. 26/06/2017. Siyabulela Duda

President Cyril Ramaphosa approved the Films and Publications Amendment Act in February this year and this is what it means for you.

The new laws gazetted on September 2,  by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies give the Film and Publications Board powers to hold some accountable for online content.

The FPB will become a regulator for digitally distributed content in the country with powers to issue and renew licenses or certificates, and impose fines for non-compliance.

The Act further requires producers of online content, to submit their content to the FPB for classification to determine whether such expression is permitted online or not.

It regulates the online distribution of films, publications in South Africa, games and user generated content on social media including video sharing platforms.

The gazetted regulations also state which parties are exempt from the laws.

Publishers part of the Press Council of South Africa or members of the Advertising Regulatory Board are some of the exempt parties.

The regulations were designed to find a balance to the right to freedom of expression with a responsibility to protect citizens from possible harm.

The amended laws protect citizens from exposure to prohibited content distributed online.

Here are some of the key changes introduced:

The Act prohibits certain kinds of harmful content which include the publication of any media which promotes hate speech or incites violence or sharing of a persons’ intimate images without consent.

Online distributors will have to apply to the FPB’s council for self classification accreditation.

The act gives FPB the power to regulate almost all online content published in the country.

No person may distribute hate speech in any medium which amounts to propaganda, hate speech and violence and will be guilty of an offence.

Should an internet service provider be found to accommodate the hosting or distribution of child pornography or the incitement of violence, it will be subject to a fine.

Read full Act here:

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Feature image:

Marcus Gopolang Moloko
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