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New bill to regulate distribution of online content slammed

The Films and Publications Amendment Bill was passed and will allow the Films and Publications Board to regulate content placed online by users.

Picture: supplied.

CAPE TOWN - A political analyst from the University of Stellenbosch believes a new bill passed by Parliament to censor what is placed on social media will be harmful to the citizens of the country.

The Films and Publications Amendment Bill was passed earlier in the week and will allow the Films and Publications Board to regulate content that is placed online by users.

Political Science Professor Amanda Gouws said: “It will be broader than just looking for violence, it will also be looking at issues that have an impact on national security, from there it may lead to surveilling individuals on what they’re doing and I think ultimately it has an impact on the freedom of speech.”

It’s a move the government says will protect children from the sexually explicit material, curb hate speech and revenge porn. But opposition Members of Parliament have criticised the legislation as a bid to regulate the internet and as such, unenforceable.

The bill must now come before the National Council of Provinces for its approval before it can be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.

New Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the rise of the internet and social media made it necessary to amend the existing Film and Publications Act of 1996.

But opposition parties say the Film and Publications Amendment Bill amounts to censorship - and may be unconstitutional.

Additional reporting by Gaye Davis.
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(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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