The Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa (IAB) is challenging the Film and Publication Board (FPB) on their newly proposed online regulation policy.
This gazetted draft policy by the FPB will incur serious consequences for all online media publications. The FPB will be able to censor and deny the publication of any post before it is released in the name of protecting children to dangerous and harmful content on the internet. Online publications including small, medium and large businesses as well as media entities such as the news 24 group will be affected by this policy.
According to the IAB the policy is vaguely structured to cover any type of publication including text, video and even game content referring to: “film, game or certain publication.” in the policy.
The IAB’s Andrew Allison, Head of Regulatory Affairs said that “We absolutely share some of the FPB’s concerns relating to unfettered access of children to harmful and dangerous content on the internet, but we disagree with the manner in which the FPB is proposing to address this. The overwhelming majority of content disseminated via digital media is not harmful, and the mechanisms contained in the Draft Policy are unduly onerous and excessive”.
An excerpt from the policy noting: “with regard to any other content distributed online, the Board shall have the power to order an administrator of any online platform to take down any content that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing to children of certain ages” has also raised some concerns of the freedom of expression by the media as mentioned in Chapter 2 point 16 in the bill of rights.
IAB is a non-profit organization comprised of over 200 influential online publishers such as Google, Vodacom, Nedbank, Woolworths, OLX, takealot.com, the 24 Group, Mail and Guardian, eTV, eNCA, BBC, SABC Online, Independent Online, Times Media, Kagiso Media and Caxton.
Allison also added that “Notwithstanding our issues with the Draft Policy, we have expressed our willingness to cooperate with the FPB in addressing our shared concerns, and are committed to working with them, and with other stakeholders and interest groups, to develop workable, fair and constitutionally-sound solutions”. In the spirit of cooperation the IAB proposed a council comprising of industry leaders to regulate these online posts instead of enforcing an hand binding policy.
Since 2014 the IAB has been working with the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and Press Council on a proposed revision of the Press Code and upgrades to the current Press Council to the goal of establishing this new regulatory council.
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