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Porn Bill on hold

There has been no major headway in finalising the proposed South African Pornographic Bill. Graphic by Sam Thomas

The South Africa Law Reform Commission (LRC) is conducting research to determine how the South African Pornographic Bill should be implemented, a process that could take up to 18 months.

Bayanda Mzoneli, media and parliamentary liaison officer for the Department of Home Affairs, says the deputy minister Malusi Gigaba requested guidance from the LRC in September 2009 on how best to ensure that TV, mobile phones, and the Internet can be included in the classification dispensation to protect children.

“As technology evolves, it became clear that mobile phones and the Internet may contain some classifiable material, with the deputy minister feeling that we cannot neglect these mediums of communication,” says Mzoneli.

He adds that the deputy minister, who provides stewardship to classification authority the Film and Publications Board, has a mandate to protect children from harmful material.

“This is accomplished through the classification of material into varying age restrictions of all films, publications and games,” states Mzoneli.

Draft Bill

Mzoneli explains that the Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa) went so far as to draft the South African Pornographic Bill out of its own initiative, to contribute to the process.

He notes the current draft Bill “is not an official draft Bill of government, and the deputy minister is officially waiting for advice from the LRC”.

According to a Jasa media release on the Internet Pornography Bill, the LRC is to conduct an investigation to 'provide advice on the possibility of legislating against pornography on the Internet, television and mobile phones'.

He explains that the LRC wrote to the deputy minister in April, stating it had decided to conduct research on the matter to decide on how to advise him.

Mzoneli says the advice of the LRC would be to determine whether the inclusion should take the format of legislation, regulation, self-regulation or otherwise.

He adds that the Bill is currently open for public debate, and that IT professionals have not been forthcoming in providing insight into the technological barriers surrounding the implementation of the Bill.

“Hopefully the public discussion will help guide the Bill, but ultimately it is up to the LRC to decide how the Bill will be implemented,” he says.

Adult material domain

In late June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (ICANN), which oversees the Internet on behalf of the US government, decided to approve the .xxx domain name for sites with pornographic material.

The proposal for the domain was made under ICANN's rules for sponsored top-level domains, according to PC World.

The deputy minister is mum on the proposed approval of the .xxx domain for adult material. “The deputy minister has noted the provisional decision of ICANN taken last Friday [25 June] about the registration of the .xxx domain for adult material. Government will look into its implications on Internet safety,” says Mzoneli.


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