DOC to issue amendment Acts

Nicola Mawson
By Nicola Mawson, Contributor.
Johannesburg, 28 Feb 2012

The Department of Communications (DOC) is set to introduce the Electronic Communication Amendment Bill and the Independent Communication Authority of SA (ICASA) Bill by March.

In November last year, the department issued the amended Electronic Communication Bill, but withdrew it three weeks later, after it was slammed for giving the minister too much power and taking away some of ICASA's independence.

The previous version of the Electronic Communication Bill was set to be tabled in Parliament this year, before being withdrawn. It aimed to amend the 2005 Act to “give clarity and to strengthen the powers, role and the functions” of the minister and ICASA, it says.

In January, current minister Dina Pule said the revised draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill would be released for public comment in the first quarter of this year.

The release of the Bill followed consultation within government and all relevant stakeholders.

However, Kathleen Rice, director of technology, media and telecommunications at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, notes that a new Bill is being announced soon after the previous version was withdrawn, which is an “unusually quick turnaround time”.

Rice hopes the revised version will improve ICASA's efficiency, but not increase the minister's powers in such a way as to infringe on the regulator's independence.