Right now South Africans could face new regulations that could stop us from posting updates, tweets, images, videos and blogs without first getting approval from the Film and Publication Board. According to the Board's draft regulation, all online content must be classified including “...self generated content uploaded or posted on social media platforms”.  Together with the SOS Coalition, we demand that this regulation be scrapped as it violates our democratic right to freedom of expression and access to information.
The Film and Publication Board is supposed to classify movies and TV shows to protect children and stop the distribution of 'child pornography' (child abuse material). But there is no evidence that the Board’s proposed regulation, which would amount to internet censorship, will stop 'child pornography' (child abuse material) online. This is because, according to experts, 'child pornography' (child abuse material) is shared using special software and websites in the ‘deep web’, not the regular internet .
By trying to pass such a vague policy, the Board could have similar powers to the apartheid censorship board; allowing this unaccountable body to selectively decide what we can and cannot say, read and watch. This could be devastating for activists, who have always used tools - be it posters, songs or social media - to inform and mobilise.
But we can stop this. If enough of us sign and share the campaign before the 15th of July deadline for public submissions, we can build enough public pressure to force the Board to scrap their plans which could silence those who speak truth to power.
Dear Ms. TNF Mpumlwana, Film and Publication Board Chairperson,
We, the undersigned, call on you to scrap the Draft Online Regulation Policy. Not only are the regulations vague, contradictory and outside your mandate, they are unconstitutional. In addition, your draft regulation oversteps ICASA’s role, and is not aligned with regulation and processes from the Department of Communications and the Department of Justice and Correctional Services. Finally, there is no evidence that your regulation will have any impact on tackling child abuse material online, which, as pointed out by experts, needs to be addressed by specialist law enforcement units that can find and stop the distribution of this material.