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Regulating the Internet in South Africa

The new Films and Publications Act, No. 3 which amends Act No. 89 of 1998 has an interesting section which pertains to persons providing Social Media aimed at children. This is stipulated in Section 24C.

I think it is a fairly worded law, questions only arise over implementation, i.e. whether the 60-year old judge presiding over the legal case has ever used Google (let alone understanding the intricacies of GUI design for browsers). All of the items in the Act have been or are being addressed by awareNet, our home-grown social networking software specially for schools...

"Obligations of internet access and service providers

24C. (1) For the purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise indicates-
  • (a) ‘child-oriented service’ means a contact service and includes a content service which is specifically targeted at children;

  • (b) ‘contact service’ means any service intended to enable people previously unacquainted with each other to make initial contact and to communicate with each other;

  • (c) ‘content’ means any sound, text, still picture, moving picture, other audio visual representation or sensory representation and includes any combination of the preceding which is capable of being created, manipulated, stored, retrieved or communicated but excludes content contained in private communications between consumers;

  • (d) ‘content service’ means-
    • (i) the provision of content; or
    • (ii) the exercise of editorial control over the content conveyed via a communications network, as defined in the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 (Act No. 35 of 2005), to the public or sections of the public; and

  • (e) ‘operator’ means any person who provides a child-oriented contact service or content service, including Internet chat-rooms.

(2) Any person who provides child-oriented services, including chatrooms, on or through mobile cellular telephones or the internet, shall-

  • (a) moderate such services and take such reasonable steps as are necessary to ensure that such services are not being used by any person for the purpose of the commission of any offence against children;

  • (b) prominently display reasonable safety messages in a language that will be clearly understood by children, on all advertisements for a child-oriented service, as well as in the medium used to access such child-oriented service including, where appropriate, chat-room safety messages for chat-rooms or similar contact services;

  • (c) provide a mechanism to enable children to report suspicious behaviour by any person in a chat-room to the service or access provider;

  • (d) report details of any information regarding behaviour which is indicative of the commission of any offence by any person against any child to a police official of the South African Police Service; and

  • (e) where technically feasible, provide children and their parents or primary care-givers with information concerning software or other tools which can be used to filter or block access to content services and contact services, where allowing a child to access such content service or contact service would constitute an offence under this Act or which may be considered unsuitable for children, as well as information concerning the use of such software or other tools.
(3) Any person who fails to comply with subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable, upon conviction, to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and such imprisonment."


Posted: September 10th 2009 07:32
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