Recently, the Film and Publications Board successfully submitted their draft Online Regulation Policy for consideration by Parliament. The proposed policy aims to regulate content published on the internet to make sure it does not contain hate speech or child pornography. Content uploaded on the net would have to be pre-approved before being uploaded. This has drawn sharp criticism, with critics of the bill claiming that this could stifle free speech.
“Hands off our Internet”
Civil society Right2Know — who are dedicated to fighting for free speech and access to information — have been the most vocal critics of the proposed policy. They’ve started a petition called Hands off our Internet, which calls for the FPB to scrap their draft policy, saying it would “give [the government] broad powers to police everything published on the internet”.
“Any publisher of content would have to register to the FPB and pay a fee each time they’d like to publish something,” Right2Know’s spokesperson Murray Hunter explains. He further mentions that content would have to be submitted to the FPB for pre-publication or you’d have to pay FPB for training as an approved censorship publisher so you can add age restrictions to your content. “This would take away the immediacy of the internet. In that regard, the policy has the same authoritarian impulse as the Protection of State Information Bill. It polices people and limits access to information.”
The bill will now have to be sent to parliament’s communications portfolio committee, who debate whether it will be signed into law.
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