New SA bill about tackling child pornography, not censorship

A SA government minister defends new Films and Publications Bill as a way of removing online child pornography, not a form of censorship.


A new South African Films and Publications Amendment Bill is not about censoring society but rooting out the possession and distribution of child pornography, according to the government.

Fourth industrial revolution

Communications deputy minister Pinky Kekana explained . ‘the bill does not concern itself with what citizens may publish on social media. However, it empowers the Film and Publication Board (FPB) to facilitate the removal of child pornography wherever it is published. Presenting the bill to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Ms Kekana explained that from its conception, the FPB was not meant to ban any films or publication but furnish members of society with information about the nature and substance of the content they are about to consume. She said, ‘with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, the manner in which we consume films or publications has drastically changed. Content is not viewed only via cinema or DVD anymore. It is now viewed on digital platforms via online streaming facilities [and] this has created a gap in the regulatory framework.’

Child pornography

Ms Kekana said she is concerned ‘citizens, especially children, can now access content, which has not been classified and labelled. Furthermore, we have seen that games, which our citizens, children in particular, consume, need to be appropriately classified. She further explained that although the bill criminalises possession of child pornography, ‘the criminalisation arises as a result of the primary legislation in so far as sexual crimes are concerned, namely the Sexual Offences Act. It therefore became necessary to align the definition of child pornography with the Sexual Offences Act.’ She added, ‘in that same vein, the regulation of digital platforms is the domain of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act inter alia. This bill has to align itself to the provision of those acts.’

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