Strict website and internet rules planned for South Africa

 ·22 Apr 2022

The dotZA Domain Name Authority (Zadna) has published draft rules aimed at further regulating the registration and operation of websites in South Africa.

Registrars are the organisations that help users buy and configure their domains. If you wanted to set up a website on a domain, you would go to one of South Africa’s many hosting companies, which also offer registrar services, MyBroadband reports.

Some of the key proposals include:

  • Registrars must collect and store identity documents, physical addresses, and contact information of people wishing to register dotZA domains;
  • Licence and registrar fees payable via the registry — yet to be determined;
  • Registrars must apply for a licence, which will be valid for 10 years;
  • If non-commercial registrars stop operating, they must provide customer registration data to Zadna;
  • Registrars must provide broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) information with their licence application — specifically details of BEE ownership.

The Films and Publications Amendment (FPA) Act

The Films and Publications Amendment (FPA) Act, which took effect on 1 March 2022, is also expected to further regulate the country’s websites.

The Amendment Act comes into operation at a time when governments all over the world are grappling with the escalation in potentially harmful content on digital platforms. It gives the Film and Publications Board (FPB)  significant powers to regulate online content in the country, including:

Some of the key changes introduced through the new legislation include:

  • The Act will give the FPB power to regulate almost all online content published in South Africa – not just the movies and television it has previously regulated;
  • All online distributors will be required to register with, and submit all content to the FPB for classification;
  • Alternatively, online distributors will have to apply to the FPB’s Council for self-classification accreditation or for approval to use the classification ratings issued by a foreign or international classification authority;
  • No person may expose, through any medium, including the internet and social media, a private sexual photograph (revenge pornography);
  • Any person who knowingly distributes ‘hate speech’ in any medium which amounts to propaganda for war, incites imminent violence, or advocates hate speech, shall be guilty of an offence;
  • If an internet access provider has knowledge that its services are being used for the hosting or distribution of child pornography, propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocating hatred based on an identifiable group characteristic it shall immediately remove this content, or be subject to a fine.

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