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R150,000 fine for hate speech on social media in SA

R150,000 fine for hate speech on social media in SA

The DA says it will object to a number of ‘problematic clauses’ in a new bill intended to give the Films and Publications Board (FPB) wide-sweeping powers to censor the Internet.

The Films and Publications Amendment Bill is scheduled to be engaged in Tuesday’s sitting on the Communications Portfolio Committee.

The DA said it fears that if this Bill is pushed through Parliament without due consideration, it will chill free speech enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Introduced in Parliament in November last year, the FBP Amendment Bill seeks to extend the reach of the FPB to include online content and establish a “Penalty Committee” with powers to impose heavy fines and criminal prosecution of those deemed to have contravened its provisions.

Of particular concern is the proposed imposition of fines up to R150,000 or imprisonment by a court of law for “knowingly distributes, in any electronic medium, including the internet and social networking sites, any film, game, or publication which advocates propaganda for war, incites violence, or advocates hate speech”.

According to Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, the FPB, along with the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, will have powers to impose fines and refer any “offenders” to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution for the content of their posts on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites deemed to have fallen foul of the provision.

“Such wide-ranging powers of censorship over all social media posts need to be carefully considered and worded in such a way that it would prevent it being abused by the government to censor, and curb free speech,” Van Damme said.

A clear distinction must be made between free speech and hate speech as defined in the Constitution, the DA said.

Other problematic clauses of the Amendment Bill, according to the DA, include:

  • S5 which gives the Minister the power to appoint the Penalty Committee in consultation with Cabinet. The Penalty Committee will have amongst other powers, the right to impose fines of up to R150 000 and refer cases for prosecution for contraventions of the FPB Act.

A body with such powers should be appointed in consultation with Parliament, and not the Minister and Cabinet to prevent a situation where the Penalty Committee becomes a political hit-squad.

  • S6B(1): which gives the CEO of the FPB undue influence in deciding the sanctions of the Penalty Committee, as well as decisions for criminal prosecution. The Penalty Committee should remain entirely independent, and not operate under any influence of the CEO, to prevent bias, perceived or otherwise.
  • S18 usurps the powers of ICASA, and oversteps the FPB’s mandate, by stating that ICASA may not issue or renew any broadcasting license to a broadcaster who also streams content through the Internet, unless such broadcaster is also registered with the Board as a distributor. This creates an unnecessary duplication of administration and regulation.

The DA noted that the Amendment Bill’s seeks to outlaw revenge porn, by prohibiting the publication through any electronic medium including the internet and social networking sites, private sexual photographs or films if the publication is without consent of the subject, or intended to distress. This it welcomed.

“Revenge porn has become a major problem in the age of the internet, affecting mostly women, and it is imperative that it is legislated against. However, the Amendment Bill in its current form leaves large scope for abuse which parliament cannot allow,” Van Damme said.

More on the SA Internet Censorship Bill

Cabinet approves SA Internet censorship bill

New cybercrimes bill ‘fatally flawed’

South Africa and Internet censorship: where are we heading?

SA’s online censorship plans could go another route

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • Gary Fields

    How does one define ‘hate speech’? I hate JZ and here I have said it online – is that ‘hate speech’? Will anything critical be considered ‘hate speech’?

    FPB – just another Apartheid relic that the ANC just took over and continued with.

    • Broscientist

      How dare you! 🙂

    • D3Rp3R

      if you white yes its hate speech, if you black nah bru, its your right to react to years of slavery…


    • Emil

      Did you lived in the Separate Development Era ? The FPB was there to guard the morals of the nation. The “new” intended laws are wider and more protective to society in this aspect: “or publication which advocates propaganda for war, incites violence, or advocates hate speech”. Think of the future……

      • Gary Fields

        propaganda for war
        incite violence
        advocates hate speech

        .. all necessary tools used by people from the American Revolution, the Nazi era and Mandela to overthrow other regimes – all were successful in their overthrowing’ but only the Americans and Mandela had the higher morality. The same could not be said for the Nazis and the current regime, and the NP. The censorship laws of the old FPB where there to protect the NP, just like these laws are there to protect the ANC. Protect children from child porn and exploitation? A convenient justification. Revenge porn? Current laws are probably good enough.

        Sorry, just like the nazis, no law promulgated by an evil and corrupt regime like the ANC can be for the good of the people. It is always for the good of the party.

  • Lone Stranger

    As long as this apply to everyone and not a particular race, I am fine with this.

    • James Dean

      There’s probably a taken out of context clause somewhere in there.

    • D3Rp3R

      ofcourse not.

      blacks are exempt, seemingly from everything…

  • James Dean

    You’ll never stop it coming from abroad.

    • Space Chief

      Don’t worry. The next step will be to penalize watching it.

      • Emil

        The intentions is all good. Just put some blocks and stops where needed and all will be fine. We are overall protected by Constitutional Laws and every thing else should/would be subject to that. I like the – “or publication which advocates propaganda for war, incites violence, or advocates hate speech”. Think of the future…..

  • SpiritOfNehanda

    This to me sounds like a good example of a patch. Fixing an underlying problem the wrong way. Treating the symptoms…

  • Literally Mario

    Me: I HATE racists!
    FPB: That’s a R150 000 fine.

    Me: I… love racists?
    FBS: That’s fine.

    • the-TRUTH

      Interesting point…

  • Joe Soap

    Tor here we come.

  • victor lossa

    HA HA HA HA HA HA……….and WHO will decide WHEN is “hate speech”??

    Mantushe has uttered: “…an attack on Zupta is an attack on us all…”

  • Mike Watkins

    I presume that comrade Muthambi’s amendents to the communication’s bill will classify “telling the truth about our useless regime and even more pathetic president”, as hate speech; While applauding Comrade Blade Nzimande and the SACP’s rantings about Base and madams as examples of how little boys, who belong to a failed minority party should throw tantrums?

  • kuli
    • Pirates&Paupers

      Nothing like a show of brains….

  • Silver King

    Yes,They are doing so well with piracy…..

    • Magic Mushroom

      Yeah…… just go past the East Rand Mall and you wont see over 50 people surrounding it not selling hundreds if not thousands of pirated DVD’s. Oh…. and that hasn’t been going on either for the last 10 years ++…

      • Silver King

        On the streets they run away. In the flea markets they happily put all their pirated movies up on display. Trader square has 5 shops I know of openly selling pirated games.

  • Pirates&Paupers

    The real problem is NOT racism or hate, its FRUSTRATION!
    People take their frustrations out on each other and look for someone to blame.
    As trying to take it out on government is water off a ducks back they start taking it out on each other.
    Give the country a decent government (no one cares about its colour, only its competency) and all the racism and hatred will suddenly vanish.

  • Dreigorian

    They should start with all the companies implementing bee…wow they are going to be rich

  • Anakin StealthVader

    We are edging ever so closer to an outright dictatorship, all so that no one will be able to criticize the ANC for anything. And isn’t it ironic that it’s always the individuals in government that are poor performers and show total lack of insight where it is expected, that are always behind ideas such as a ‘penalty commitee’?

    – Jacob Zuma : a poor leader with zero financial savvy, everytime he opens his mouth the markets rumble with tremors and earthquakes – stocks go down then go up again then unexpectedly goes down again as soon as Zuma opens his big mouth :

    “Van Rooyen was highly qualified for finance job, says Zuma”

    – Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi : who dictated that DTT ‘must wek’ even
    when the market and all other indicators shows that satellite & broadband IS the future, that the terrestrial way of broadcasting is effectively dead by now.

    But wait, if you get a really really BIG DTT aerial and erect it next to your dwelling in the middle of nowhere then you can watch the ANC’s propaganda live on your tv, just remember the propaganda tv license fee.

    And when the lightning zaps the DTT aerial Faith Muthambi & kie will appoint a commitee to ‘investigate the lightning phenomena’ which will result in BBBEEE company ‘needing’ to sell lightning conducters to the poor, disadvantaged and unemployed citizens.

    Really now – a “Penalty Committee” – what’s next?

  • weepee1

    I’m okay with the R150K! When student’s & politicians start thinking it’s okay to threaten white people with genocide then the consequences need to be drastic. If some white bonehead calls people “monkeys” and in so doing insight violence the consequences need to be drastic. Bottom line is hate speech needs to stop – both white and black!

    • Rupert Belmont

      Except that the official policy is that black people cannot be racists.

      If this policy didn’t exist we would not have AA, BEE, cadre deployment and and failing municipal services. Because all these laws are highly racists.

  • Robert Dixon

    If fairly applied the ANC and their “friends” will be paying A LOT!

    • Rupert Belmont

      Didn’t you hear? Blacks CANNOT be racists!

  • MH

    The EFF and ANC will be bankrupt in no time at all, as will all their supporters! The problem is that the racist from the EFF and ANC will refuse to pay and go into full riot mode.

  • LBS

    EFF will be the first to get a fine!

    • ToothyGrinn

      How so?

      • LBS

        If you can’t figure that out then you must be an EFFer as well.

        • ToothyGrinn

          There are no whites in the EFF …. duh!

          • LBS

            Whether you are white or black, I’m talking about hate speech, ever so often we see hate speech of the EFF, or haven’t you noticed???

          • ToothyGrinn

            Okay it seems you’re a little slow so I’ll try make it easier for you:
            Name one black person fined for been racist to a white.

          • LBS

            This is going to be a new law. DUH? Do you have to be so bitchy? It’s exactly what I MEAN, EFF SHOULD be the first to get a fine. Now go and grinn somewhere else.

          • ToothyGrinn

            You still don’t get do you?

          • LBS

            I do. You want to say that a black will never be fined for Racism. I tend to agree with you, but I’m stating the fact of how it SHOULD be done.

          • Rupert Belmont

            The EFF, the whole ANC caucus in the Parliament, the whole ANC NEC and every minister in the Government and most importantly the #1.

            All of them are racists of the highest order.

          • Emil

            Ah come on!! its not about a “fine” its about the slander , shouting insults, propagating shooting whites ( “and they will run”)
            NOT a joke…..pure warning to us oke’s If one’s a loser like Zuma, then with your inferiority complex you will retaliate to satisfy your deep down hatred.

  • Rupert Belmont

    Welcome to North Korea!

    Kim Yong Un will be proud of ANC and their libtard “useful idiots”.

  • Thomas Damascus

    I dont remember agreeing to this theft of our free speech! Hate crime legislation is being ramped up to protect the Jewish Labour Zionist Mafia running this country and robbing its mineral wealth from under our noses! there is some truth sepeech for you

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