The Films and Publications Amendment Bill [Bill 27 of 2006] will only be finalized next year to allow interested stakeholders to hash out policy issues a bit more.
ISPA (the Internet Service Providers Association of SA) has welcomed the extension stating that: “In its efforts to protect minors from sexual exploitation in the media, ISPA believes the proposed Amendment Bill to the Film and Publications Act [Act No. 65 of 1996] targets the wrong entities, presents confusing definitions, is not technology-neutral, is procedurally unfair and tramples on media freedoms.”
It seems that the bone of contention for ISPs lies in Section 24C of the Bill. This section has the potential of making ISPs responsible for Internet chat services that they don’t actually run.
“The proposed Section 24C refers to "child-orientated services" without defining them. ISPA recommends that this means services which are specifically targeted at children rather than adults and limited to contact services which allow users to contact each other and exchange communications,” stated ISPA.
ISPA want the Bill to place the onus of responsibility firmly on the shoulders of the operators of these child-oriented contact services rather than the ISP.
Their argument is that by targeting the ISP rather than the person providing the services may allow these operators to avoid their obligations.
“Obligations should be imposed on the operators of child-orientated contact services who are unlikely to be the ISP itself. Targeting the bandwidth provider rather than the person actually providing a service to children may allow the operators of child-orientated services to avoid their obligations,” said ISPA.
ISPA fully supports stipulations that ISPs provide home users and schools with filtering software but noted that the providing this same service to corporate entities at no extra charge “could cause an ISP to incur massive costs”.
ISPA has also suggested that the obligation should not be to provide the software but rather to provide customers with the ability to obtain the software.