Online content regulation will impair neutrality: ISPA

The South African Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) says the government’s proposed Cybercrimes and Related Matters Bill and the Film & Publications Board’s draft online content regulation strategy have the potential to impair ISP neutrality.

ISPA, which represents 175 members including ISPs, said for Internet service providers to continue to operate viably they must protect freedom of expression and the the right to user privacy.

“Both rights are, of course, enshrined in our Constitution,” said ISPA.

“Regarding an ISP as controlling the content flowing over its network or making ISPs jointly liable with customers for unlawful acts is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what an ISP is and sets the sector down a problematic path,” said Dominic Cull, ISPA regulatory advisor.

“An ISP is no more responsible for content on its network than the Post Office is responsible for the content of letters circulating through the postal system.”

ISPA said service providers must be shielded from liability for third-party content, and content must not be restricted without a court order.

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Online content regulation will impair neutrality: ISPA