Don't censor free speech, ConCourt told

2012-03-13 13:24
Johannesburg - Compelling people to obtain approval before they could tweet, Facebook or blog on anything relating to sexual conduct would silence all online expression on the topic, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday.

If amendments to Section 16 of the Film and Publications Act stayed in place, this would mean that even cartoons such as Zapiro's series on the "rape" of lady justice, or an arbitrary blogger's observations on a report that a politician was caught with a prostitute, would have to be pre-classified.

This was argument submitted by an organisation called Section 16, who are friends of the court in an application to have Section 16(1), Section 16(2) and Section 24(2) of the Film and Publications Act confirmed invalid.

These require that all publications, excluding newspapers, must pre-classify any material that contains sexual conduct.

The act came into force in March 2010.

The applicants - Print Media SA and the SA National Editors Forum - believe large numbers of publications will have to be submitted to the Film and Publications Board in matters of substantial public interest.

It will have severe negative consequences for the publication in terms of deadlines, and for the public.

The parties are also questioning why newspapers were given an exemption, because they fall under the self-regulatory system of an ombudsman and a Press Code, but not magazines.

Describing possible scenarios of online publication, Section 16 lawyer Shannon Steyn said the objective of protecting children was not in question, but a debate on a topic relating to sexual conduct in a chatroom or on Twitter would have to be pre-classified comment by comment, and would lead to self-censorship.

She submitted that this was not in line with South Africa's fundamental right of freedom of expression.

She likened the amendments to "burning down the house to roast the pig".

The case continues.
Read more on:    sanef  |  media  |  legislation

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Amazing solar inventions!

Solar power is lighting up the world, and not just on rooftops anymore.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

It may be hard to maintain a steady rhythm as you find yourself juggling a zillion things. Slow down a little and let go of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.