There are real cyber threats - Mahlobo on regulating social media

State Security Minister David Mahlobo. Picture: Lulama Zenzile
State Security Minister David Mahlobo. Picture: Lulama Zenzile

Cape Town - State Security Agency minister David Mahlobo says his department's intentions in potentially regulating social media is to isolate the "real threats" posed by cybercrime.

In a Parliamentary reply released on Friday, Mahlobo said the threats could "destabilise" the social media space. He was responding to a question from DA MP Dirk Stubbe.

"We’ve maintained that information-sharing via the electronic web or cyberspace has revolutionised our world and the way in which we interact with each other," Mahlobo said.

"However, on the same breath, there are real threats that have manifested themselves in the same space, which if left unchecked can destabilise our use of this space and result in untold harm to individuals, corporates and governments.

"These include amongst others, cybercrime activities, human trafficking, defamation, child pornography and the like."

He said the concern is to isolate and deal with those individuals who have nefarious intentions and want to use cyberspace and its platforms to propagate such.

'Endless opportunitities'

Stubbe wanted to know what his reasons were for the new measures, when the department plans on implementing them and what avenues it would take.

Mahlobo said the intention of his media briefing on March 5, where he first announced his intentions to possibly regulate social media, was to bring attention to the issue and begin a process of discussion and debate.

He said the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill is due to be processed by Parliament this year, which will allow the public to give input into the issue when it is opened for comment.

Mahlobo repeated that the internet still has exciting opportunities to offer.

"It has brought exciting opportunities in developing our economies, improving our health care, education, agricultural production, the provision of services to name but a few.

"These opportunities are endless."

Mahlobo told journalists at the March 5 briefing that the issue was becoming concerning due to the rise of fake news, among other things.

He understood that regulation would not be an easy thing to do and could be seen to be "interfering with human rights", but that even the most advanced democracies regulate the space.

It would therefore need to be discussed with various bodies and forums, he had said.

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