South Africa Is Contemplating The Regulation Of Social Media

Addressing journalists at a press conference on 5 March 2017, South Africa's Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo said “We are contemplating to regulate the space (social media).”

Mahlobo said this during a question and answer session with journalists after a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) press briefing in response to a journalist's question on what South Africa's intelligence agencies were doing to deal with fake news (i.e. misleading information) on social media.

"Even the best democracies that are revered, are regulating social media. Most of our challenges are coming from that space. We will discuss how we will regulate it." Mahlobo added.

On hearing Mahlobo's comments and as would likely be expected, South Africans took to Twitter to express their disapproval of Mahlobo's suggestion of social media regulation using the hashtag #HandsOffSocialMedia.

Also interesting is that it seems that the topic of social media regulation is more than just contemplation as Mahlobo indicated that they will be having discussions with various bodies and forums about how to regulate social media, “We will be discussing how do we regulate it,” said Mahlobo.

If social media regulation is proposed by the State Security Ministry to South Africa's parliament it will be interesting to observe if it can be pass at the Constitutional Court should it be contested considering South Africa's constitution guarantees everyone freedom of speech. But given that social media regulation is being championed by the State Security Ministry, the argument for regulation could be gor "state security reasons". We'll have to watch this closely.

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