The South African Law Reform Commission has published a discussion document which proposes that Internet based pornography be completely banned in South Africa. The discussion document titled "Sexual Offences: Pornography and Children" investigates issues such as child sexual abuse and the exposure of children to inappropriate content across various media.

What is interesting, however, is the proposal that all devices in South Africa be fitted with mechanisms to block pornography.

"The Commission provisionally recommends that legislation should comprehensively criminalise all acts of exposing children to pornography and content not suitable for children, in whatever manner, including through advertisement and enticement or by making use of misleading techniques. The Commission endorses the continued criminalisation of child sexual abuse material and its classification as illegal. Consequently the provisional recommendation is to ensure that all devices (new and second hand) be issued or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer/user as being 18 and older. Giving effect to this recommendation will serve to protect both the child and the provider, though regulations will be required to provide for effective implementation."

Pornography blocking machine

It is not the first time, and unlikely the last time, that we observe policy makers in Africa consider blocking pornography. In Uganda for example, the lawmakers announced proudly that they had placed an order for the purchase of a "pornography-blocking machine" which would be able to stop Internet porn from appearing on any Internet connected device in the country. Despite making several statement that the porn-blocking machine is coming soon, what ended up happening was that no such machine arrived and instead, authorities handed over a list of Internet porn sites to telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and ordered them to block them or face prosecution.

While in Kenya, towards the end of 2018, the government announced it is considering plans to ban Internet porn by ordering ISPs to block it at their level.

The SALRC has set a closing date for 30 July 2019 for anyone to submit comments on the discussion document.


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