Solidarity submitted its comments on the draft regulations recently published for public input by the Film and Publications Board (FPB). In its comments, Solidarity addresses the draconian restrictions on, among other things, basic rights such as freedom of speech and expression that the regulations will impose.
In terms of the regulations all online distributors of information must be registered with the FPB and all content will have to be submitted for classification before it may be published. “Publication” includes any print matter and online platform and applies to any written or visual material. It even includes the publication of games. Excessive fees would then be charged for this so-called right to publish.
“These draft regulations are nothing but a new form of censorship the government wants to implement. The government is clearly in the process of restricting rights and aims to regulate and control what the world and people may see and read. It is absolutely ridiculous that, from now on, people and businesses would have to ask permission and pay a fee before they may publish anything in a newspaper or even on their social media,” Werner Human, deputy chief executive for strategy, legal affairs and research at Solidarity said.
The implications of these regulations, however, extend far beyond internet service providers or companies and will affect the arts and communications industries in particular. Solidarity is concerned that these regulations will not only restrict freedom of speech, but will also dictate any form of communication created for publication.
“We cannot permit the state to apply absolute censorship to creativity. People with careers in communication, design and writing use their talents to fulfil their vocation. The state may not deprive them of this right by restricting their designs and words. These regulations will merely be another way in which the state wants to dictate to us what to say, do and design. We will not allow our members to be bullied in their professions,” said Marisa Engelbrecht, sector head of Solidarity’s Guild for Communication and Marketing.
According to Hennie Bierman, head of Solidarity’s Guilds, the government should in fact make it easier for artists, among others, to publish their work, and any restrictions on freedom of expression by the state and its ideologies must be strongly opposed. “With these regulations the government will cut off the lifeblood of artists. Opposition and even revolt by artists are necessary where censorship is concerned,” Bierman concluded.
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