The Act requires producers of online, commercial content to submit their content to the FPB for classification to determine whether such expression is permitted online or not. This extends the FPB’s classification mandate from traditional film and television to include all online commercial content. The Act also regulates the online distribution of films, games, and publications in South Africa, including all user-generated content on social media and video sharing platforms.
Additionally, the Act introduces new prohibitions on certain kinds of harmful content, including:
- Publication of any media which promotes hate speech or imminent incitement to violence
- The sharing of a person’s intimate images without consent
As the Act extends the FPB’s compliance and monitoring obligations to online distributors and the classification of content, the Act effectively makes the FPB both the point of compliance and complaint for all online content, including non-commercial user content on social media.
The new provisions have not been welcomed by all, with legal analysts raising concern over some of the potentially contentious amendments. This includes concerns over censorship and the regulation of speech, the extension of the FPB’s mandate to include regulation of prohibited speech such as hate speech and incitement to violence which are already dealt with in criminal law, and whether the expansion of the FPB’s mandate to such a wide range of online content is enforceable.
Since the Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996, the FPB’s mandate has been principally focused on movies and television. The FPAA thus reflects a move away from physical distribution through cinemas and DVDs to distribution over the online space and social media. Further regulations detailing how the Act will be enforced are due to be announced by the end of March 2022 and are likely to give clarity on classification and permissibility under the Act.
- Access the Films and Publications Amendment Act here
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].