New porn policing legislation is confusing, says social media lawyer

Emma Sadlier, Social Media Lawyer, discusses the ramifications of Film and Publication Board publishing the final version of its Online Regulation Policy on its website aimed to police user-generated content and content of a sexual nature.

Sadlier welcomes the objectives behind the legislation, but says the process is flawed.

I think it would be generous to say that this new policy is not a model of clarity. it is very confusing.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

Sadlier says there are two pieces of law being dealt with.

The first is the Film and Publication's Act Amendment Bill, which is winding its way through Parliament at the moment. There are many people making submissions. The deadline for submissions is next week.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

And that squarely includes the criminalisation of revenge porn...which means that if anybody exposes through any electronic media a private sexual photograph or film, without the consent of that person who appears in the content, and with the intention of causing that person distress, they can be prosecuted. It is a criminal offence.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

The penalty will be a fine of up to R150 000 or two years in prison.

The second issue being dealt with is the draft Online Regulation Policy. Film and Publication Board says it approved this last month and it is on its way to the minister. They are calling for submissions for this as well.

The second issue being dealt with in law is the draft Online Regulation Policy. The Film and Publication Board have approved this and it is on its way to the minister with submissions being called for.

Truthfully, it is very difficult to reconcile the policy with the Amendment Bill, and I would say they are putting the cart before the horse a little bit, because the policy should come after the Bill and give clarity to the Bill rather than happening at the same time.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

Sadlier believes the policy is premature and it is therefore not legally sound to publish it.

She says the objectives are legitimate - protecting minors, criminalising child pornography and limiting the exposure of children to pornography.

But it seems like they are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

She does not think that prior classification of what is or is not pornography, is the way to go about this.

I'm thrilled that we are finally going to criminalise this revenge porn, and that we can arrest these terrible humans that share intimate photographs at the end of a relationship, or where they have hacked into computers.

Emma Sadlier, social media lawyer

But Sadlier believes this law will be in the wrong body of legislation. It should be housed under the Sexual Offences Act, so as to afford victims proper protection mechanisms.

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