Silver ‘porn bullet’ for information technology industry?

Chris Bateman


A draft bill that targets the internet and cell phones exclusively to ban all pornography will enable the plugging of 90% of the corrosive IT deluge that floods past current legislation and causes untold damage to society, especially adolescents and young children.
This was claimed at a symposium on ‘The effects of children’s exposure to pornography and the impact on society’, held at a hotel in Newlands, Cape Town, late last month. The proposed law, strongly promoted by the deputy minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba (whose lawyers have been vetting it for 3 months), has provoked vigorous debate around the conflicting rights of human dignity, privacy and freedom of expression. If the bill proceeds as currently drafted, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) intends challenging it in court.
Its drafter, constitutional lawyer John Smyth, QC, a prominent anti-abortionist in Doctors for Life and founder of the Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA), has had previous legal success, ironically in forcing Parliament to hold public hearings for all controversial bills. His track record includes getting home video ‘nasties’ banned for sale to children in the UK and Australia in the early 1980s. Smyth claims his latest initiative has ‘the beauty of simplicity’, is well targeted and meets the criteria for limiting other competing constitutional rights in South Africa. He cites the 2004 De Reuck case where the Constitutional Court dismissed De Reuck’s appeal against his conviction for possession of child pornography, holding that his rights to freedom of expression and privacy were ‘peripheral’ to the core values of human dignity and the rights of children.

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Chris Bateman, HMPG

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pornography, internet, cell phones

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(9):556,558.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-08-03
Date published: 2010-09-07

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