Category: Freedom

Send the ‘Groot Boetie’ FPB amendment & copyright bill back to legislators

ONE month ago, the controversial FPB amendment bill was passed by South Africa’s Parliament. It came as a major blow to online content providers battling prior restraint and other apartheid-era laws from a previous period of newsroom censorship, and will ostensibly turn ISPs into cops, tasked with enforcing FPB content classification, and in some instances, even blocking sites.

If it isn’t nipples and journalists that interest the authorities, then it is Hollywood’s copyright regime and our own country’s fair use/fair dealing laws which seemingly protect creators of content.

A related piece of legislation, the copyright law amendment bill, as it stands contradicts public rights protections and seeks to impose institutional copyright on behalf of collecting agencies, even in areas where a permissive licensing system may already be in place. There is a well-funded lobby promoting copyright restrictions and classification, that also wants to remove fair use wording and any public domain permissions. Currently there are not enough checks and balances shoring up legal defenses against prior restraint while promoting freedom of speech, innovation and the reuse of content via permissive licensing.

The anti-piracy lobby group SAFACT has announced plans to block online sites.  Opening the door to politicians who may also want to block sites and target publishers with which they disagree. The vocal religious lobby routinely rails against what they perceive to be the “anything goes society” as do those from the ‘moral majority’ who view porn as the “work of the devil”.

Conservative and Far Left campaigns against porn, hate speech and other ‘social evils’, have invariably resulted in the loss of fundamental freedoms. Acting as a cover for those who seek to limit criticism and public opinion.

The threat of holding ISPS and publishers responsible for users comments was enough to shut down many discus comments sites when the FPB amendment was first announced, effectively destroying the evolution of online letters to the editor and further eroding what freedom remains on the Internet. The emergence of overly broad anti-hate speech legislation hasn’t helped matters either.

The controversy surrounding the X18 age restriction of local film The Wound, the first time a local film has received such a rating in recent memory, is another example of how the FPB will play itself out.

We’ve written about the many problems presented by the FPB and its draconian plans, chief of which is censorship of online content and the erosion of communications and press freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights. Thus the information freedom subsumed under article 16 freedom of expression, and the right to not have the privacy of our communications infringed, under article 14 privacy rights. All drafted following a period in which apartheid censors had gone overboard in their quest to purify political discourse.

You can read some of these articles here:

Stop SA Government Internet Tax & Censorship Plan

Apartheid censor board mooted, targeting online content

South African Cybercrime Bill creates Trial by Hollywood

There is still time to stop the FPB amendment, (and canvass parliament on the Copyright Bill.)

“First, the president can refuse to sign it and send it back to the National Assembly on the point that he thinks it is unconstitutional, or constitutionally problematic. If that doesn’t happen, any MP can ask the Constitutional Court to review it on the point that the amendment is unconstitutional. Finally if it is passed into law, a private citizen or other body could potentially take up legal suit to get the now Act declared unconstitutional.”

Open letter to Farid Esack

Dear Farid Esack,

As one of many secular South Africans of Jewish descent who fought against apartheid, and who once believed you to be a comrade, I wish to respond to your latest opinion piece on the subject of the Middle East problem.

Your incoherent ramblings, in which you appear unable to distinguish between religious laws versus ​the ​secular laws of the Republic, speaks to the manner in which you and your associates seek to characterise any person in disagreement as a supporter of the Israeli regime and any person who is not a member of your faith, an infidel.

That both sides have engaged in the kind of venality best ascribed to fascism and dictatorship, and whose supporters are for the main, conservatives, zealots and extremists of various faiths, emboyed by the passions of the multitudes, have left little room for calm and appeals to civil rights​, ​liberties​ and the rule of law​.

Your lack of engagement with those most affected by your campaign of hate over the years,  and your appropriation of the gender debate, is all part and parcel of the historical record of a conflict which can be best described as Injustice versus Injustice.

Far from being a binary conflict between black and white as was the struggle against apartheid, the struggle in the Middle East is unfortunately, an asymmetric, religious assault via proxy over the final status of Jerusalem.

Recent developments have compounded this view. One has merely to examine the embarrassment of the recent conference of Islamic States whose support for the partition of Jerusalem itself, provides a terrible counter-point to the equally embarrassing claim by Israel and the Trump administration to the whole of Jerusalem.

That the right-wing Likud is jumping for joy, while Hamas equivocates, having amended its political programme this year from a war against the Jews, to a war against the Zionists, is par for the course.

Sadly, you seem to forget an inconvenient truth, in Nelson Mandela’s bipartisanship and open support for a secular outcome: “We identify with the PLO because just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination … the support for Yasser Arafat and his struggle does not mean that the ANC has ever doubted the right of Israel to exist as a state, legally. We have stood quite openly and firmly for the right of that state to exist within secure borders​.” (Nelson Mandela on Ted Koppel Show)​

Neither Israelis nor the Palestinians have the support of the United Nations insofar as the 1947 United Nations Plan for Palestine is concerned​.

According to this plan the city would have been placed under an international regime, conferring it a special status due to its shared religious importance. Instead, the dictat and aggression of the Arab League, (a bloc that is far from a having sterling record of support for gender rights), put paid to this position, as has the dic​tat ​and brinkmanship of the equally misogynistic Trump administration, to any hopes for a peaceful outcome along similar lines.

One can only hope that the reality of the final status issues, will galvanise peacebuilders and war resisters on the ground to provide alternatives to the conflict.​

A starting point would be to reject the propaganda emanating from religious scholars and theocrats such as yourself, and instead to embrace open dialogue and reconciliation amongst peoples of different faiths and backgrounds.​

​No to partition, yes to duel, non-binary status for Jerusalem.

Kind regards

David Robert Lewis

(letter unpublished by Cape Times)

ISPs refuse to shut down Pirate Bay

INTERNET service providers have refused to cooperate with an entertainment industry group’s demand to shut down The Pirate Bay, Following Friday’s conviction of the four men connected with the popular file sharing site, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry ( IFPI ) is demanding that Pirate Bay website be shut down.

But Internet service providers (ISPs) refuse to cooperate, reports the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Neither has the judgment slowed down file sharing. Several minutes after the Stockholm District Court delivered the verdict, almost ten billion files were being downloaded.

The ISPs maintain that the ruling doesn’t apply to them.

“In part, this is not a legally binding decision, but above all, this is a judgment against Pirate Bay and nothing that effects any service provider. We will not take any action (to block) the contents if we are not compelled to do so,” Patrik Hiselius, a lawyer at Telia Sonera, told Svenska Dagbladet.

Bredbandsbolaget and Com Hem had the same reply. Jon Karlung, managing director of Bahnhofs, said the judgement does not change anything.

“We will not censor sites for our customers; that is not our job. I am against anything that contradicts the principle of a free and open Internet.” SOURCE:

2010 rights watch – Fifa restricting civil rights

Fifa Stadium restricts civil rights

Fifa Stadium restricts civil rights

A DRACONIAN Cape Town City Bylaw could outlaw indoor gatherings of more than 50 people where microphones, Ipods, and and ghetto blasters are used and if the result is amplified sound , even if the event happens in the comfort of your living room, consider it an offence without a license.

The proposed new bylaw is intended to force events organisers to apply for licenses to host “musicians, poets and entertainers”, while regulating an environment in which businesss-in-exchange-for-favours is the order of the day. The City plans to clean-up the boho inner city strip of Long Street and other entertainment areas, forcing promoters of “educational, cultural and religious events” to give-up a percentage of their takings in exchange for mutually beneficial “partnerships”, and the bylaw has thus set in motion a regulatory mechanism intended to create a “return on investment” from both public and private facilities, and covers outdoor and indoor events of every description in Cape Town.

ACDP MP reveals life as whore’s daughter

CHERYLL DUDLEY of the ACDP has revealed her life as the grandchild of a sex worker. In an open debate last night between various members of SWEAT moderated by Judge Dennis Davis, Dudley spoke of her turmoil growing up as the child of a sex-worker’s daughter. “This was before I found Jesus Christ”, she said. “Since finding Christ, life had been better” and this conversion had allowed her to “speak openly about prostitution”.

The ACDP does not support the decriminalisation of sex-work, despite research published by the Insitute for Security Studies, showing that the lives of Cape Town’s 1200-plus sex workers could be improved if they no longer feared prosecution from the police. According to Benicia September of Sweat, “police are the one thing we fear”, and many sex workers fell victim to abuse which they could not report for fear of prosecution.

In a lively debate held at Cape Town’s Castle, the problem of child-prostitution was raised, in particular the impossibility of policing in an environment where such practices were swept under the carpet. Bringing sex-work out into the open, would help alleviate suffering and contribute to health in the face of an epidemic which has affected single and married South Africans alike.


Albert Hofmann, father of LSD, embarks on final trip, age 102, Switzerland

GENEVA: The associated press, Frank Jordans has reported that Albert Hofmann, the father of the vision-producing substance, LSD whose medical discovery inspired — and arguably brought society into the virtual world and computer age — the 1960s hippie generation has become the zippie generation of today – has embarked on his final trip. He was 102.

Hofmann apparently died Tuesday at his home in Burg im Leimental, according to Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village near Basel where Hofmann moved following his retirement in 1971.

For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention.

“I produced the substance as a medicine. … It’s not my fault if people abused it,” he once said.

The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.

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