R2K strongly condemns web hosting company Hetzner South Africa for taking the website Black Opinion.co.za offline, suppressing the site contributor’s freedom to impart information. As R2K, we are convinced that Hetzner’s take-down of Black Opinion is an act of censorship which violates the website owner’s freedom of expression and the right to communicate.
It is also highly disturbing that such action was taken after just one complaint without any substantial reasoning. R2K has been tirelessly campaigning against the Film and Publications Board’s (FPB) proposals to censor the internet in South Africa and find it very disturbing that there are individuals who promote the censoring and restricting of publishable content in a democratic state.
As our Constitution highlights the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to receive or impart information or ideas, it is imperative to understand that freedom of expression is especially for those whose opinions we differ with.
Section 77 of the Electronic Transactions Act of 2002, which allows for such take-downs, doesn’t provide adequately for the rights of the publisher that’s the target of the notice. This creates an inherently one sided process, where private hosting companies are taking taking decisions about whether or not content is acceptable, or making a personal determination about whether or not it included speech which is not constitutionally protected. This can lead to the privatisation of censorship.
There is a genuine need for a more diverse and transformed media and R2K has long called for a democratisation of the media industry to include not only a few privately-owned media and telecommunications companies but a more diversified terrain, including a robust public broadcaster, and community media and alternative media organisations. Without a doubt, private media is concentrated in the hands of a few commercial entities, but it is R2K’s position not to discriminate on monopoly capital; We want a democratic media landscape not dominated capital- let the people be the media.
Noting that a democratic media is at the heart of transforming South Africa into a truly democratic country, the R2K campaign calls on Hertzner South Africa to put the Black Opinion website back online and refrain from any future acts of censoring online content.
Issued by Right2Know Campaign
For Comment: Mhlobo Gunguluzi 0787427719
Biko Mutsaurwa 0214471000