Protection of Information Bil

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GCG (August 13, 2010, 13:46:27 PM):
Is this the gag-order on free speech?

Objects of Act
2. The objects of this Act are to—
(a) regulate the manner in which State information may be protected;
(b) promote transparency and accountability in governance while recognising that State information may be protected from disclosure in order to safeguard the national interest of the Republic;
(c) establish general principles in terms of which State information may be handled and protected in a constitutional democracy;
(d) provide for a thorough and methodical approach to the determination of which State information may be protected;
(e) provide a regulatory framework in terms of which protected information is safeguarded in terms of this Act;
(f) define the nature and categories of information that may be protected from
destruction, loss or unlawful disclosure;
(g) provide for the classification and declassification of classified information;
(h) create a system for the review of the status of classified information by way of regular reviews and requests for review;
(i) regulate the accessibility of declassified information to the public;
(j) harmonise the implementation of this Act with the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act, 1996 (Act No. 43 of 1996);
(k) establish a National Declassification Database of declassified information that will be made accessible to members of the public;
(l) criminalise espionage and activities hostile to the Republic and provide for certain other offences and penalties; and
(m) repeal the Protection of Information Act, 1982 (Act No. 84 of 1982).

A bill (a draft law) can only be introduced in Parliament by a minister, a deputy minister, a parliamentary committee, or an individual MP.
Most bills are drawn up by a government department under the direction of the relevant minister or deputy minister. This kind of bill must be approved by the Cabinet before being submitted to Parliament. Bills introduced by individual MPs are called private members’ bills.
Before it can become a law, a bill must be considered by both houses of Parliament. Certain bills which affect provinces may first be introduced in the NCOP. All other bills are first introduced in the National Assembly. Once it is introduced, the bill is referred to the relevant committee. The bill is published in the Government Gazette for public comment unless it is very urgent. It is debated in the committee and amended if necessary. If there is great public interest in a bill, the committee may organise public hearings. Once it has decided on its version of the bill, the committee submits it to a sitting of the house for further debate and a vote. A bill could be referred back to a committee for more work before a vote is taken. The bill is then referred to the other house for its consideration. If the bill pass through both the National Assembly and the NCOP, it goes to the President for assent. Once it has been signed by the President, it becomes an Act of Parliament – a law of the

Brian (August 13, 2010, 14:12:16 PM):
The way I see it YES! As soon as the politicos start talking of "national interest' head for the hills... it means that individual freedoms are subject to the common good which nobody ever defines and the ultimate question they never address is "At whose cost?"
In any case, we've enough legislation that provides for each of the points contained in this new bill. Some say it'll never fly and get past the Constitutional Court.
GCG (August 13, 2010, 14:21:08 PM):
As far as I've read and understood the roots of our constitution, our basic human rights says two things, which can basically contradict each other.
You have the right to free speach, and the right to privacy.
Now if your right to free speach means delving into the privacy of someone's sordid dealings, then it kinda gets murky.
but what i've allso learned from our laws, is that a lot of stuff contradicts each other, and there are more holes than a swiss cheese with a rodent infestation.
Hermes (August 13, 2010, 14:40:44 PM):
The bill contains some very vague terminology such as "prejudice the State". Exposing the arms scandal could easily be described by government in those terms. It has another clause banning "harbouring or concealing persons" (read sources) which makes investigative journalism nearly impossible.

Some thirty five newspaper editors have issued a joint statement in which they strongly oppose this bill.

The extraordinary circumstances under which Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested at their offices in Rosebank and carted off to Nelspruit last week reads like a horror story.

Media freedom - and by consequence democracy - is under serious threat.
Mefiante (August 13, 2010, 15:07:49 PM):
The Protection of Information Bill together with its cousin, the Media Appeals Tribunal, is an ill-conceived and ill-disguised attempt to exercise state control over the media, in particular the print media. One must remember that a free press is the only effective handbrake on government and business abuses against the people of a country. Without a truly free press, it is just a short hop to autocracy.

The mooted excuse by supporters for these restrictive measures on the media – i.e., that the media are guilty of irresponsible reporting and that they don’t respect the rights of individuals, especially their right to privacy – is also not exactly watertight. Mostly, these are public figures who have been implicated in one or other form of misbehaviour, and it is more than a little hypocritical of them to attempt playing the “right to privacy” card as and when it suits them. As a public figure, it goes with the territory that your actions and words will be held up for public scrutiny. Where a reporting medium is guilty of misreporting, there are in any case already measures in place for remedial action and restitution.

The ANC has also claimed that, based on feedback on its website, ordinary people support the bill. This stands in stark contrast to an SMS poll done during last Tuesday’s edition of SABC3’s Interface programme where 90% of respondents voiced against the proposed measures.

The proposed bill flies squarely in the face of constitutional democratic principles and, in my view, will be struck down with little hesitation by the ConCourt. It has already been rightly condemned by an international body of editors as misguided.



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