APC's press statement >>

Process: The ECT Bill is the result of a consultative process that began in 1999 with the publication of a discussion paper, after which the Green Paper was developed and published in 2000, and now the fast tracking of the Bill. Public comment on the Bill was extended and submissions were heard during the week of the 13th of May, 2002. The Bill has gone through Parliament and will go to the National Council of Provinces at the end of this week before it is signed into law by the President.

Author: Minister of Communications

Purpose: According to the Bill:
  • 'To provide for the facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions;
  • to provide for the development of a national e strategy for the Republic;
  • to promote universal access to electronic communications and transactions and the use of electronic transactions by SMMEs;
  • to provide for human resource development in electronic transactions;
  • to prevent abuse of information systems;
  • to encourage the use of e Government services;
  • and to provide for matters connected therewith.

www.ectbill.co.za
Unofficial information repository >>

Problems:

  • Proposal to put the .za domain under government control: government wishes to set up a Domain Name Authority and appoint members to the board of directors. This is being opposed by current domain name administrators and the Internet society in general as entirely undemocratic. They say that government should be involved in, but not excercise control over domain name administration in South Africa.
  • Broad powers granted to government and the Department of Communications to register domains
  • Restrictions on cryptography: the bill indicates a requirement that all providers of cryptography products and services provided in SA be registered in a government database. This means that tt will effectively become an offence carrying up to a two-year prison term for anyone to sell a computer in SA (see http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/internet/2002/0206181213.asp?O=FPLF for more information)
  • Details of consumer protection and spamming

Full text, B8 2002: >>

Submissions:

  • Bridges.org says that 'no single government department should have sole responsibility for championing the growth of electronic commerce in SA', and government should appoint an "eminister" to oversee the process. Full submission >>
  • British Chamber of Business says 'registration of cryptology services and the supply of information regarding the application of codes is, in the view of British Chamber members, a clear breach of intellectual property rights. In many cases this will involve international investors and spread a message which is to the detriment of South Africa’s investment case.' Full submission >>
  • South African Chapter of the Internet Society says: 'We fail to understand why the Department of Communications in particular feels that it has a better "claim" on the administration of the .za name space than any other Government department, or for that matter the private sector. To our knowledge, there is not a single poor, disadvantaged or disabled person who has had difficulty in registering an .x.y.ZA domain, and who would have had less trouble registering such a domain if dealing if a parastatal bureaucracy.' >>
  • Namespace za says: 'It is the firm opinion of Namespace ZA that the domain name system of South Africa should be in the hands of the Internet community, in consultation with government.' >>
  • Uniform says: 'We firmly believe that implementation of the Bill as it currently stands will have serious negative repercussion on the operation of the ZA domain. We hope and trust that the honorable committee will seek guidance from our commentary, and will regard it as advice from experts who have actively participated in the local DNS for many years. Full submission >>
  • Cell C (Pty) Limited
  • Electronic Commerce Association of South Africa
  • JSE Securities Exchange South Africa
  • M-Cell Limited
  • MIH Group