ISPs Play Their Part in the Struggle Against GBVPublished on: 2023-12-14
As operators of South Africa’s electronic communications networks, the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) are playing a key supporting role in combating gender-based violence (GBV).
Like everyone else, ISPs are bound by the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act. They do, however, support the judicial and law enforcement authorities’ war on GBV by prioritising requests made in terms of the Domestic Violence Act and Protection from Harassment Act.
“As yet another 16 Days of Activism fades into memory and South Africa grapples with ways to extend the struggle against gender violence to a year-long campaign, it’s reassuring to note the regular contribution of the country’s ISPs to the battle against GBV,” says ISPA chairperson, Sasha Booth-Beharilal.
She notes ISPs act with vigour and without charging the mandated tariff when, for example, receiving a notice from the clerk of the court to provide information regarding an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence.
Furthermore, in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act, ISPA’s members speedily provide the details of alleged harassers to the courts when requested.
ISPA members will likewise expeditiously take-down any online material relating to domestic violence when notified by the courts. Recent amendments to the Domestic Violence Act require ISPs to take down online material forming part of the domestic violence and to provide information about alleged perpetrators.
“ISPs are always required to ensure that any collection and processing of personal information is lawfully done in accordance with POPIA’s provisions. This clear fact notwithstanding, ISPs have certain obligations in terms of anti-GBV legislation and will continue to act speedily and professionally in terms of prioritising requests made in terms of the Domestic Violence Act, Protection from Harassment Act and the Maintenance Act,” concludes Booth-Beharilal.
Finally, under the Cybercrimes Act and other legislation, it must be emphasised that ISPs are not required to actively monitor the data which they transmit or store, or to actively seek facts or circumstances indicating an alleged unlawful activity.
Links to useful resources:
Women’s Legal Centre Simplified Guide to the Protection from Harassment Act – https://wlce.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Protection-from-Harassment-Act-Booklet.pdf
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development website on domestic violence – https://www.justice.gov.za/vg/dv.html
For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.