Press Release:

Protect Learners Online by Stepping it Up at the Right Time

Published on: 2023-07-19

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Enhancing learner online safety this new school term is about adopting a progressively protective approach.

That’s according to South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) which says online threats to the country’s school children are real, but can be mitigated by parents taking progressive action in the face of potential danger.

ISPA chair, Sasha Booth-Beharilal says: “With access to information, comes the risk of learners being exposed to harmful content and equally harmful predators and cyberbullies.”

When it comes to cyberbullying, it’s important for parents to advise their children not to respond and not to retaliate, either online or in person. Instead, children should alert parents to the harmful content.

The appropriate action must be for parents to save the evidence and then to take decisive action as bullying behaviour can easily escalate.

First and foremost, use preferences or privacy tools to block the bully. Secondly, report abusive comments to administrators. Thirdly, and in the face of escalating bullying behaviour, parents and schools should always remember a crime remains a crime, regardless of the online or real-world environment in which it takes place.

Crimes must be reported to the nearest SAPS station and alleged cybercrimes should be forwarded to the SAPS Cybercrime Division.

In addition, any parent or person who suspects illegal online activity has a powerful tool in the form of ISPA’s Take-Down Notice (TDN) procedure.

Unlawful content that infringes on personal rights such as harassment or hate speech, and that is also being unknowingly hosted by an ISPA member, can be subject to a formal TDN request in terms of the Electronic Communications & Transactions Act, 2002. Copyright and trademark infringements and websites with security issues can also be the subject of TDNs.

ISPA’s role does not include making an assessment of the legal claims of the person lodging the take-down. ISPA only verifies that sufficient information has been provided to make the take-down a valid one.

More than 95% of all valid take-down notices result in the removal of the relevant content, usually within 48 hours. In 2022, the take-down process was used to remove more than 200 harmful or problematic websites from the South African Internet.

Under section 77(2) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, any person who lodges a notification of unlawful activity knowing that it misrepresents the facts, is liable for damages for wrongful take-down.

ISPA maintains a Cyber Safety Resources page here:

To lodge a TDN, please visit:

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.