On 26 March 2020, the South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies issued directions under regulation 10(8) of the Regulations made under the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. The directions indicate that its key purpose is to facilitate the availability and use of digital technologies to combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
Here are five key aspects of the directions that bear highlighting:
- Fake news: Electronic communications services licensees, over-the-top services and internet service providers bear the responsibility to remove fake news related to COVID-19 from their platforms immediately after identified as such.
- Access to the internet: All service providers of electronic communications networks and services must ensure continued service provision.
- Spectrum: To the extent possible, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) must relax spectrum regulations to enable the temporary licensing of all available spectrum bands, including the unassigned high demand spectrum, for the duration of the COVID-19 national disaster.
- Location-based data: The electronic communication network service (ECNS) and electronic communication service (ECS) licensees, as well as the internet and digital sector in general, must provide location-based services in collaboration with the relevant authorities identified to support designated departments to assist and combat the spread of COVID-19.
- Price increases and portability: All licensed entities must not effect any price increases and not perform mobile number portability for the duration of the COVID-19 national disaster.
The directions are accessible here: COVID-19 Electronic Communications, Postal and Broadcasting Directions issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act (26 March 2020)
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].