Deconstructing the paradoxes of South Africa's emerging discourse and framework on ICTs and internet governance

SOURCE: Internet governance in the global south: theory, history, and contemporary debates
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Darch, R.Adams, Y.Ke
DEPARTMENT: Impact Centre (IC), Impact Centre (PRESS), Impact Centre (CC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10711
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/13473

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This chapter examines the development of the White Paper, setting this within a historical framework of ICT policies in South Africa, before critiquing the new policy positions against recent developments within the ICT sector in the country. Critically, we argue that there are a number of paradoxes at play within South Africa's rhetoric on Internet governance - as captured in the White Paper. Indeed, we note that while the White Paper discusses the Internet as a basic right, the country has spoken about the limitations of online rights at international fora. Moreover, we identify that the South African state is re-performing the very critiques it levels against the global system of Internet governance in the White Paper within its own borders. So, while South Africa criticises the lack of state influence - or multilateralism - and the lack of transparency within global Internet governance, it has subsequently failed to promote participation and transparency within its own policy-making processes. The last section of this chapter examines two recent developments - the blocking of cell phone signal during a presidential Parliamentary address in 2015 and the draft Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity bill - against the notion of the 'Open Internet' promoted as a 'core philosophy' of the White Paper. From these developments, what can be discerned is a State which in fact sees control of social media and other channels of communication as fundamental to political stability.