By Andrew Allison: Head of Regulatory Affairs Council
The significant increase in regulatory activity, which we saw in 2015, continued and accelerated into 2016, and looks set to keep us busy through the next couple of years. The Government seems to have recently come alive to the pitfalls and perils of a South African digital “Wild, Wild West”, with which it now seems preoccupied. The raft of new Bills and rumblings from Pretoria are fixated on perceived failings of the Internet and – sadly – not focused on harnessing the opportunities it presents and on championing innovation and technology.
On a more positive note, there has been an undeniable mobilisation of civil society in response to the threat of increased regulation, and this can never be a bad thing. In the broader marketing, publishing and technology sectors, industry associations and self-regulatory bodies have jostled to align with each other, to engage with government and to re-evaluate their own internal workings. Concessions have been made from both sides. It is still difficult to predict how favourable the outcome will be – and for whom – but we have made big strides this far, and have no plans to slow down.