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IAB takes on SA censors

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has engaged the Film and Publications Board (FPB) with regards the latter’s recently gazetted Draft Online Regulation Policy and has met with FPB CEO, Themba Wakashe, to discuss the IAB’s concerns.

The Draft Policy, as currently tabled, has potentially far-reaching implications for free speech in South Africa, and doesn’t address a large number of operational challenges the FPB will face in attempting to implement and enforce it against the backdrop of an increasingly digitally-enabled and –active population.

The FPB’s policy has attracted criticism and controversy, with a number of commentators calling into question its constitutionality, lawfulness and practicality.  At its core, the policy requires the pre-classification, prior to publication, of any “film, game or certain publication” according to the FPB’s guidelines, and explicitly includes within its scope user-generated content distributed via social media platforms. The definitions of “film” and “certain publication” are broad enough to cover video or content in almost any form (including news and current affairs content).

The FPB has further purported to grant itself vague and extensive censorship powers via a provision that requires that, “with regard to any other content distributed online, the Board shall have the power to order an administrator of any online platform to take down any content that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing to children of certain ages”.

Anyone who publishes – or facilitates the publication of – content, be it Google, Apple and Facebook, South Africa’s ISPs and news media, and even individual bloggers and small businesses operating from bedrooms and basements, stands to be caught in the FPB’s wide net.

The IAB is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the growth of digital business in South Africa, and represents over 200 of the country’s largest and most influential online publishers, brands, digital advertising and media agencies, and educational institutions, all of whom create and publish content in some form or another. Notable members include Google, Vodacom, Nedbank, Woolworths, OLX, takealot.com, the 24 Group, Mail and Guardian, eTV, eNCA, BBC, SABC Online, Independent Online, Times Media, Kagiso Media and Caxton. The Draft Policy threatens not only the individual freedom of expression currently enjoyed by digitally-active South African businesses, but also poses an obstacle to the growth and health of the country’s burgeoning online industry.

“We absolutely share some of the FPB’s concerns relating to unfettered access of children to harmful and dangerous content on the internet”, says Andrew Allison, Head of Regulatory Affairs at the IAB, “but we disagree with the manner in which the FPB is proposing to address this. The overwhelming majority of content disseminated via digital media is not harmful, and the mechanisms contained in the Draft Policy are unduly onerous and excessive”.

The IAB will be making formal submissions to the FPB regarding the Draft Policy before the given deadline of 15 July 2015.

Allison adds, “Notwithstanding our issues with the Draft Policy, we have expressed our willingness to cooperate with the FPB in addressing our shared concerns, and are committed to working with them, and with other stakeholders and interest groups, to develop workable, fair and constitutionally-sound solutions”.

Since 2014, the IAB has been working with the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and Press Council on a proposed revision of the Press Code and upgrades to the current Press Council to create a voluntary, self-regulatory body that will promote and demand high standards and quality of editorial content from local publishers, irrespective of the medium (print, online or otherwise) via which it is communicated.

Allison concludes, “We believe that this augmented Council will responsibly and properly address the majority of concerns that the FPB’s Draft Policy is trying to tackle. As a collective of industry players across various sectors, we know that we are best placed and equipped to deliver a standard of content in South Africa that fairly balances our constitutionally-enshrined freedom of expression with our shared desire to protect our children from harmful material”.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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