Earlier this year, the Law Reform Commission of South Africa proposed that internet service providers block all pornographic content from local shores and abroad.

The reasoning behind this is – as with many things – is to protect children from stumbling upon something they probably shouldn’t see.

Banning porn is not new, a number of countries have tried to block adult content, mostly recently the UK. The common thread however is that all countries which have tried, have failed to ban adult content.

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) chairperson, Andre van der Walt, says that banning porn in the country would be a bad idea.

“We risk being sent down a slippery slope when we are just shaking off the effects of the previous administration’s stealthy attacks on freedom of expression,” says van der Walt.

“Blocking all adult content by default to protect children is an unimaginative approach when little else has been properly explored. South Africa needs targeted solutions that won’t morph into a generalised Internet clampdown when it suits later governments,” explains the chairperson.

It’s not that ISPA doesn’t care about kids stumbling across porn online. In fact, the association told the Law Reform Commission in comments on the proposal that alternatives to a blanket ban on porn should be considered.

ISPA also notes that technical approaches to bans and content filtering are “ineffectual and easily circumvented”.

The ISPA chairperson says that in order for ISPs to block content, that content would have to be illegal and as it stands, porn is not illegal in South Africa.

“ISPA is firmly of the view that any Internet blocking or filtering obligations that might past legal muster in the future should be aimed squarely at the content provider, not the intermediary. Internet intermediaries like ISPA’s ISP members are currently regarded as ‘mere conduits’ in South African law,” writes ISPA.

We’re glad to see an organisation such as ISPA fighting for our internet freedom locally, even if that is just the freedom to salute your privates.