South Africa, 01 October 2015: The South African Film and Publications Board (FPB), in collaboration with International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE),will host the first African Media Content Classification and Online Child Protection Conference from 11 – 14 October 2015 at the Misty Hills Country Hotel and Conference Centre. The conference will examine issues surrounding cyber safety, child protection and content classification from an African perspective, and will host delegates from South Africa and other countries in the SADC region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The conference will seek to assess the growth potential of content distribution in Africa, as well as exploring risks in the area of child protection. It will draw lessons from international precedent, and will look at South African research and interventions that have yielded positive results to date.

Content at the conference will be of great interest to child development specialists, government communication departments in Africa, media regulatory bodies, cyber safety specialists, and media specialists.

“Through this conference, the FPB seeks to harmonize interventions in South Africa and the SADC region that respond to protecting children across online platforms,” says Mr Themba P. Wakashe, chief executive officer of the FPB. This is in line with our mandate as described by the Film and Publications Act no 65 of 1996, which tasks us with regulating the creation, production, possession and distribution of content by means of classification, including the imposition of age restrictions, offering consumer advice, as well as preventing the exploitation of children in pornographic publications, films or on the internet.”

The first day of conference proceedings on 12 October 2015 is themed ‘Stolen innocence: how to protect children in the digital age’, to be opened with a keynote address by the Minister of Communications, the Honourable Faith Muthambi.

Expert speakers on the day will be led with an address by Sir John Carr OBE, who is a global authority on young people’s use of the internet. He is technical adviser to End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes International, expert adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, and the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety. The day will end with two round tables, chronicling the FPB’s work in evolving from a censorship body to one that regulates content with the interests of South Africa’s youth at heart.

The second day’s theme is ‘Africa’s digital boom: a focus on Africa’s ICT growth potential’. Speakers will include Dr Indra De Lanerolle of the Wits Link Centre, Ebele Okobi Head of Public Policy at Facebook, Prof Carel van Aardt of Uiversity of South Africa MBR, and Lulamile Mohapi of Phila Interactive. Panel discussions during the afternoon will interrogate and address child trafficking, child exploitation, online child protection, and the security and privacy of personal data.

The final day will discuss content classification in Africa, with a balance between determining African values in media representation and classification, along with learnings from the FPB’s colleagues in similar organisations abroad. The final panel discussion of the conference will include delegates from select SADC countries, where they will examine content classification in Africa.

Those interested in attending the first African Media Content Classification and Online Child Protection Conference should register online or contact Obakeng Maimane on fbpconference@fpb.org.za

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