ICASA Amendment Bill Published for Comment

Department of Communications

The department of communications has published the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Amendment Bill for public comment in Government Gazette 35901.

The purpose of the proposed bill is to:
•    Clarify the powers and duties of the independent communications authority of South Africa (ICASA).
•    Improve ICASA’s efficiency and to conform more closely to the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 ("PFMA").
•    To provide for the establishment of the complaints and compliance commission (CCC) to replace the complaints and compliance committee.
•    To confirm the use of electronic communications networks and services for the purpose of electronic transactions.
•    To introduce mechanisms to ensure the accountability of committees, ICASA and their councillors.

It is noted in the proposed bill’s preamble that “recognising that the success of electronic commerce must be underpinned by appropriate regulation of broadcasting, electronic communications and electronic communications networks.”

The proposed bill’s memorandum explains that in the intervening period prior to the development of a comprehensive ICT sector policy, certain amendments are necessary and appropriate in relation to both the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 ("ECA") and ICASA Act.

The memorandum also states that “the importance of an independent and impartial regulator for the communications sector cannot be overstated.”

Amendments affecting ICASA have therefore been made to entrench this independence in terms of the South African constitution; considering both financial and administrative independence.

The CCC has also been constituted as a separate body from ICASA in the pursuit of independence.

The proposed bill deals with the following structural and substantial issues:
    Structural issues:
•    ICASA Council
•    ICASA’s independence
•    policy directions
•    the CCC
    Substantial issues:
•    sanctions and penalties
•    Regulatory Impact Assessments ("RIA")
•    competition
•    postal services
•    liability

Written comments on the proposed amendment bill should be submitted within 30 working days of the date of publication (23 November 2012).

Sabinet Cape Town Office

Related legislation: