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LESOTHO MOVES CLOSER TO REGULATING ONLINE CONTENT

By Staff Writers

Maseru, Oct 02 (The Night’s Watch) – Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) intends to promulgate internet broadcasting rules which will allow it to mandate all online content providers with more than 100 followers to obtain licences, which will then supervise the content put out by the providers.

LCA this week published draft rules for consultation and invited the public and stakeholders to submit comments on the proposed promulgation of the internet broadcasting rules.

The proposed rules identify internet posts by users who have more than 100 followers in Lesotho and internet posts accessible to at least 100 internet users in Lesotho, whether individually or in a series, as internet broadcasting.

Internet post mean any message, whether text, picture, video or audio that is placed or uploaded on any internet platform to be accessed by the public, be it on social media or website.

The proposed rules will require a person who conducts internet broadcasting to register with LCA by providing identity documents or documents of incorporation in the case of juristic persons, proof of residence or place of business and ability to comply with Lesotho Telecommunications Authority (Broadcasting) Rules of 2004.

LCA will then issue a certificate of registration where the above-stated conditions have been met.

“Provisions on broadcasting principles and standards applicable to broadcasting licensees under the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority (Broadcasting) Rules of 2004 or any subsequent subsidiary legislation shall, to the extent possible with necessary changes, apply to persons registered in terms of these regulations,” reads section 4 of the regulations.

A person conducting internet broadcasting at the commencement of the regulations will be expected to register within six months thereof. LCA will have powers to notify the public of any person who fails to register within six months after the commencement of the regulations.

The draft rules empower LCA to at any time, investigate whether internet broadcasting complies with the rules upon receiving a complaint from affected party, or of its own accord.

Where LCA concludes that the internet post does not comply with the provisions of the Lesotho Telecommunications (Broadcasting) Rules of 2004, it may direct of facilitate that such internet post be removed from the internet and where appropriate publish the name of the person responsible for the contravention.

Cost related to the removal of the non-compliant internet post from the internet shall be borne by the person requesting such removal.

LCA is a statutory body, established in June 2000, with the mandate of regulating the communications sector in Lesotho. This mandate entails, among others, promoting fair competition, approving tariffs and granting licences to operators. NW

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