Malawi Censorship Board has said it does not censor material on the internet because it is not mandated to do so adding that the Board regulates films, public entertainment and publications; and does not include regulating internet content.
This was disclosed by Deputy Director of Culture, Chrissy Chiumia in an interview with Nyasa Times.
“The mandate of the Board is to regulate films, public entertainment and publications; and does not include regulating internet content.
“Regulating content on the internet is more than censorship. The issue requires separate legal framework and of course the direct involvement of the internet service providers,” explained Chiumia.
She further said as a board they cannot just jump into matters that are not clearly provided by the law.
“The challenge is that sensitive material is left uncensored, and our calling is to operate within the mandate of the Censorship Act,” she said.
She also explained that consultations on the review of the Censorship act reflected on this issue but the consensus was that regulating content on the internet would better be under the Communications Act.
“It is from that background that the issue has evolved to the E Legislation Bill which, among other important matters, seeks to regulate content on the internet,” she elaborated.
Chiumia also pointed out some of the challenges that the board is facing.
“Our major setback is limited funds available. This makes it impossible to effectively run all the four major technical programs of this office. That is, regulating films, regulating public film theatres and other types of entertainment facilities, law enforcement against pornography, and research and civic education,” she explained.
Under the late dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda, anything from books to music, and films were rigorously censored.
Scenes in films depicting kissing were cut off and books, like Animal Farm by George Orwell, deemed revolutionary, were banned under Banda.