ICASA Amendment Act, 2014

Posted by LA Thornton on Friday, May 30, 2014
On 7 April 2014, the President assented to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Amendment Act, 2014 (ICASA Amendment Act).  It came into operation 10 May 2014.  Some of the provisions that are noteworthy include the following.

Extended scope of ICASA - Electronic Transactions

ICASA regulates the electronic communications industries, including telecommunications and broadcasting.  In 2006, its role was expanded to postal matters.  The Amendment Act again expands the role of ICASA to deal with electronic transactions in terms of the Electronic Transactions Act.

Penalties and Remedies in respect of Regulations and Licence Conditions

ICASA is now required, when it drafts regulations and sets out licence conditions, to determine penalties and remedies that are appropriate for the offence of contravening regulations and licence conditions.

Inquiry Processes - new clarity

The provisions regarding inquiries prior to the Amendment Act required ICASA either to allow at least 60 days for written comment or no more than 60 days.  It was unclear.  The Amendment Act makes clear that ICASA must allow at least 45 days for written comment and that the 45 days may be extended.  ICASA must make and publish its findings within 90 days (rather than the previous 180 days).

Inquiries and concurrent jurisdiction - new confusion

Two new provisions regarding concurrent jurisdiction within the section of the ICASA Act on inquiries have been added.  They require ICASA to “consider” if it would be appropriate to refer an inquiry to another authority, and “bear in mind” that the Competition Commission has primary jurisdiction in respect of restrictive practices and mergers. 
In addition, subject to a concurrent jurisdiction agreement, ICASA may not “take any action where a matter” is being dealt with by another authority.

Councillors may now occupy positions that interfere with their functions or create a conflict?

The ICASA Act prohibits councillors from holding other remunerative positions that are likely to interfere with the exercise of their functions or create a conflict of interest.  The Amendment Act states that this does not apply if
1. A councillor occupies office as a member of a public interest organisation and performs concomitant tasks for which a honorarium is paid,
Incidental gifts for attendance at a conference or public lecture,
Work which reasonably may be considered to advance the work of ICASA.
So now a councillor may occupy a position in a public interest organisation even if it causes a conflict or interferes with the exercise of the councillor’s functions as a councillor? 

Council meetings

The Amendment Act requires council to meet at least once a month.  The minutes must be signed, confirmed and published on ICASA’s website and made available in the library within 30 days.

Annual Report

Previously, ICASA’s annual report was to be submitted to the Minister who in turn submitted it to Parliament.  Now, the CEO will submit the annual report to Parliament.

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