Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2002-10-07 Reporter: Dene Smuts Editor:

Parliamentary Transcripts Flawed and Unusable


Publication  Business Day 
Date 2002-10-07
Reporter Dene Smuts
Web Link


Dear Sir,

Like defence contractor Richard Young, I have requested transcripts of certain parliamentary committee hearings, Arms deal transcripts "badly flawed" (October 3), and like him, have found them unusable.

The subject under discussion was the limitation of liability carried by internet service providers, and a chapter in the then Electronic Communication and Transactions Bill taken verbatim from the European Union with the exception of a requirement that the service providers adopt codes of conduct and have themselves registered.

The transcript reads:

"Ms Smarts: In Europe one of the principles is that they must be know prior authorisation it does not allow its member states to require prior authorisation of the service providers before they liability is limited. We have drawn very heavily on Europe, but in actual provision. We are diverting.

"Interjection: can I say this thing Ms Smarts this thing of you talking about Europe all the time is actually a pain. It is a pain, because what we are simply doing you are simply saying there is Europe out there Europe is perfect, Europe is ok lets do what Europe does...

"Name: (unidentified) ... we are writing internet law the internet law is not limited to any countries is a nonsense argument with respect that we will legislate only for South Africa. The reason why we look at the ... trial which I ... more often than the EU it makes sense to model on the international laws. You can make laws for SA, because blur in the face if they do not like the universal laws to through internet it would not work. The virtual world is international that is what we legislating for and I find your refences insulting in the way they were touched."

Soon after another unidentified member said:

"Name: ... I do not think what the honorable member was doing here was speaking our work here. I think she was some proper gander stand for her own purposes."

I had asked the director-general whether conflicting provisions in the SITA Bill and the ECT Bill with respect to databases indicated a turf battle at executive level. This he answered conclusively by indicating that he was in fact on the Sita board and on the board committee that had drafted the Sita bill.

There are capacity problems and the challenge of multilingualism must never be underestimated: not for nothing is translation one of the biggest budget items at the European parliament where the training requirements are so stringent it will take us decades to match them. Regrettably it is unlikely the situation will be rectified at once.

Refer to Article: Arms Deal Transcripts Badly Flawed   ***

With acknowledgements to Dene Smuts and Business Day.