Writing for Global Voices

I’ve started writing for Global Voices. My first post is about the Donn Edwards libel case. I really enjoyed reading the different perceptions by bloggers about the case – it’s great to look out more than in for a change.

Most importantly, I’m wanting to help set up a more permanent home for bloggers to monitor freedom of expression cases in SA. We’ve learned some great lessons from this case, but until a case like this goes to court, there will be many more acts of intimidation against bloggers in the future. Anyone interested? Please email me or comment below.

Update 14 January 09 from Donn Edwards on his Facebook support group page:

‘Hello everyone, the case has been SETTLED in a way that benefits everyone. The settlement is amicable and we had a meeting at the Protea Hotel in Midrand over breakfast and coffee. All parties win, and I thank you all for your support. I have made some new friendships through this ordeal, and it is good to know that the ordeal is over.’

Opt out register a hit

I’m doing some research on defamation cases against bloggers in light of the blogger Donn Edwards being sued by Quality Vacation Club for complaining about the lack of transparency in the company’s direct marketing efforts, and have found a great resource in the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa‘s ‘opt out’ register. According to the DMA, the service enables consumers ‘to have their details removed from mailing lists used by marketers to promote goods and services’.

I’ve complained consistently to companies who call or SMS me about where they get my details, so I really hope that this works. It’s really simple to do, just go to this link on the DMA’s website and add your details.

I know that the Electronic Commerce and Transactions Act enables people to send communications to individuals but that there must be an opportunity to opt-out of further communication. We really need to put pressure on companies to implement opt-out instructions on SMSs and emails because it seems that so many are not. I also found this great email to send to companies who send unsolicited mail on internet.org.za:

On [insert date here], I received the following message from you:

| Blah, blah, blah

Since this is a commercial message, and since I have not requested to
be placed on your mailing list, this message constitutes an unsolicited
communication in terms of section 45 of the Electronic Communications
and Transactions Act (Act 25 of 2002).

In terms of section 45(4) of this Act, this message serves as
notification that I do not wish to receive any further communications
from you. Failure to comply with this request constitutes a criminal
offence in terms of the ECT Act.

Additionally, I hereby request that you immediately disclose where you
obtained my contact details, as per section 45(1) of the ECT Act.
Failure to respond to this request also constitutes a criminal offence.

 [ Optional paragraph:
 I note that your original message did not provide me with an option to
 cancel my subscription to your mailing list, as required by section 45(1)
 of the Act. This means that you may already have committed an offence
 in terms of section 45(3) of the Act, and may be subject to prosecution.

Should you wish to familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation,
or check my facts, a copy of the ECT Act is available on-line via the
Government's web site: http://www.gov.za/gazette/acts/2002/a25-02.pdf.

Your co-operation in this matter will be appreciated,