Legislation, policy and regulation in the post-telecommunication era : the role of OTT service’s (WhatsApp) consumption and sense-making in the everyday lives of black-middle class employees of parliament of the Republic of South Africa.
Nene, Sandile Thabani Alphoes.
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The world has become increasingly “hyperconnected.” Hyperconnectivity refers not only to the means of communication and interaction, but it also brings people (and things) together from anywhere and at any time. In today’s world, citizens are increasingly sharing information via the so-called Over-the Top services (OTT) and virtual reality tools, rather than from the front porch. This hyperconnectivity has given rise to a globalised “168” world (24 × 7 = 168), where the work day continues around the clock. A plausible reason for the popularity of OTTs is that people no longer want to be passive ‘spectators’; instead, they want to be interactive, co-create content, discuss, modify usergenerated content and connect with organisations. The above illustrates that media culture provides the materials to create identities into which individuals insert themselves in contemporary techno-capitalist societies, and which is producing a new form of global culture. But media culture is also a high “techno-culture”, deploying the most advanced technologies that are of value to business or professional life. This study examines how black employees in Parliament interact and make sense of the text (WhatsApp) as an OTT service. An OTT is any application or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution. Services that come over the top are most typically related to media and communication and are generally, if not always, lower in cost than the traditional method of delivery. The research analyses how and why employees use and integrate WhatsApp into their everyday lives, asks what WhatsApp means to these employees, and questions whether the use of WhatsApp is prohibited by policies of the institution or whether its usage has been ‘naturalised’. The study also looks at the key provisions of Constitution of Republic of South Africa, relevant laws and policies governing the ICT ecosystem; how the sector has evolved and is regulated and managed as well as significant policy and regulatory debates which have emerged since the introduction of OTT services.