Facebook ban

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Government reacts to public criticism

By EDDIE OSIFELO

THE Sogavare-led government is being accused of “dictatorial leadership” after Cabinet agreed on Monday to ban Facebook.

Citizens, especially those who use FB to promote their businesses, engage in discussion, communicate and sharing were stunned to see the direction government is taking to ban FB.

Minister of Communication and Aviation, Peter Shanel Agovaka says Cabinet took the decision following the barrage of criticisms levelled against Government ministers and the Prime Minister which are ‘highly defamatory and character assassination’.

Agovaka said the temporary ban is necessary because there is no law to regulate Facebook in the country.

One citizen said this should not happen but if it happens then this is a show of dictatorship.

Telecommunication Commission Solomon Islands is highly likely to bow down to Government’s decision to temporary ban Facebook in the country.

An insider in TCSI told Island Sun eventhough it is a regulator, it has no teeth to bite because the Government still controls it.

“We are just like any other State-Owned Enterprise which the government controls.

“Even though we are governed by an Act of Parliament, but still the government controls us,” insider said.

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Chairman of Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee and member of Opposition, Peter Kenilorea Junior told the Guardian the ban on Facebook was a “direct and brazen assault on the freedom of expression” guaranteed by the Solomons’ constitution.

“Reports of a ban or suspension of FB is a grave concern for Solomon Islands, a democratic country. Cabinet is now strangling the very right it should be upholding. This decision should be condemned by all freedom-loving Solomon Islanders.”

Kenilorea Jnr said the proposed ban is an attempt by the government to shield itself from criticism and accountability. “As leaders, we… need to be held accountable by the electorate that place us in positions of power. We need to face the music from time to time. This is democracy.”

Two service providers, Our Telekom and Bmobile have decided to remain silent over the issues based on their privacy laws.

It is still not sure when the ban will come into full force.

In the Pacific, Papua New Guinea was the first country that planned to ban Facebook for a month in 2018 in order to conduct research into issues like fake profiles, misinformation, and pornography.

The Tongan government moved to ban Facebook in 2019 following criticism levelled against the King.

Samoan government took steps to ban Facebook in July 2020 as a result of criticisms against the Prime Minister and his government.

In the globe, China, North Korea and Iran have banned Facebook.

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