It will come into effect soon: Shanel
BY CHARLES KADAMANA
GOVERNMENT has maintained its decision to temporarily suspend access to Facebook while exploring ways to regulate it.
This was officially confirmed by Minister of Communication and Aviation Peter Shanel Agovaka in a press conference at Paul Tovua complex yesterday.
He said the timeline as to when it will come into effect will base on recommendation from Cybersecurity and Information Security Working group.
“Once we receive the advice, we will come on air to announce it,” he said.
The working group comprises of Attorney General’s chamber, Government ICT team, Ministry of Communication and Aviation and the Prime Minister’s office.
Shanel highlighted that the government has always held the position that the unregulated use of Facebook in the country is a potential threat to the public security, public safety, and public morality.
Some of the reasons Minister Agovaka used to justify the temporary suspension of Facebook are;
1. Facebook is a platform for misinformation
2. Facebook incites violence and hatred towards leaders
3. Facebook being used for Racial abuse and bullying
4. Facebook being used for Discrimination
5. Facebook minority users have negatively affected the majority
6. Facebook advance unlawful activities.
He said having seriously considered these the government decided to temporarily suspend Facebook in the country.
He said this will allow policy and law makers to explore ways to regulate its use so that individuals can be held accountable for what they say in the social media platform.
He said this will ensure that those administer pages are also accountable for the comments and postings of others on their forums or chat groups.
He said the temporary suspension will be lifted after the passage and implementation of legislation requiring the compulsory registration of all sim cards.
He said his ministry is now nearing the completion of a draft bill to amend the Telecommunication Act requiring the compulsory registration of all sim card.
“This is a step towards ensuring that persons using telecommunication services can be held accountable for their actions.
“Sim registration is vital component of telecommunication in the digital era.
“The re-opening of Facebook will be considered after the passage and implementation of this legislation or if circumstances change,” he said.
In a case where Facebook users bypass the restriction during the temporary suspension period the government will seek legal advice from the Attorney General.
He also explains that Facebook throughout the world ride on the spectrum of telecommunication operators.
“For us in Solomon Islands Facebook and other social media platform ride on the spectrum of Telekom so in a sense they don’t have frequency license.
He said the other thing is Facebook don’t have business licence, it is operating out of legality business of our country.
He added that the government also find it difficult to tax Facebook because they use our airspace and these are some of the technical issues the public need to know.
In terms of how the suspension will affects the fundamental rights and freedoms he said the fundamental rights and freedoms are not absolute.
He said the constitution while recognizing that freedom of expression also provides that this freedom must not be used among others, defame others and incites hatred.