PNG Communication Minister clarify facebook shutdown

Papua New Guinea Minister responsible for Communications, Information Technology and Energy Samuel Basil. Picture: POST COURIER

PORT MORESBY, 30 MAY 2018 (POST COURIER) – Papua New Guinea Minister responsible for Communications, Information Technology and Energy Samuel Basil has clarified his stance on the Facebook matter.

The suggested shutdown of Facebook for a month was just one option the Minister is looking at as a means to research, collect and compile information that will assist him in making informed decisions and take measures to safeguard the privacy of the many Facebook users in PNG.

“As a Minister in the O’Neill Government, I need to take informed and appropriate action on behalf of PNG citizens and residents using Facebook and other IT social networks,” he said.

“I am aware that Facebook use in PNG is not limited to personal chats and blogs. It is also used as a forum for advertising by individuals, organisations both public and private sector to post and download public notices, position vacancies and job searches, real estates and other commercial activities.

“My directives to my line agencies is to provide me with a brief covering both the advantages and disadvantages of use of Facebook, the vulnerabilities that includes not just the protection of personal data, but wider social issues like security and safety of users, the time-consumption and productivity of users – especially school-age children and employees, and of course the wider issue of cybersecurity and cybercrime.

“I also want to know what other countries have done in relation to Facebook and other social networks – and the consequential effect or impact. Based on this brief, and the regulatory powers based on relevant laws of ICT, I will consider relevant – and responsible – government action.

“The brief I require will also include the issue of unidentified Facebook users using false IDs to commit cybercrimes including defamation, fake news, pornographic and other illicit materials which is behind the SIM Card Registration.”

He said Facebook came to PNG unchecked and the government never had the chance to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of this social platform.

“Facebook, as a social network, came into Papua New Guinea riding on the infrastructure of telecommunications and IT service providers,” Basil said.

“The National Government, swept along by IT globalisation, never really had the chance to ascertain the advantages and disadvantages – and even educate and provide guidance on use of social networks like Facebook to PNG users,” he said.