PNG social media policy fears unfounded, says PFF
The co-chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum says fears about a proposed cyber crime policy in PNG are unfounded.
The Pacific Freedom Forum says fears about the Papua New Guinea government's proposed cyber crime policy are unfounded, and the forum working closely with cabinet to ensure freedom of expression remains.
Some bloggers and other internet users are concerned the policy could go too far in policing social media, and be used to block criticism of the government.
But the co-chair of the forum, Titi Gabi, told Jamie Tahana that there is a need for these laws.
Titi Gabi : I am aware as a Papua New Guinean that a submission is now before cabinet but the full details, along with what it will target and how it will deal with those, is yet to be made known to us. But there is concern from both sides, especially for Papua New Guineans who use social media. One concern is of course that it will encroach on media freedom, number two is, we've had probably an overdose of experience on how people are using that avenue to handle and deal with issues and people. Of course we wanna discuss openly issues affecting us but it doesn't make it right if we just get names and pictures and allegations without, you know the basic rules of ethics that we follow in newsrooms, and we've been really concerned with a lot of what I've seen since social media became popular and it's not surprising. What we have told the Prime Minister's media unit is that, 'OK we understand where you're coming from, you need to understand what our concerns will be, lets work together on this one.'
Jamie Tahana : And are you finding they're willing to work with you?
TG : Yes, they have been so far. Actually they've been very good. We've been able to exchange views and positions and have a little friendly go at each other and try to understand each other. We also network with those that have put the submissions together and so far, they've been fair, giving us a fair go. We sort of know generally what areas have pushed the PNG government into that. One area that's concerned it, which has resulted in this submission is the high number of stalking, and text messages and all that, abuses via phone and social media, there's been a lot of complaints, face names and pin names and stuff like that and all this intimidation and that's the one area that's pushed it. The other one is that we've got bloggers and blogs, doing their so-called investigative report and some have been reliable but they're yet to be verified, but they just do not show any names.
JT : Papua New Guinea already has defamation, stalking and laws such as this, what does this cover that's not already covered by the laws?
TG : Well, it's not working, it's not implemented, it's not enforced, and I don't know why that is in the case, but yeah.
JT : Would you say that the concerns by the internet community about a crackdown on freedom of speech and a way to shut down criticism of the government, are those fears unfounded would you say?
TG : Probably so, they're probably unfounded because we are in contact with government and we do tell them that hey, this is probably not the way to do it. What we've offered them is, let's do this together. Your way isn't always right, our way isn't always right but we can meet halfway somewhere. We do recognise and accept that issues to be dealt with may be separately from the big media thing and we do agree that there's some issues that need to be dealt with, and we wanna leave debate open and free, but lets do it responsibly.
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