PNG's proposed cyber crime policy sparks concerns
Some bloggers and other internet users in Papua New Guinea are concerned that a proposed cyber crime policy could go too far in policing activity on social media.
Some bloggers and other internet users in Papua New Guinea are concerned that a proposed cyber crime policy could go too far in policing activity on social media, and could be a move by the government to control social media.
But the government denies this, saying it's just PNG law catching up with the digital age.
Jamie Tahana reports.
The legal service manager for the National Information and Communication Technology Authority, or NICTA, Ian Mileng, says PNG has no laws around cyber crime to cover things like spam, hacking, forgery or computer fraud and that needs to change. Mr Mileng says the policy also covers Papua New Guineans' activity on social media.
IAN MILENG: Anyone that is found disseminating or making slanderous comments, defamatory comments on Facebook or some other blog, they can be held accountable.
This has caused concern in some social media forums and among some bloggers about whether it could be used to block free speech. Martyn Namorong is the author of the prominent blog, the Namorong report, he announced that he was shutting down the blog on Thursday due to cases taken out against several people for allegedly defaming the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill. Mr Namorong says there is no mention of what kind of social media activity the policy covers, and suspects there could be a more sinister motive behind it.
MARTYN NAMORONG: The state have absolute control over mainstream media, both broadcast and print, and social media is essentially Papua New Guineans telling each other what's really, really happening in this country so they want to have some control over that.
PNG's opposition leader, Belden Namah, agrees, saying that Peter O'Neill needs to grow a thicker skin because as a public leader he should expect a lot of criticism and this new policy tries to stop that.
BELDEN NAMAH: My personal opinion is [that it's] encroaching into freedom of expression and freedom of speech and for a democracy like Papua New Guinea it is very dangerous and I don't think it's the best thing to do for the country.
But Ian Mileng says there is no intention to bar people from expressing their opinions on social media, and if someone's activity were to be monitored or gathered, the authorities would have to present a thorough case to internet service providers.
IAN MILENG: It doesn't say that we're trying to bar people [from] using Facebook or having access to internet, but essentially to provide some framework where ICT service providers are able to provide access to the internet [and] at the same time assist law enforcement in the event that there is an investigation.
Martyn Namorong says that while he supports the introduction of measures to control cyber crime, the reach of this policy goes too far.
MARTYN NAMORONG: Defamation's defamation and there is no argument about that, but presenting the facts, conversations about the facts and analysis of the facts that are there and what's happening in this country, I hope those conversations continue to happen online.
The policy is awaiting endorsement from the National Executive Council before it can be passed into law.
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