The two dailies have come out today splashing on the front page the latest developments in ICT here in Papua New Guinea. This follows on from yesterday when the Post Courier featured the consequences should a person breach a provision of the NICT Act, in particular, sending content that’s false and content that’s indecent through social media, blogs, email and so forth. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram appear to be the target of this policy introduced by the statutory authority NICTA.
The “regulation” of ICT has been argued to be infringing freedom of speech and the fact that there are already defamation laws in place, questions have been raised as to what is the real intention of the policy.
Our Facebook fans didn’t take it well yesterday with our posting having shared 70 times and 50 plus comments on the post. Most of them decried this new policy.
Some called the policy “ridiculous” while others suggested that there could be a backlash in the form of more fake accounts being created thus defeating the purpose of controlling use of social media. Let’s see how things turn out and whether the goals of the policy are achieved.
The introduction of the policy however is probably not surprising to some simply because various blogs and Facebook groups have content that are definitely indecent. While every one has the right to free speech, some users have abused that right and have been irresponsible when practicing it. But are these policies warranted? Will these policies prohibit free speech and will investigations for potential breaches invade privacy laws?
More questions are how much the government will spend on the enforcement of these policies. The technical nature of ICT indicates that any measure isn’t going to be cheap. Will the cost outlay the benefits or vice versa?
If restricting freedom of speech and invasion of privacy isn’t enough, offenders could find themselves facing a fine of K20,000 or facing 3 years imprisonment. Serious consequences for sending false content or indecent content.
One of the concerns we have in respect of the introduction of this policy is that there are more important issues that NICTA should be looking at. Issues like high internet rates, slow speed, unnecessary charges by various operators and the list goes on. They could even consider use of mobile while driving that has the potential to cause very serious accidents including death.
In today’s papers, both dailies confirmed that the launching of the above policies have taken place and one of the policies clearly highlighted is that registration of a SIM card is now mandatory. As we understand it, any improper use (whatever that means) can be tracked by the agencies authorized to do the monitoring.
Things are about to get interesting and while all eyes are on the regulators on how they go about enforcing such policies, even more interesting is how users respond to such policies.