9th April 2020
Minister for Information & Communication Technology, Hon. Timothy Masiu today instructed the National Information and Communications Authority (NICTA) to identify and prosecute persons abusing social media especially now in the COVID-19 State of Emergency period.
Minister Masiu gave the instructions this morning following a warning by the SOE Controller David Manning that persons giving false and misleading information on social media are breaking the law and orders of the State of Emergency and will be arrested.
Minister Masiu said there is a substantial increase in the abuse of social media during this period and the government will not hesitate to clamp down and use the law to identify, arrest and prosecute people involved in deliberate use of social media to mislead, create disharmony and leak confidential government information or disseminate false information.
“I have given instructions for NICTA to meet with mobile phone operators and with Facebook and work out options to manage this abuse. We do not want to restrict freedom of speech, however we would like to emphasize on responsibility in what we make public and also in expression of views and when we are facing a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes very important that we do not create unnecessary anxiety amongst our people.”
He said NICTA has met with mobile phone operators today and will recommend the way forward and warned those abusing social media that it has now become very necessary to prosecute people.
Minister Masiu said that two officers of the government telecommunication companies are under investigation and may become the first to be ‘taught a lesson’ as an example to others who think they can hide under false names and escape technology and the full force of the law.