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Basil hints at Chinese model as Facebook faces PNG shutdown

Wechat FacebookKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The Post-Courier newspaper reports today that the Papua New Guinea government intends prevent access to Facebook for one month for so-called “research purposes”.

Communication minister Sam Basil has established no date for the shutdown, nor has he revealed how he will achieve it.

He has also not stated how the country will cope if access is prevented to the many substantive and legitimate sites that are used for day-to-day commercial, government, personal and emergency transactions in PNG.

Basil said his Communications and Information Technology Department and National Research Institute will conduct “research and analysis” of Facebook’s use, adding that his ministry was trying to enforce the 2016 Cyber Crime Act.

“The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed,” he told the Post-Courier.

“This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.

“What I’m trying to do is to ensure the law is enforced accordingly where perpetrators can be identified and charged accordingly.

“We cannot allow the abuse of Facebook to continue in the country.

“I will now work closely with the police for them to be properly trained and informed to fully enforce the Cyber Crime Act.”

Indicating that PNG may be contemplating echoing the closed Chinese approach, Basil said: “We can also look at the possibility of creating a new social network site for PNG citizens to use.”

China banned Facebook in 2009, later ousting other Western social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter to establish its own tightly controlled outlets.

The biggest and most popular is WeChat, a blend of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Skype where users get almost everything they need without ever having to leave the platform. It has nearly one billion users.

“If there need be then we can gather our local applications developers to create a site that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well,” Basil said.


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Leiao Gerega

After the report by the Post-Courier, the minister dispelled the report as 'rumour' saying it was taken 'out of context' and that he had not made any official announcement about a shutdown.

But our reporter maintains he was there when the minister said this.

The minister insisted it was "not official but just a discussion".

mathias kin

This is not fair for the little people who now will have no voice. Basil is O'Neill's mouth piece. He is doing what he has been instructed to do. How so much bad in my country. Basil is as corupt as Oneill and the rest.

Maclay Lamang

Facebook has been a platform where most politicians corrupt deeds are reported despite the monopolised mainstream media who seem to censor most of the news being published.

This current move by the government under Sam Basil as the Minister for Communication and Information Technology is totally an attempt to murder Freedom of Speech.

Francis Nii

There are more pressing legislative issue like ICAC and other issues like the LNG revenue, failed TFF education policy and the cash flow problem for Basil to worry about rather than hunting small people who use Facebook to express their views against leaders and their crimes.

Talk about ICAC and how to get rid of corruption involving millions of kina instead of suppressing rights and freedom of speech.

Whose interest is Basil pursuing?

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