Mixed signals from PNG govt over Facebook plan

3:47 pm on 30 May 2018

It remains unclear whether Papua New Guinea's government plans to shut down Facebook for a month.

Yesterday local media reported that the Communications and Information Technology Ministry was seeking a temporary shutdown on the social media platform.

A file photo of the Facebook logo on a desktop computer

Photo: 123RF

The minister, Sam Basil, was reported by the Post Courier as saying a shutdown could allow his department and the National Research Institute to analyse Facebook use.

Mr Basil distanced himself from the newspaper report, merely referring to his previous public statement from last month about applying scrutiny to how Facebook is used in PNG.

His statement, dated April 17, did not mention a plan to shut down the platform.

The minister had not denied that the plan was on the table.

Sources close to the government suggested a temporary shutdown had been considered.

During a caucus meeting last week, the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, indicated his government would not enforce a permanent ban, but wanted to make Facebook more accountable due to concerns over proliferation of misinformation and false news.

In his April 17 statement, Mr Basil emphasised the need to address the vulnerabilities that Papua New Guinea citizens and residents face on their personal data and exchanges when using Facebook as well as other social networks.

"My directives to my line agencies is to provide me with a brief covering both the advantages and disadvantages of use of Facebook, the vulnerabilities that include not just the protection of personal data, but wider social issues like security and safety of users, the time-consumption and productivity of users (especially school-age children and employees), and of course the wider issue of cybersecurity and cybercrime," Mr Basil said in his statement.

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PNG Minister, Sam Basil Photo: Supplied

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