As time goes by, I am more and more thinking that I made the wrong choice when I decided to vote for lalliance lepep. They are showing their true colors now, just like any other politician in power. Although there’s no lack of examples, I will go straight-forward to today’s point.
The (acting?) Minister of Technology has announced the preparation of a new set of regulations to control online content, more precisely publications or declarations made on Facebook. According to a press article, they intend to drag anyone who publishes such contents to court and also, they are targeting administrators managing the pages on which these contents were published.
Really, if you ask me to describe this move in one word, I will definitely say : JOKE!
I always thought that we lived in a democratic country whereby everyone has the right to express themselves but I never thought that the current government and authorities are planning to transform Mauritius into China,whereby we all know how online content is highly monitored and censored.
Controlling what goes public on Facebook
I also feel that the ICTA and Cybercrime unit are completely wrong as they believe that any content can be monitored before made visible to anyone. They are WRONG ! I repeat, they are WRONG! Challenge me on that if they dare!
Facebook definitely allows page administrators to approve or reject any posts before anyone else can view it but there’s no way to control the comments published on posts. Let’s put Facebook Pages aside for one moment. You, as a profile owner, you can’t approve or reject any comments published on your own posts. The moment someone publishes a comment, it automatically goes online and visible.
Here’s what a member of Facebook Help Team publicly writes in response of a question regarding approval of comments:
Facebook is not the internet
Despite that figures from a September 2014 report show that over 70% of adults with internet access are also Facebook users, this does not mean that Facebook is the Internet. But I think that the authorities believe that by controlling Facebook (or other social networks), they can control the internet.
Wrong again! Facebook is only a platform on which they are focusing all their attention right now. But what about other social networks like Google+, Twitter or Instagram? Do they know their existence and strength? Do these web sites have the mechanism to provide a complete control? To start with, there are no “page administrators” in Twitter. And what if Mauritians start using Twitter to spread messages? I will briefly take another example : TripAdvisor. What if tomorrow people start using this platform to spread communal messages on Mauritius as a destination? The aim of this web site is to publish comments, as they were posted. For example, hotels or restaurants have no way to approve these comments, even if the visitor has given 0 out of 5 points. If the owners find the comments defamatory or communal or against the web site regulations, they can only report them to TripAdvisor. Same for any other social network, including Facebook too.
As I wrote in the title, Education is the solution.
Since kitchen knifes can be used to stab people, has anyone tried to regulate the sales or usage of these knifes? No. Why? Because right from early childhood, parents warn their kids that knifes are dangerous and that they should not be playing with or around them. This awareness contributes to educate the kids about the dangers of handling a knife. But still, sometimes some people stab others out of anger or while being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s when the police and law comes into action to punish the person. But do the authorities punish the knife seller?
Ever since defamatory or communal online content, authorities have only been arresting or dragging the authors to court. But have they really carried out a national awareness program? No. They are only doing television debates on BAI. I think that the population knows more of BAI than any other matter happening in the country.
Where are we heading?
I feel that we are going back to the 1990s whereby we might have to rely only on news from the Bad-hein Broadcasting Corporation and printed newspapers. We are living in a country where people are still able to stick illegal posters on walls and the same country is trying to control what people are saying online. Instead of trying to control these kind of information, why doesn’t the government finalize Freedom of Information for example?
I feel sad for the democracy of my country.