Civil society organisation needed to regulate social media

social media

A Fijian academic is calling for the formation of a civil society group focused on online safety and regulation in the Pacific.

Jope Volavola Tarai is part of a social media research team based at the University of the South Pacific in Suva.

He said it should be on the agenda for civil society because of government inaction in regulating online spaces in the region.

“At the moment, I don’t see civil society actually taking it on, and I’m really waiting for it to become an issue for CSOs to take on and I think because of the fact that everyone is waiting for the state to take it forward in such a way that it lays out a plan or something like that,” he said.

Tarai has previously expressed concern about placing regulation of social media in the hands of governments.

Earlier this year, in a submission to the Online Safety Bill (OSB) to Fiji’s Parliamentary Standing Committee for Justice, Law and Human Rights, he said resisting the state’s agenda responsibly as a digital citizen of this country must be protected.

He suggested that an amend­ment be made in the Bill to include specific principles that directly outline the protec­tion of speech and sentiments that politi­cally disagree with any government so that it was not used against them.

The OSB was passed by the Fiji government in May 2018 after an intense debate.

Under the Online Safety Bill, a person who posts an electronic communication with the intention to cause harm to an individual or the position of the individual commits an offence.

In a paper delivered at the Australian National University in 2015, Tarai said: “It seems that the authorities in Fiji are beginning to see the nation’s thriving social media scene as something of a threat and may be moving to exert more control.”

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News category: Asia Pacific.