03 December 2020
Peter Shanel Agovaka.

The government through the Ministry of Communication and Aviation has announced the temporary suspension of Facebook as policy and lawmakers explore ways to regulate its use.

At the same time Government is also working on amending the Telecommunication Act 2009 to ensure all SIM Card owners must undergo registration.

Minister Shanel Agovaka announced this yesterday during a press conference yesterday.

He said in recent years the users of Facebook continue to post untruths, threats, defamatory remarks, racist comments, to name a few. 

“Using of abusive language in public is an offence under the Penal Code however, policing Facebook and laying charges against perpetrators in the circumstance have proven to be futile given the prominence of allowing fake accounts online. 

“So how does the government protect its citizens from the above abuse. 

“The allowance of Government in sustaining such activities has threatened the morals of society and has raised a number of social and legal issues,” he said. 

He added there is no accountability whatsoever by users on Facebook in the Solomon Islands.

 ”Having seriously considered this, the Government has now decided to temporarily suspend access to Facebook in the Country while policy and lawmakers explore ways to regulate its use so that individuals can be held accountable for what they say in the social media platform. 

“This will also ensure that those who administer pages are also accountable for the comments and postings of others on their forums or chat groups,” he said.

He added his ministry is currently working on a plan to simultaneously complete the Amendment to the Telecommunication Act 2009 on the SIM registration and implement the Cabinet decision to suspend access to Facebook by working with the cyber-security and information security working group.

The minister explained SIM card registration is a step towards ensuring that persons using telecommunication services can be held accountable for their actions. 

“SIM registration is a vital component of telecommunications in the digital era,” he said.

He said this week; officials from the ministry have led a team to Auki as part of the consultation with some of the key stakeholders in Malaita Province.

Agovaka said the government understands and acknowledges a number of business houses are using Facebook to advertise and to do trading.

However, he said the temporary suspension of Facebook will provide them the opportunity to set up their companies’ business platform to trade, sell, and do their core business or any side business.

It's unclear when the Facebook brief blackout will come into effect.

Newsroom, Honiara