Thumbs Up For Online Safety Bill

All those men and women who have had their intimate photographs released on social media or on platforms such as a DropBox as revenge porn, will soon find respite. A
16 Mar 2018 10:00
Thumbs Up For Online Safety Bill

All those men and women who have had their intimate photographs released on social media or on platforms such as a DropBox as revenge porn, will soon find respite.

A motion was passed in Parliament last night, despite resistance from the Opposition, to refer the Online Safety Bill to the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights before it is tabled in Parliament’s May sitting.

The motion to refer the Bill was brought to Parliament by the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The Bill:

Last night, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, in a passionate address, implored all Members of Parliament to support the Bill which, once passed, will form an Online Safety Commission.

He explained to Parliament that the Bill was a commitment to ensure harmful online behaviour such as cyber bullying, cyber stalking, internet trolling and exposure to offensive or harmful content, particularly in respect of children was clamped.

The Bill provides specific avenue which individuals, parents, legal guardians or representatives of victims can take to have their concerns dealt with.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that the Bill refers to intimate video recordings especially of women which are later used to bully them.

Fiji Sun had ran a series of articles last September where a number of women reached out to us that their naked pictures had been posted on a DropBox and was being circulated online by ex-boyfriends who were out to seek revenge.

These women and young girls can take their issue up with the Commission who will look into the matter on their behalf.

These victims will be able to seek advice from the Online Safety Commission or Commissioner who will also investigate complaints and seek to resolve such complaints.

However, Members of the Opposition took a completely different angle to the Bill and claimed that this will curtail freedom of Fijians from posting on social media.

Opposition response started with National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad who said two months was too short for consultation to take on the Bill and demanded that the Bill be with the Committee for six months.

In responding to him, Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar said the country could not afford to delay this Bill.

She pointed out that women were driven to the verge of committing suicide because of such bullying. .

However, from the other side of the House SODELPA MPs Mosese Bulitavu and Viliame Gavoka said this Bill would curtail freedom. Mr Gavoka said people were turning to social media out of frustration that they were unable to air their grievances elsewhere. Mr Bulitavu claimed that this was a ploy to stop Opposition from speaking out on social media.

It’s not about you, it’s not about politics, it’s about the vulnerable: Attorney-General tells Opposition

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum shared his dismay that Members of the Opposition were unable to see beyond their own personal agenda and were unable to put the women and youth of this country above politics.

“This is about children, it is about the females in particular where they have been victims of online cases of people using these images to cause them emotional harm,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum reminded the House.

“Honourable Bhatnagar is absolutely right. There are people who have committed suicide not just because of this exposure but also because of harassment and bullying that is taking place in schools now.

“…Some female gives someone a kiss in High School or is photographed sitting inappropriately and their thighs are exposed, four years later somebody pulls that out when she is about to get married to dissuade somebody from marrying her. All of us have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, put yourselves in their shoes. How would you like to have that happen to your children or grandchildren,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum questioned Opposition Members.

He also hit back at the Opposition for making everything about them.

“They need to move away from this paranoia that they have that we are going and sitting every night doing laws to try and curtail their freedom, doing laws so they cannot post lies and deceptions or misinformation – whoever is doing it. It’s not about that. Let’s mature and grow up.

“It’s about protecting the vulnerable in our society. Every day it is causing another person some form of distress from cyber space.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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