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Sudhakar Raises Concerns Over Media, Fake News

As provided for under the rules of procedure of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamen­tary Assembly (JPA), the ACP Committee on Political Affairs at its meeting yesterday agreed to recommend to the
15 Jun 2018 11:00
Sudhakar Raises Concerns Over Media, Fake News
Government Whip Ashneel Sudhar (front, third from left) with other Members of Parliament during the ACP Committee on Political Affairs meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Parliament of Fiji

As provided for under the rules of procedure of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamen­tary Assembly (JPA), the ACP Committee on Political Affairs at its meeting yesterday agreed to recommend to the Bureau “The Role of Social Media and Fake News on Democracy” as the title for the next report.

The topic was chosen by consen­sus.

Speaking on the subject, Govern­ment Whip and chairperson for the Standing Committee on Jus­tice, Law and Human Rights and Chairperson for the Public Ac­counts Committee Ashneel Sud­hakar advised the Committee that the issue on the role of social me­dia and fake news is an important one, not only for large ACP states but also for small island develop­ing states like Fiji.

He said Fiji was also facing the problem of misuse of social me­dia with the potential of causing harm to people.

He said there have been cases where nude pictures of minors as well as adult females being circu­lated together with the spread of hate speech and fake news on so­cial media.

Mr Sudhakar said there have been at least two reported cases of suicides and self-harm by young women as a result of cyber-bully­ing.

The speed and reach of social media shows the potential it has caused and therefore there should be laws to control it.

Mr Sudhakar said that while the 2013 Constitution provided eve­ryone with freedom of speech, expression and publication, laws can be made to limit those rights to control hate speech and for the protection and maintenance of the reputation, privacy and dignity of other persons.

He said that Fiji has recently en­acted legislation known as the On­line Safety Act (2018) to curb the problem which provides penalties not only against people who post such things on social media but also against online content hosts.

While the critics of the Act have gone on record to say that the Act is an attempt to curtail freedom of speech, Mr Sudhakar reiterated that freedom of speech in no way can mean that the rights of oth­ers can be impeded and trampled upon.

He said the harmful content and defamatory material which is reg­ularly spread on social media will never find space in mainstream media because they are bound by laws.

The next stage of the process is the consideration of the proposal by the Bureau of the ACP Parlia­mentary Assembly

Source: Parliament of Fiji

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