ONLINE SAFETY BILL NOW LAW
The much awaited Online Safety Bill of 2018 was enacted and passed after much debate between Government MP and Opposition Members in Parliament last night.
The Bill received 27 votes agreed, 14 against and nine did not vote.
The Bill was introduced to promote online safety to increase awareness and education on responsible online behaviour and the use and provision of personal information. Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the law was necessary, relevant to Fiji and to protect the vulnerable in society and not about posting hate speech.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there had been numerous input by people to the committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights.
He said as some spoke about the absence of democracy in the Bill, they however failed to understand the trauma of those who were affected.
National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad said majority who gave submissions on the Bill rejected the Bill and there was a need for more time to look into the Bill.
While agreeing with Mr Sayed-Khaiyum in regards to cyber bullying, Mr Prasad said a law had to be a good law and the Bill was not a bipartisan report as no Opposition member in the committee signed the report. He did not support the Bill and another six months was needed to look into the Bill.
Government MP and Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar said the Bill would deter the unscrupulous behaviour of some who hid behind fake profiles, ‘cowards’ who chose to hide behind the technology and abuse the vulnerable.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said a lot of issues were raised on the why should there be an Online Safety Commission.
Looking at the objectives of the commission, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told MPs that the commission would promote online safety, create awareness, investigate complaints and seek to resolve such complaints as appropriate.
He said the reason the Bill was brought up now, was because Government was preparing for the 2018-2019 National Budget and the appropriate budgetary allocation had to be made.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that the people of Fiji needed to be protected against those who took advantage of others by using social media.
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on May 16, 2018.