(TCSI): Telecommunication Commission Solomon Islands (TCSI) says it is not the body responsible for dealing with bans on Facebook, or on any other class of communications or media content.
The clarification was made by the regulator’s Director of Markets & Competition, Haggai Arumae.
Mr. Arumae was responding to media reports this week which suggested that TCSI would simply ‘bow down’ to the Government’s wish to place a temporary ban on the popular social media platform.
The temporary ban was endorsed by Cabinet on Monday this week following deliberations on a submission brought to it by Prime Minister and the Minister for Communication and Aviation.
Following the decision, a report was carried in a local newspaper suggesting that the independent telecommunications regulator was compromising its independent position.
But Mr. Arumae rejected the notion as misguided and factually incorrect.
“Contrary to what has been discussed in the media thus far, the Telecommunications Commission is not the party which deals with bans on Facebook, or on any other class of communications or media content,” Mr. Arumae said in his response to the allegation.
The Director revealed that TCSI had no involvement in the Government’s proposed Facebook ban, adding that such an involvement may contravene Section 96 of the Telecommunications Act.
The Telecommunications Act is the piece of legislation that gives the Commission its powers, functions, roles and responsibilities.
Mr. Arumae explained that in the case of a state of emergency, the Prime Minister can place restrictions on certain aspects of telecommunications in accordance with Section 96 of the Act.
“Under the Act, on the occasion of any public emergency under section 16 of the Constitution, or in the interests of public safety, the Prime Minister can place orders on telecommunications operators, restricting telecommunications in certain respects.”
However, the Director revealed that as far as the Commission is aware, the process for putting in place such restrictions are yet to be implemented.
“Whether or not the Cabinet’s current discomfort with people’s use of Facebook meet the legal standards of a public emergency, or situation of public safety, is ultimately a matter for determination by the Solomon Islands courts.” Mr. Arumae said.