The Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, has called on the Government to deal with what he has described as an “internal threat” in terms of online users abusing the forum to hurt people.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the Faleata West M.P. directed a challenge to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa'i.
He called upon the Minister to launch a nationwide hunt for online users who abuse the internet to attack the Government, spread untruthful information which creates ill feelings among people towards their leaders.
“Your honour, the Minister of Communications, they should have been looked up and found a long time ago,” he said.
“If you’ve found them, bring them so we can sue them. Take them to Court, let’s do it because what they are doing is not good, it is inappropriate. Because we are a nation founded on God, we are a Christian nation.”
Leala, who has been a victim of some of the online posts in the past, described such people as an “internal threat”.
“We must stop this rude and inappropriate behaviour,” Leala said. “We must put an end to this practice where these people misuse and abuse tools that should be used for development. The internet is a useful tool that can help people move forward.”
The Associate Minister did not name anyone in particular.
But he said it is no secret that what has been done damages Samoa’s reputation and hurts innocent people and their families.
“What’s happening in our country is no longer a secret,” he said. “Where these people are using these things to stir up and break up our Government.
“We should be proud as a nation. It has been more than 30 years since the Government has successfully led this country. We have been making a lot of progress and we are praised by other nations looking in for our development and political stability.
“But the threat we’ve got comes from within our people, not just people living here, but people living overseas.”
As the Associate Minister, Leala said Samoa has to move with the times.
“Samoa cannot buckle a global trend. We have to move forward. It is very important to the development of the country.”
He told a story about a global I.C.T. meeting he and Minister Afamasaga attended last year.
“The meeting was attended by everyone who managed big internet companies from all over the world. There were people from Apple and all those big groups.
“The man from Apple spoke at the meeting and said ‘I’m not worried about the machines that want to be human, I’m rather worried about humans who want to be machines’.”
The abuse of online technology, Leala said, speaks of people who want to be machines.
“Humanity has been lost through these things,” he said.
He added that if push comes to shove, the Government has a critical decision to make.
“There is a very simple solution. The government only has to say ‘tomorrow we are switching off the internet’ and it will be switched off.
“But we are not going to do that because we don’t want to use these weak things to take away the value of such an important service.”
He also spoke about whistleblowers.
“These people called whistleblowers, people who ring the alarm bells, are found in every democratic country. We cannot reject them, but they must work in an appropriate way that is easily acceptable,” Leala said.
“It’s not as if the Government is not doing anything to people who are caught doing corrupt things in the Government.
“The leader of the country has clearly spoken and challenged us to speak up, go ahead and tell the Police. That is the appropriate channel.”
The Associate Minister’s claims in Parliament yesterday follow the Government hunt to find online and social media bloggers such as O.L.P. and others.
The Government recently reintroduced the Criminal Libel law in a bid to find and punish O.L.P.
Parliament continued last night.