Govt. downplays cyber security fear

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has brushed off concerns about the security of communication channels to and from Samoa, saying the only thing a spy could find are constant telephone calls requesting assistance for fa'alavelave.

Tuilaepa has also assured that concerns about cyber security and the need to protect sensitive information about Samoa are unfounded. 

The Prime Minister made the point in Parliament, in response to concerns raised by the M.P. for Gagaifomauga No. 3, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, who said all communications to and from Samoa are now subjected to Fiji. Following the sale of Bluesky to Vodafone, La'auli said the Government needs to revisit the matter. 

But Tuilaepa said the issue was previously raised and it was not a concern. 

He explained that anyone tried to spy on communications made by Samoans, they would get a sore ear from listening to demands for money for funeral and church obligations.

Tuliaepa said the question was posed to him two years ago when a man in New Zealand was accused of hacking information. 

He was asked how the case will affect the exchange of information between Samoa and New Zealand. 

“My reply was if any palagi tried to spy on us about, ninety nine percent of the time the phone rings, would be an old man asking for $1,000 tala for his love offering, some money for his tobacco or money for funeral,” said Tuilaepa. 

“This means that whoever is listening would get tired of hearing these kinds of conversation especially when the conversation is in Samoan. 

“Honorable Speaker, these issues have already been addressed by the Government and there is no need to worry about it.”

Earlier, La’auli had queried the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, over cyber security and protecting sensitive information. 

He warned that the parent company of Vodafone based in Fiji owns 60 percent of the shares and there is risk of information being hacked through the gateway cables used by the company. 

“Our communications are not secure, Fiji and Bainimarama are listening to it,” La'auli said.

The M.P. advised the Minister to draft a legislation to protect the country. 

Minister Afamasaga disputed the claims from La’auli saying there is no threat to the country’s communication. 

He assured that the Government of Australia is offering assistance to establish a Cyber Security Office in the country. 

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