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Tech giants will answer to Samoan courts of law

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram and others will answer to Samoa’s Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration [M.J.C.A.] when the Government institutes a law requiring those platforms used by locals to register in Samoa.

This was revealed by Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology [M.C.I.T.] Fualau Talatalaga Mata’u Matafeo on Thursday.

The Attorney General’s Office and the Samoa Law Reform Commission [S.L.R.C.] are looking at how to craft a law that will require the tech giants to register in Samoa, Matafeo told an audience of journalists and Government officials taking part in a Covid-19 workshop at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

“In Europe, they already have these companies Facebook, Twitter and Instagram registered and they answer to the laws of these countries. It will be just like any other business that has been established in Samoa,” he said.

“Even if the company and its server is located in America, we are already using it [these social media platforms] and so…we have the Attorney General’s Office and the Law Reform Commission looking at how we can have these companies registered so they will have to answer to Samoan laws if something happens.”

He said it’s difficult because nations like the United States have an advantage.

“They are big nations and when you talk about the market size it’s definitely traffic of no less than 100,000 people…but we have given them our values, our principles and the way our people communicate and interact,” said Matafeo.

He said M.C.I.T. seeks to protect confidential information of Samoans.

“Take for example Facebook and all this information where are all your information and photographs stored? It’s not in Samoa. It’s not in the Pacific. It’s in Singapore. Your risk of where your information is stored that’s up to you that’s your decision,” Matafeo said.

“Everyone is submitting to those social media platforms but you don’t know exactly how they will using that information about you. And for instance, you don’t know when you will die, when the LORD calls you who is going to delete your information from those cache and those servers? 

"That is why we are looking at these laws so we can be sure that the information of every Samoan needs to be secured within the territory of Samoa. We have to know what they are doing with our information.”

Whether it’s health, education or agriculture the information of Samoans must be safeguarded, he emphasised.

“It’s not a small job and all of us will be involved in these making these policies,” Matafeo added.

Two weeks ago, the M.C.I.T. contracted a consultant to begin work on the Freedom of Access to Information Act [F.A.I.A.].

“A consultant is on board,” Matafeo said.

“It’s so anyone can request information from the Government and it’s a huge scope of work.”

More than 100 laws are being reviewed in the creation of the country’s national identification card.

The Attorney General's Office and the S.L.R.C. are reviewing about 100 laws to see if there are any statutes that must be improved or strengthened in order to make the national I.D. proposal a reality.

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