Internet under threat?: The politics of online censorship in the Pacific Islands
In the Pacific, there have been startling news releases of governments making attempts at censoring the internet, a move seen to point towards silencing dissenting views on popular online forums. The conflicting trends between the new political forum ushered in by the new media on the one hand, and the restrictive mode of state censorship on the other hand, pose serious challenges to the broader framework of rights and freedom of expressions. The aim of this article is to examine the regulatory approaches being developed and/or proposed in response to the emergence of new media in Pacific Island Countries (PICs). This article reviews two ways in which Pacific island governments are attempting to regulate the internet: firstly through the development of legislation to prosecute cybercriminals, and secondly through the banning of certain internet sites, most notably Facebook. Despite the disparities in internet penetration levels, the article reveals that nearly all countries in the Pacific are increasingly regulating or are moving towards regulating the internet. The justifications for internet regulation and censorship are largely predicated around the rhetoric of protecting its citizens from the negative effects of the internet. However, these regulations seem to be a response to Pacific Island governments’ fears of growing criticism and dissent on social media platforms.
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