Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Hon. Timothy Masiu, has urged citizens to tread cautiously online, following recent civil unrest fueled by online misinformation.
Minister Masiu led a team of senior officials from Police Cyber Crime Unit, National Information Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) and Department of ICT, on NBC’s radio talk show program on Thursday, 25 January.
“It seems that while some listened, there are some people who used it in other ways,” stated Mr Masiu, whilst expressing disappointment with those who continue to exploit social media for harmful purposes.
He however commended those who heeded his earlier call for reduced online negativity, emphasizing the importance of responsible information consumption.
“I think radio is the most trusted source of information because radio cannot spread false information,” Masiu declared, highlighting the perceived reliability of traditional media compared to the chaotic online landscape.
The Department of ICT, along with key stakeholders such as the Police and the National Information Communication Technology Authority (NICTA), outlined their efforts to combat cybercrime and promote online safety.
“Beware of cyber criminals in cyberspace,” warned DICT’s Deputy Secretary for Policy and Emerging Technologies, Flierl Shongol, reminding citizens to take precautions against scams and misinformation.
He referred to the department’s Cyber Security Policy and the Cybercrime Code Act 2016, and highlighted the role of the National Cyber Security Center in protecting sensitive information.
DICT’s Manager for Cyber Security, Hamilton Vagi , shared insights from the “Black Wednesday” (10 January ) events, acknowledging the need for improvement in the wake of the online misinformation surge.
“We have learned and faced challenges during the civil unrest which we will improve to avoid in the future,” he stated, emphasizing the importance of collaboration with other agencies like the Police, Defence, National Intelligence Organisation (NIO) and NICTA.
NICTA’s Manager for Consumer Affairs, Ms Andirauga Nongkas, identified the lack of critical thinking as a key factor contributing to the spread of misinformation online.
“Much of the information is intended to cause panic, anxiety, and fear. The information shared was based on unfounded allegations and untruths,” she explained, urging citizens to practice fact-checking before sharing.
The RPNGC’s Officer in Charge of the Cyber Crime Unit, Mr Lison Salle, focused on individual responsibility.
“Go online with purpose,” he advised, warning against aimless browsing and engagement with inappropriate content.
Mr Salle also shared insights into cybercrime investigations, underscoring the seriousness of online misuse and the potential legal consequences.
“Whatever you do in the digital space, we know, and we can get to the bottom to find you,” declared Oala Moi, Counsel at the Department of ICT, delivering a stern message about the traceability of online actions and the potential for legal repercussions.
He cited examples of individuals facing legal consequences for online defamation, serving as a reminder of the importance of responsible online behavior.
The collective voice of PNG’s information technology leaders echoes a clear message.
“As we navigate the digital world,” Minister Masiu concluded, “we must choose how we consume information.
“Let us be discerning, employing critical thinking before we share. Technology holds immense potential for progress and development, let us harness its power responsibly.”
He emphasized the collective effort needed, stating, “Together, we can curate a safe and vibrant online space, one built on respect and truth.
“Choose responsibly, be a critical thinker, and join us in building a digital PNG that unites, informs, and empowers.”