Mauritius is seeing fresh attempts by the leader of the country Pravind Jugnauth to tame the wild fire against his government on social media.
The authorities are looking into the possibility to take down Facebook posts or perhaps they are talking about taking down specific profiles.
Essentially, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority’s (ICTA) release of a consultation document about the government’s plans to give it more power to censor social media, has gone viral.
The government names Facebook specifically in the document and its political officials are saying the comments from Mauritians on Facebook are disparaging.
The plan is part of an older strategy to clamp down on the internet, says L’Express a local daily in Port Louis. The paper says the government’s claims that this is about cybercrime – rather than censorship – are not convincing.
For netizens, the new rulings will be an attempt at imposing extreme measures against freedom of speech in the country.
The debate among netizens is whether the government will succeed in clamping on social media. If it fails, like it failed before, it will have no other recourse but jailing of locals to try muzzle critics.
The ICTA document seeks to set up a National Digital Ethics Committee (NDEC) with an enforcement unit empowered to take down and censor social media posts.
However, social media posts can only be taken down — generally speaking — by the companies that owns the platforms, not the local authorities. It has not been done in any country so far.
To make its plan work, the document proposes allowing the government to set up a proxy “to segregate from all incoming and outgoing internet traffic in Mauritius, social media traffic, which will then need to be decrypted, re-encrypted and archived for inspection purposes as and when required”.
The idea of a proxy is also ridiculed by critics but there is chance that the government will have to eventually ban Facebook. Or it will attempt to press Facebook to take steps to stop attacks online against the regime or face a total blackout in the country.
Both ways seems impossible to believe because the Mauritian government will join the ranks of rogue nations that has banned Facebook.