Further to some press articles, private radio news items and online comments on social media platforms, the ICTA wishes to bring the following clarifications: The proposal in the Public Consultation paper on “Proposed amendments to the ICT Act for regulating the use and addressing the abuse and misuse of Social Media in Mauritius” pertains to social media platforms only as clearly spelt out in the paper title itself.
  1. As opposed to the rampant fake news propagated by ill-intentioned persons on the web, online messaging applications are not concerned. Online messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Threema, Wire, etc present a distinct characteristic, which is end-to-end encryption. This type of encryption is different from the https/TLS encryption described in the Consultation Paper. End-to-end encryption implies that each and every communication between two users of these online messaging applications are encrypted in such a way that nobody in the middle and not even the service provider has the ability to decrypt it.
  2. It has never been the intention of the ICTA to regulate the use of online messaging applications since these types of communication are of a private nature as opposed to public postings on social media platforms.
  3. ICTA has already sought the opinion of Facebook’s office in South Africa to seek their views on the proposal and to further recommend alternative measures to tackle the issues of abuse and misuse of social media in Mauritius.
  4. In accordance with the recommendations made by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg before the Senate of United States in April 2018, whereby he advised governments to put into place their own respective regulatory bodies to oversee fake news and illegal contents, the ICTA as per Sections 18(d) and (m) of the ICT Act, in accordance with its legal duty and obligations, will submit recommendations to the Government, only after this exercise of public consultation is completed.
  5. Furthermore, on the 30th of March 2019, following the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, Mark Zuckerberg called on governments and other bodies to increase regulation around the sorts of data in which Facebook traffics.
  6. The public consultation exercise ends on the 5th of May 2021. The ICTA will thereafter analyse and dissect the opinions expressed by the general public and will submit its recommendations to the Government which will ultimately decide whether to go forward. Legislations may only be introduced into the National Assembly after Cabinet approval is sought and obtained. Further, once introduced into the National Assembly, any amendment is subject to parliamentary debate and scrutiny.

19 April 2021