Law to control internet access does not breach freedom of speech and right to privacy, says Attorney General

    In picture: Acting Attorney General ʻAminiasi Kefu (left) and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni.


    Tonga’s Attorney General Office has denied accusations that the new Communications Law breaches citizens’ rights to free speech and privacy.

    The new law will give the Ministry of Communication the right to tell communication companies in Tonga to filter their customers’ internet to prevent children from accessing sexual images.

    Customers could tell communication companies to remove the filter if they felt their house was safe and contained no children, Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni told the House.

    However the Attorney General’s Office was responding this week  to allegations raised in the media that the new law would breach Tongan citizen’s legal rights to freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

    The Office said freedom of expression and the rights to protect privacy were protected under existing communication laws and clause seven of the kingdom’s 1875 constitution.

    It said these rights could only be removed if the courts so decide after considering an application from a legal authority.

    The Attorney General has stressed that the Communication Law (2015) and the existing communication acts do not affect their freedom of speech and right to privacy.

    The Attorney General’s office said it was collating information for the new laws which was recently passed by Parliament before being presented to the king for His signature.

    After the king signs the law the government will announce when the new communication law will be made effective.

    The new communication law

    The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, who is also the Minister of Communication told the House the new communication law was an updated version of the Communication Law (2000).

    He said the new law only proposed giving the power to block websites that might threaten children and adults.

    Sections 100-103 of the new Communication Law deals with educational content, national security and political and controversial content.

    They deal with how the king and the government can grant applications to access material for educational use. These sections are in the current communication regulations as sections 82-84.

    Hon. Sovaleni said the new law gave the Ministry the power to order communication companies to install filters which block websites containing sexual images. This is being done to protect children from pornography.

    Hon. Sovaleni said if Tongan Telecommunications and Digicel had this authority they would install mandatory filtering on their customers’ internet, but with certain terms and conditions.

    He said the new law stipulated the ages of customers to whom communication companies can give internet access.

    Hon. Sovaleni told the House the new law would give power to the Ministry and communication companies the right to take down websites if people complained they were a threat to security.

    The main points

    • Tonga’s Attorney General Office has denied accusations that the new Communications Law breaches citizens’ rights to free speech and privacy.
    • The new law will give the Ministry of Communication the right to tell communication companies in Tonga to filter their customers’ internet to prevent children from accessing sexual images.
    • The Attorney General’s Office was responding to allegations raised in the media that the new law would breach Tongan citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and right to privacy.
    • The Office said freedom of expression and the rights to protect privacy were protected under existing communication laws and clause seven of the kingdom’s 1875 constitution.

    1 COMMENT

    1. ‘Ikai maumauʻi ʻe he lao ke puleʻi e meʻa ʻoku lava ke fai ai ha sio he ʻinitanetí ʻa e tauʻatāina ki he lea mo e totonu ki he meʻa fakataautahá ko e lau ia ʻa e ʻĀteni Senialé.

      Kuo fakaʻikaiʻi ʻe he ʻŌfisi ʻo e ʻĀteni Senialé ʻa e ngaahi fakakikihi ʻo pehē ʻe hanga ʻe he Lao Fetuʻutaki foʻoú ʻa Tongá ʻo maumauʻi e totonu ʻa e tangataʻi fonuá ki he lea tauʻatāiná mo e totonu ki he meʻa fakafoʻituituí.

      ʻE foaki ʻe he lao foʻoú ki he Potungāue Fetuʻutaki ʻa e Puleʻangá ʻa e totonu ke ne fakahā ki he ngaahi kautaha fetuʻutaki ʻi Tonga ke fokotuʻu ha meʻasivi ki he ʻinitaneti ʻa ʻenau kau kasitomaá ke maluʻi e fānau mei haʻanau sio he ngaahi ʻata ʻikai tāú.

      ʻE lava foki he laó ni ke fakahā ʻe he kau kasitomaá ki he ngaahi kautaha fetuʻutakí ke toʻo ʻa e meʻasivi ko ʻení ia kapau ʻoku nau ongoʻi ʻoku malu pe honau falé pea ʻikai ha fānau ia ai, ko e fakamatala ʻeni ʻa e Tokoni Palēmiá ki he Fale Aleá.

      Kaekehe ʻi he uiké ni kuo tuku mai e tali ʻa e ʻŌfisi ʻo e ʻĀteni Senialé ki ha ngaahi fakamahalo kuo ʻohake ʻi he mītiá ʻo pehē ʻe henga ʻe he lao foʻoú ni ʻo maumauʻi ʻa e totonu ʻa e tangataʻi fonuá ki he fakahā ʻo e fakakaukaú mo e totonu ki he meʻa fakataautaha ʻa e kakaí.

      Pehē foki ʻe he ʻŌfisí ʻoku maluʻi lelei pe ʻe he lao lolotongá ʻa e tauʻatāina ki hono fakahā ʻo e fakakaukaú mo e ngaahi totonu ke maluʻi e meʻa fakataautaha ʻa e kakaí ʻi he lao fetuʻutaki foʻou mo e kupu fitu ʻo e konisitūtone ʻa Tongá.

      Ne ne pehē ʻe toki toʻo pe ngaahi totonu ko ʻení kapau ʻe tuʻutuʻuni ki ai e ngaahi fakamaauʻangá hili hano fakakaukauʻi ha kole mei ha maʻumafai.

      Ne fakamamafaʻi ʻe he ʻĀteni Senialé ko e Lao Fetuʻutaki foʻou 2015 mo e ngaahi lao fetuʻutaki lolotongá ʻoku ʻikai ke na uesia ʻa e tauʻatāina ki he leá mo e totonu ki he meʻa fakataautahá.

      Pehē foki ʻe he ʻŌfisi ʻo e ʻĀteni Senialé ʻoku nau lolotonga fakamāʻopoʻopo ʻa e ngaahi fakamatala ki he lao foʻoú ʻa ia ne toki paasí ni ʻe he Fale Aleá ki muʻa hano ʻoatu ki he tuʻí ke fakamoʻoni huafa ki ai.

      Ka hili ia pea ʻe toki fanongonongo ʻe he puleʻangá ʻa e taimi ke kamata ngāueʻaki ai ʻa e laó ni.

      Ko e lao fetuʻutaki foʻoú.
      Ne fakahā ʻe he Tokoni Palēmiá ʻOnapolo Siaosi Sovaleni ʻa ia ko ia foki ʻoku Minisitā Fetuʻutakí ki he Falé ko e lao foʻou ko hono toe huke pe ia ʻo e lao lolotongá, Lao Fetuʻutaki 2000.
      Ne ne pehē ko e meʻa pe ʻoku fokotuʻu atu ʻi he lao foʻou ko e mafai ke polokaʻi ʻa e ngaahi uepisaiti ʻe ala fakatuʻutāmaki ki he fānaú mo e kakai lalahí.

      Ko e kupu 100 – 103 ʻo e Lao Fetuʻutaki Foʻou ʻoku talanoa ia ki he ngaahi meʻa fakaako kuo faʻu, malu fakafonuá mo e ngaahi meʻa kuo faʻu ʻoku natula fakapolitikale pe ala fakafekikiʻi.

      ʻOku ʻuhinga e kupu ko ʻeni founga ʻe lava ai ʻe he puleʻangá mo e tuʻí ʻo fakaʻatā ha ngaahi kole ke fakangofua ke ngāueʻaki ʻe taha ʻa e ngaahi fakamatala fakaako koi á.

      Ko e ʻū kupu ko ʻení ʻoku ʻi he lao lolotongá pe ia kupu 82 – 84.

      Pehē ʻe Sovaleni ʻe ʻoange ʻe he lao foʻou ʻa e mafai ki he Potungāué ke tuʻutuʻuni ki he ngaahi kautaha fetuʻutakí ke polokaʻi ha ʻū uepisati ʻoku ʻasi ai ha ngaahi fakatātā fakalielia.

      Ko e fai ʻeni ke maluʻi ʻa e fānaú mei he ngaahi ʻāta fakaepoʻulí.

      Pehē foki ʻe Sovaleni kapau ʻe maʻu ʻe he Telecom mo e Digicel ʻa e mafai ko ʻeni ʻe lava leva ken au fokotuʻu ha meʻasivi he ʻinitaneti ʻa ʻenau kasitomaá kae ʻi ai pe hono ngaahi makatuʻunga pau.

      Ne ne meʻa ʻo pehē ko e lao foʻou ʻokú ne tuʻutuʻuniʻi ʻa e taʻu motuʻa ʻo ha taha ke maʻu ʻinitaneti mei he kautaha fetuʻutaki.

      Ne pehē foki ʻe Sovaleni ki he Fale Aleá ko e lao foʻou ʻokú ne ʻoange e mafai ki he Potungāue Fetuʻutakí ʻa e totonu ke nau toʻo ha uepisaiti ʻe laungaʻi ʻe he kakaí tuʻunga ʻi haʻane fakatuʻutāmaki kiate kinautolu mo ʻenau malú.

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