Blanket censorship of social media announced for all Government workers

Announcment from PSC of blanket ban on access to social media for all Vanuatu public servants

Memo from PSC announcing blanket ban on access to social media for all Vanuatu public servants (english translation can be found below in the comments to this story)

According to Radio Vanuatu News today the Public Service Commission is forbidding government workers from accessing social media. This was decided in a meeting of 29 April. In an advisory note, the Acting Secretary of the PSC, Jacques Gedeon, says public servants will no longer have access to unspecified social media sites, and all requests must have the approval of the PSC Secretariat before the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) enables access. This website objects strongly to this position of the PSC. Social media are an important public sphere for debate in Vanuatu. The memo is also vaguely worded, and does not specify how ‘social media’ is defined nor what sites are to be banned. Many civil servants lack the means to purchase newspapers, others find it difficult to have radio coverage at appropriate times. Furthermore, as we have discovered in recent years, both the broadcasting corporation and governments have at times decided to terminate transmissions at certain levels to save costs. A Right to Information Bill is before Parliament and a blanket censorship of this kind should not be allowed by either the Public Service Commission or the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the more so because of the Prime Minister’s stated commitment to provide information to all and wherever they may live.

Very important changes are taking place in the capital with the provision of previously unknown sanitation facilities, drainage improvements and road and footpath renewal. These are components of the Port Vila Urban Development Project (PVUDP). A public meeting last week organised by the Chamber of Commerce was gratified to learn of the rationale and extent of the works which meet the critical gaze of residents and visitors alike as they seek to park or promenade in the George Kalsakau Drive along Port Vila’s Seafront.

A treatment plant is being established at Bouffa, near Etas, which will deal with human waste from many areas, already started with three Seaside communities, Blacksands and Mele. World Vision and Wan Smolbag have been working within these communities in order for the ongoing management to be successful.

Kalsakau Drive road traffic scheme started late but is now expected to be completed by end-July, says Lawrence Carlson, the team leader for the Port Vila Urban Development Project. He had many questions to answer at the meeting last week, from residents and developers alike. He was assisted in the task by a splendid aerial photograph, two metres long, showing every allotment in the town. The roads to be improved are indicated and the passage and terminal points for waste water are pinpointed. It’s to be hoped the photo can be made available for public display.

The project will see 13 kilometres of road improvement and 7km of drainage. In today’s Daily Post, Carlson says that the main contractor for the road and drainage works, RMS, has been working closely with utility companies. He discussed mostly roads last Wednesday, like the plan for making through town traffic, say airport to Pango, pass through the Emalus/Tassiriki roundabout to Colardeau. Today came further information for pedestrians which will be applauded by the pedestrian traffic. Australian standards are to be maintained. And there will be kerb rumps, new roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and signs, road traffic signs and some 30 bus bays.

Different works are also foreseen in Daily Post today in that a contract has been signed for the reconstruction and renovation of the Efate ring road. Cardno Emerging Markets has secured the task which is assisted by the Asian Development Bank.

The Namatan Film Festival is to be judged tomorrow evening at the Saralana stage. Six film-making groups have already been selected for the finals which have been adjudicated already by some 3,000 viewers. Finalists come from Tanna, Efate, Malekula and Santo. The show gets underway at 4:30pm tomorrow and this writer believes there is much of interest to be seen.


6 Comments on “Blanket censorship of social media announced for all Government workers”

  1. sam obed says:

    PSC I sut traem blong putum samfala samting in ples blong monitarem perfomens long ol civil servants mbae I mo gud pitim stopem olgeta long social media


  2. dailyvanuatu says:

    Censorship is an unintended side effect of such a ban, rather than the intention. Sources in Govt claim that productive hours are being wasted by Govt workers on social media, a claim that is difficult to verify – there are numerous legitimate reasons to be using social media for work. Many Govt depts have a presence on Facebook, for example.
    I do concede that it is likely that there are public servants misusing social media during working hours. And of course Govt workers should be focusing on the work that they are being paid to do. But a blanket ban that treats all public servants like naughty children who can’t be trusted is silly, and heavy-handed. How about training people to use social media responsibility instead, and giving them incentives to do so?


  3. dailyvanuatu says:

    Here’s a translation of the bislama text of the PSC Memo:

    27th June 2016


    From: Acting Secretary, Public Service Commission
    To: All Pubic Servants

    Restriction of access to social media sites

    At Meeting No.8 on 29th April 2016, in Decision 35, the Public Service Commission decided to restrict access to social media for all Government Departments.

    The Public Service Commission has stopped access for all public servants to all social media sites, and any request to access any social media site must be approved by the PSC Secretariat before the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCGIO) will grant access.

    The OCGIO has been advised to implement these instructions based on the PSC’s decision.

    Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

    Jacques Gedeon
    Acting Secretary
    Office of the Public Service Commission


  4. Jope Tarai says:

    Interesting development-
    3 questions;
    1. Banned from accessing social media during work hours?
    2. Banned as a civil servant to ever access social media?
    3. Banned from Facebook only?, Twitter? Blog Sites???


    • dailyvanuatu says:

      The memo doesn’t go into any detail, unfortunately, so we can only speculate at this stage. Presumably it is intended to ban use of social media by public servants during work hours, as a means of ensuring that the public servants are doing the job that they are paid to do and not slacking off on social media.

      It is unlikely the intent is outright censorship, but the end result is the same.

      As it currently stands, it is a blunt instrument. No parameters to the directive are specified, or any particular sites or services. It opens itself up to massive abuse: after banning social media, what gets banned next?

      In any case, this proposed policy completely contravenes the mission of the Vanuatu Government agency tasked with implementing it, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OCGIO), which is to “to encourage the spread of ICTs (information and communications technologies) in society to efficiently and effectively achieve an educated, healthy and wealthy Vanuatu”, and “to encourage the right to information (RTI) in Vanuatu”. Freedom of expression is also enshrined in the Constitution as well.


  5. Nasimal ( Nasingamelip ) says:

    I don’t know why our Government trying to block public workers , I suppose they meant Doctors , Teachers , nurses and street cleaners not to access internet media . They failed to understand the prophecy of Daniel 12 :1-4 , and we are living in that very time . Are they trying to hide some secret deals ? Thank you and I pray our AHAYAH ( The Most High ) bless and guide the our people of Vanuatu to see the truth .