Every other common Internet user in Mauritius to whom I asked whether he/she knew our Internet traffic is filtered by the ICT Authority, they replied NO! Some people have reacted with an outrage while others took it casually, like the Authority can do what it wants anyway. Maybe this docile nature of Mauritius Internet Users have over the past years given the impression that just anything & everything will be accepted.
Unfortunately for the Authority, nope, this is not acceptable. I came to know about this Internet filtering mechanism by ICTA some time back. I thus did my homework, what it was, why it was put in place and who decided? Online traces are very vague.
Let us start by looking at the press release of Watchdog International, the organisation that was hired by the ICT Authority to put in place an Internet filtering system.
Peter Mancer, Managing Director of Watchdog International, mentions in the press release that he was impressed at how willingly the ISPs of Mauritius collaborated.
Why? Was there resistance in other countries? The text also mentions "transparency" and "broad consultation" undertaken by ICTA. Damn, in the name of transparency, things happen behind closed doors and broad consultation means selecting a few "dolls" that sit in a meeting and nod their head.
I was NOT informed of Internet filtering. I do NOT agree to Internet filtering.
The news item section on Watchdog International's website shows the installation of the Internet filter in Mauritius as being latest news. A latest news that dates back to 2011. It makes one think how "Internet filter" is treated globally.
Why? Why is it that Internet filtering is resisted worldwide while in Mauritius people do not seem to care?
I came to conclusion it's all about awareness. People do not comment on things they do not have knowledge. Has "Internet filtering" properly been discussed in Mauritius before its implementation? I guess not. It's not a wonder so many people are not even aware of its existence.
I sent an email to the Executive Director of the ICT Authority on 10 May 2015. I received a reply on 14 May 2015, whereby the Executive Director states that the "Internet filter" was implemented under Section 18 of the ICT Act 2001 (as amended) and Section 14 of the Child Protection Act. It is also mentioned on the ICTA website that the aim of the filter is to curtail Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) content. I do not object to removal of CSA material but ICTA needs to re-study its ways of achieving the same.
I am leaving a copy of the letter on my website for public consultation.
An "Internet filter" at National level without the consent of Internet users sends the wrong signal. When I questioned ICTA on the same and asked why the Authority has been spying me for four years, the Executive Director took strong objection. Wait again. Did the ICT Authority or my ISP inform me of Internet filtering? Nope. I was using Internet without the knowledge that the Authority is filtering my traffic. Isn't this type of filtering/monitoring pervasive?
Even the traffic Police alerts me if a Police camera might take my picture ahead. Privacy is a serious business folks. You should understand this ICTA.
I would not be surprised if the mechanism by ICTA was used to monitor or filter other content, knowing that ICTA has in the past blocked Facebook.
Thanks to the ICT Authority, Mauritius is now also listed among countries that put a ban on Facebook. Wikipedia unfortunately did not forget this action. Duh!
I replied ICTA's letter on 14 May 2015.