Having an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful cyberspace is vital for development. 

This message was conveyed at the opening of the Global Citizens Dialogue at the University of Fiji yesterday by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Communications and Director-General Digital Government Transformation, Cybersecurity and Communications Ms Tupou’tuah Baravilala to the 125 participants. 

Today, 95% of all Fijians have access to internet connectivity and coupled with call charges, text and broadband rates being at the lowest prices that we have ever seen, at the highest speeds we’ve ever seen, it is clear that the internet has now become an integral part of our lives. 

“This brings about many benefits however it does have its challenges and risks. If these challenges are not managed, it can undermine the realisation of the full benefits of the internet. This requires a collective effort,” said Ms Baravilala.

 Amongst the Government’s existing efforts to maintain a safe and secure cyber landscape, Ms Baravilala stated that the Cybercrime Bill which has been tabled in Parliament is aligned to the Budapest Convention – the only binding international instrument to address internet and computer crimes.  

“As responsible digital citizens, we must stay vigilant against misinformation, disinformation and fake news, refer to official and reliable sources and be mindful of the type of personal information we share online,” stressed Ms Baravilala. 

She also encouraged participants to visit the website of the Online Safety Commission to get more information on cyber hygiene and how to be protected online. 

“The Fijian Government’s mandate as highlighted in the 5 Year and 20 Year National Development Plan is to provide universal access to information and competitive telecommunication services delivered on a secure platform,” she said. 

Ms Baravilala explained Government’s multifaceted and holistic approach in progressively realising its mandate in the ICT space and encouraged participants to explore the e-Government services under the digitalFIJI initiative such as the e-birth registration and Registrar of Companies services and that these are available on the digitalFIJI app. 

Ms Baravilala also re-emphasised the role of digital tools during this COVID-19 period and the need to download the careFIJI app and to keep our phone Bluetooth turned on.

This, coupled with other national health measures, will ensure that Fiji remains COVID-Contained. With the theme ‘We the internet’, the Global Citizens Dialogue aims to engage citizens from all walks of life in one of the most pressing and significant issues of our time, and Fiji is the first country out of the more than 70 countries in the world to deliberate on the issue. 

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