Émission de Géraldine Geoffroy
Diffusée le 13 février 2023 sur Radio One dans le cadre de la journée de la radio
Émission de Géraldine Geoffroy
Diffusée le 13 février 2023 sur Radio One dans le cadre de la journée de la radio
Par le Professeur Bernard REBER
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) et Sciences PO, Paris, France
S’inscrire sur: https://bit.ly/demo-eco
3 sessions de 3h30
28 juin, 12 juillet et 26 juillet 2022
De 16h à 19h30
Visant un public large : enseignants-chercheurs, étudiants, société civile organisée, fonctionnaires, syndicats, porteurs d’enjeux, industriels, citoyens…
Organisé par L’Université de Maurice
Avec le soutien de la Virtual Mobility Scheme de la Higher Education Commission
Contact: Christina Chan-Meetoo –
La transition écologique nécessaire pour réussir à faire face au réchauffement climatique requiert de faire preuve de beaucoup d’imagination démocratique et institutionnelle. En effet, il faut pouvoir mobiliser au bon niveau toutes les responsabilités, individuelles et collectives. Si ces responsabilités sont communes, selon les acteurs, elles sont également différentes. D’où le défi de savoir combiner changements de comportements individuels sur tous les plans et modes de production et de régulation collectifs, à tous les échelons territoriaux, du local aux Conférences des nations unies sur les changements climatiques (COP).
Les assemblées citoyennes pour le climat, associant de diverses manières citoyens ordinaires, experts et décideurs ont vu le jour ces dernières années. Ce fut le cas par exemple avec la Convention française citoyenne pour le climat (2019-2021), à la suite du Grand débat national provoqué par la crise des gilets jaunes, suite à une augmentation de taxe sur les carburants.
L’enjeu de ce séminaire est de bien comprendre les exigences pratiques et théoriques de ces modes de participation et de délibération innovants. Il offre à la fois le recul historique et comparatif d’expériences tenues dans diverses parties du monde. Allant au-delà de la description, il inscrit ces expériences au sein des réflexions philosophiques sur la démocratie délibérative, les rapports entre sciences et société ou encore l’innovation et la recherche responsables.
Les cas traités et les choix de gouvernance et d’institutionnalisation de ces modes de participation seront mis à l’épreuve de défis mauriciens. La République de Maurice pourrait-elle innover de façon originale en ces matières pour répondre à sa transition écologique, tirant parti de son pluralisme ?
The two commissioned reports which were cited during the show are:
It is a large project, but I have done my best to present these provisional conclusions in non-technical language and at reasonable length. They are not set in stone. I hope that the publication of the report will be followed by a period of discussion and debate over its proposals, amongst the media, lawyers and judges, MPs, civil society and members of the public. I will be happy to return later in the year, after considering all responses, to make a final set of legislative proposals.
Rodertson also put emphasis on the need for a comprehensive approach rather than a pieceameal reform:
In my lecture on Developments in Media Law, delivered in the Sir Harilal Vaghjee Memorial Hall, I expressed the view that Mauritius would benefit from a new and comprehensive media law rather than piecemeal reform.
On 27 May 2021, Supreme Court judges D. Chan Kan Cheong and K.D. Gunesh-Balaghee delivered their judgement in the case of SEEGUM J v THE STATE OF MAURITIUS 2021 SCJ 162.
Seegum had been prosecuted before the Intermediate Court on 5 counts for the offence of “using an information and communication service for the purpose of causing annoyance”, in breach of sections 46(h)(ii) and 47 of the ACT Act. Two counts were dismissed and the trial had proceeded on three counts all related to “wilfully and unlawfully using an information and communication service for the purpose of causing annoyance to another person” on a Facebook forum under Section 46(h)(ii) of the ICTA, which read as follows at the time of the alledged offence:
“46. Offences Any person who -(…)
(h) uses an information and communication service, including telecommunication service, –
(ii) for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to any person;
shall commit an offence.”
Seegum had been found guilty by the Intermediate Court and fined to Rs 15,000 for each of the 3 counts (total of Rs 45,000). He appealed against the judgement on several grounds, one of them being that “that section 46(h)(ii) of the ICTA breaches section 10(4) of the Constitution”. That section of the Constitution states that:
(4) No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence that is severer in degree or description than the maximum penalty that might have imposed for that offence at the time when it was committed.
Seegum’s counsel argued that “causing annoyance” suffers from vagueness in the formulation of the ICT Act and causes uncertainty. It does not allow the ordinary citizen to determine which conduct may be considered as causing annoyance and whether a particular conduct will fall within the purview of section 46(h)(ii) of the ICT Act.
In their statement, the two Supreme Court judges upheld this argument, recalling that a number of past cases cases have allowed courts (in Mauritius and elsewhere) to reaffirm the well established principle that criminal laws must be certain and formulated with sufficient precision to enable the citizen to regulate his conduct. They write that: “for a criminal law to pass the test of constitutionality under section 10(4), it must be so worded that it allows the ordinary citizen to determine what constitutes an offence and what acts and omissions will render him liable to prosecution.”
In this blogpost, you will find the link to my final submission to the ICTA on its proposed amendments to the ICT Act. In the last section of my paper, I include my answers (reproduced below) to the specific questions of the ICTA in its Consultation Paper.
14.1 What are your views on the present approach of self-regulation of social networks by social media administrators themselves where they decide to remove an online content or not based on their own usage policy and irrespective of your domestic law?
Countries around the world face issues concerning circulation of posts which are potentially in breach of their domestic laws on social media platforms. There is, at present, no fully satisfactory response which is proposed or effectively deployed in any democratic country. Only non-democratic countries have recourse to drastic measures aiming to block and/or intercept all of their own citizens’ online communications and social media traffic in an attempt to regulate the same. As a democratic country, Mauritius cannot use methods which would be more suitable for non-democratic regimes.
It is true that the content being circulated online which either targets or is created by Mauritian citizens on social media may be in breach of domestic laws. However, an objective assessment of the extent of such illicit content being circulated needs to be conducted to determine the extent of abuse and/or misuse as already specified in the above paper,
It should also be recalled that social media platforms offer various levels of privacy, meaning that one may categorise the online communication sphere created by these into multiple sub-categories, which can tentatively be broadly listed as follows:
There are obviously more levels of control which are generally available on some social media platforms in between those three broad categories. Suffice to say that the first level (online national public sphere) is the one which should command the most attention, followed by the second level (targeted public circles) whereas the third level (private circles) may be considered the equivalent of private conversations between private individuals.
Individuals and entities who have large follower bases in the online national public sphere and targeted public circles are the ones who should be more subject to scrutiny as they have the potential for virality and their speech is tantamount to public speech, which may be evaluated against prevailing domestic laws.
Intense debates have taken place after the occurrence of major incidents linked to social media accounts of public figures such as former US President Donald Trump. The latter’s account was shut down on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook after the Capitol invasion in January 2021 when he lost elections. Despite multiple posts which contained fake news and racist comments during his presidency, he was only banned from social media platforms when he lost the last elections, thus sparking debates about whether all major public figures around the world would henceforth be liable to similar treatment by the platforms. This was one of the most prominent cases entrusted by Facebook to its own Oversight Board for review. The Facebook Oversight Board published its ruling on 5th May 2021 and upheld the decision but requested that Facebook review the decision within the next six months and also develop clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression.
On 14 April 2021, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) released a Consultation Paper on proposed amendments to the ICT Act for regulating the use and addressing the abuse and misuse of Social Media in Mauritius. In a nutshell, the paper makes a proposal to amend the law so that all internet communication would have to pass through a centralised proxy server managed by the agency and citizens will have to install a digital self-signed certificate on their devices to allow the server to access, decrypt, segregate social media traffic for analysis for investigative purposes. The technical toolset would be managed by an Enforcement Unit within the ICTA and there would be a National Digital Ethics Committee to decide on how to deal with “illegal and harmful content”.
There are numerous issues with this proposal. The most salient one being that the mechanism would make Mauritius a blanket surveillance state, which is incompatible with the concept of democracy. In fact, no other democracy in the world uses such a blanket system to intercept citizens’ communication in order to regulate social media. Below is a more detailed analysis of the content.
– What is the context for the proposed amendments?
– Preliminary comment about the context
– What are those proposed amendments to the ICT Act?
– Comment about the philosophy underlying the proposal
– What does the Constitution say?
– What are other democratic states doing or trying to do?
– Other key questions posed by the proposed amendments
– What are potential alternatives to the proposed amendments?
There is a perceived need for regulation of social media in Mauritius. The stated objective is to combat illegal and harmful content (and comment) in a way that is not dependent on international social media companies. These platforms are deemed to be not sufficiently responsive to requests from the authorities in terms of:
The paper states that a “minority of individuals or organised groups” are at fault and that “The issue at hand is when these abuses, even though perpetrated by few individuals/groups, go viral, the damage created is very far reaching.”