[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]
On January 5th, the Sydney Morning Herald published a story titled, “Dial X for Optus.” The feature recounted the story, by now well known in Vanuatu, of how Optus collaborated with certain Pacific Islands nations to make tens of millions of dollars in profit from the pornography industry.
“The scheme,” wrote Vanda Carson, “allowed the telcos to bill customers premium rates for sexually explicit calls or X-rated downloads when they dialled the country codes” of many Pacific nations, Vanuatu included. “Optus was part of the partnership of telcos which acted as gatekeepers in the porn trade between the US and Europe and small Pacific islands.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Optus illegally appropriated 100 Vanuatu telephone numbers and kept all revenues generated by them.
None of that could happen today. With the creation of a functioning and effective Telecommunications Regulator, we now have proper oversight on how Vanuatu’s communications resources are used. The government of Vanuatu has made great strides in ensuring that all telephone operators manage their systems responsibly and efficiently.
Now we need to do the same for our Internet resources.