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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Virtually too much smut on the Internet

I REFER to Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye’s letter “Tender loving care will work wonders” (The Star, March 4) in which he said “the influence of pornography through the Internet is also a factor that cannot be ignored and this has led to the emergence of many social ills.” And it was also reported two days later that a 14 year-old girl who was involved in a rape case admitted receiving and sharing such material with friends and experimented the acts.

There is a possible correlation between the dissemination of such negative material with the increase in the dumping of babies of late. No matter how well we deliver sex education at schools (besides moral and religion education) it will not work if we still allow such negative material on the Internet.

Youngsters will be still be exposed to negative material that can influence them to commit immoral acts. This could be among the root causes of such social ills.

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has promised to continue with the study on negative impacts of the Internet.

Probably facts and figures can justify certain initiatives before implementing or imposing new rulings. However, no serious move has been taken in the past six months on this issue since he aired his concern.

A study by Symantec shows that children search for “sex” (fourth) and “porn” (sixth) besides videos, games and friends (as reported in The Star on Aug 13).

This reveals that kids are easily exposed to negative elements on the Internet if it is used without proper guidance and control. Obviously, if the same study is conducted in Malaysia, we can anticipate the same results.

Although most users do not agree on the installing of filters at the country’s Internet gateways, filtering pornography and obscenity should be considered.

The “MSC Malaysia Bill of Guarantees specifies that the Internet will not be censored to ensure the success of the MSC Malaysia initiative” said Pikom (Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia) chairman David Wong recently. However, we should not sacrifice our future generation by saying that we cannot do anything due to this commitment.

Parents in China begged their Government to protect their children from obscenity and supported the move for Internet filters. Unfortunately, the failure of this “Green Dam” project is being seen here as justification not to proceed with any move to censor the Internet including pornography and obscenity.

The idea of letting parents or cybercafes voluntarily install their own filtering software, mainly on pornography and obscenity, will not be efficient. Cybercafes will not do that due to business interests. In addition, some kids are smart enough to break such filters installed by their parents.

The impact of negative elements on the Internet is massive.

Hence, it is time now to filter pornography and obscenity at Malaysia’s Internet gateways. The distribution of such negative material via other electronic mediums such as hand-phones should be stopped too. Our telcos should work with the Government to curb this negative element and I appeal to the Government to take this seriously to safeguard our nation.

SHAHIDA SULAIMAN,

Penang.

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