Best defence against negative influence – e-safety education



The government has to empower the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to delete defamatory and racist remarks on social media.

Faculty of computer science and information technology of Universiti Putra Malaysia Prof Madya Dr Nur Izura Udzir said the move could curb negative content from being widely spread in cyberspace.

It is also important to create a safe Internet environment for everyone, especially children and adolescents who are susceptible to pornographic content and violence capable of damaging their thoughts.

Dr Nur Izura Udzir

Nur Izura, who is also chairman of Sekeluarga Tolak Pornografi (SToP) campaign (Family-decline-Pornography Campaign), said the National Population and Family Development Board Survey in 2014 found that 35.3 per cent of teenagers were exposed to pornography.

About 60.8 per cent of adolescents gain access to pornography via Internet, 35 per cent through smartphones while 20 per cent are from compact discs (CDs) and pornographic video discs (VCDs).

Removal of defamatory and obscene display in social media should be implemented to eradicate extreme Internet use which can lead to addiction to threatening physical and mental health, as well as controlling exposure to cyber threats such as online fraud, cyber harassment, cyber-theft, bullying and others.

In 2018, MCMC received 237 cases related to inappropriate content and as of March this year, 110 cases have been reported to the agency.

The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) under Section 211 (Prohibition on Empowerment of Inappropriate Content) has provisions which enable enforcement action to be taken against content application services or individuals who use content application services to provide incentive, obscene, fake, threatening content or its ugly nature with intent to disturb, abet, threaten or harass any person.

A person convicted of such offence shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both, and may also be fined further RM1,000 for each day or part of a day of offence proceeded after conviction.

MCMC has no magic button

MCMC’s chief compliance officer Zulkarnain Mohd Yassin said the Internet is a borderless world with billions of content uploaded globally within 60 seconds.

This makes it tough for the agency to monitor every content uploaded on the Internet especially on social media.

MCMC also does not conduct widespread monitoring of misconduct on the Internet and social media, in line with the government’s stand in protecting the freedom, rights and privacy of Malaysians.

“MCMC does not have magic buttons to delete any content uploaded on websites, apps and social media overnight.

“In addition to the restrictions on websites in violation of the laws of Malaysia, MCMC has also worked with social media platform providers such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to remove negative content found to have violated the law,” he explained.

Exercising self-control is very important and the agency wants to educate the public towards using the Internet positively as a culture or way of life, he added.

MCMC also outlines the use of the Internet in a positive way based on three aspects namely security, vigilance and responsibility, with emphasis on self-regulatory aspects, to protect themselves or others from negative exposure.

System has limitations

Rafiq Sharman Khamis

Web application developer Rafiq Sharman Khamis said that if it wants to authorise the removal of content to MCMC, the modus operandi or method the agency will use should be refined to be effective.

He said the work of controlling Internet content was difficult but the parties could learn the methods used by application providers such as Facebook.

Facebook uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that can detect user-uploaded images whether appropriate or not for general viewing.

The use of live applications became a hot debate among Netizens following a shooting incident at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 lives on March 15.

Content uploaded through the application is difficult to control as it is ‘live’ and downloadable.

However, Facebook reportedly removed more than 1.2 million videos of the attack that were uploaded in the social media site and blocked it from being displayed on the platform.

Rafiq Sharman said that each system has limitations and still requires humans to decide whether the content can be used or not.

According to him, the most appropriate filtering needs to be done by humans and this requires the users themselves to respond to the system or report to the authorities.

“The tighter we build our systems to cope with the information, the irresponsible ones will continue to look for loopholes to ‘exploit’ the existing system,” he explained.

A safe Internet environment needs to be created especially for children and adolescents who are susceptible to pornographic content and violence. File Photo: Bernama

Negative content control

Nur Izura lists the basic steps people can take, especially institutions and parents, to control the negative content.

She said the institution could restrict access to certain sites by controlling the configuration settings at ‘gateway’ Internet while parents and domestic users could install special software in devices such as computers and smartphones.

Among the software are Qustodio, Net Nanny, Symantec Norton Family Premier and Kaspersky Safe Kids.

Parents can also use software provided by communications companies like MaxisONE Kid, and The Digi Family Safety apps, Kidslox and HyppTV Parental Control.

“Additionally, make sure the ‘pop-up blocker’ and child mode are activated on the device used,” she said.

For YouTube site, parents can choose Restricted Mode to filter out inappropriate videos and use safe search engines dedicated to kids like Kiddle, AskKids and DuckDuckGo as well as constant checks on the websites visited by children.

While such measures may be helpful however, it is not a comprehensive or lasting solution.

“Kids grow up and they will be more proficient and knowledgeable about the intricacies of setting up the Internet and gadgets.

“What’s more important is educating children about the Internet and its risks, as well as the threats that await,” said Nur Izura.

They also need to be exposed to Internet safety such as websites and permitted activities, the importance of safeguarding personal information including the importance of keeping the password secret and choosing passwords that are hard to detect.

“Teach them to tell parents if something inappropriate happens on the Internet … and encourage children to feel shy and to have self-respect and self-esteem,” she added.

In addition, she said, religious and moral education are the best fortress of negative influence and parents need to be open and always communicate with children. – Bernama