ITU needs to safeguard society from ICT abuses

GUADALAJARA (Mexico): Malaysia wants the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to relook its role and constitution in ensuring that the advancement of telecommunication — as well as information and communications technology (ICT) — does not erode the culture, values and tradition of people.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said ITU, which promotes the use and adoption of technology, ICT and the Internet, should also play an important role in countering online fraud, child pornography and the exploitation of women and children.

“We must act swiftly to preserve the commonality of cultures among us and protect society from threats brought by the abuse of technology and innovation,” he said in his policy statement delivered at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference here.

He is leading a 43-member delegation comprising government and ministry officials, including Malaysian Ambassador to Mexico Datuk Nafisah Mohamed and Malaysian telecommunications leaders to the meeting, which is held once in every four years.

Rais said ITU members must revisit their role, and that in today’s world it is not enough for ITU to just address the issues on infrastructure development, universal access, resource management, standards and the development of ICT.

“We must also consider the goodness of society. We need not be a regulator in the extreme but the concern for mankind must always be there, particularly so because it is the ITU which promotes the use and adoption of technology, ICT and the Internet,” he said.

He said that whilst governments promoted the latest technology and innovation to transform the lives of its citizens, “we also have to ensure that the very fabric of society is protected from threats brought by its misuse and abuse.”

“The Internet is no longer a mere tool to gather knowledge and communicate but is now shaping public opinion and gaining influential ground, to the extent that our cultures, values and traditions are being eroded; we must look back to our Constitution to see if it provides the means for us to take collective measures to counter this,” he said.

Rais said there is a need for ITU to harness ICT, the Internet and the tools of civilisation to safeguard the well being of children and future generations.

The conference, he said, must deliberate over how to manage the waves of social issues arising from new media, and that the challenges of social networking applications are setting new boundaries for the rights of an individual and the need for privacy laws.

“It is time for the ITU to be the catalyst to harness measures and reasonably curb the misuse and abuse of the Internet against any aggrieved party,” he said.

“Sovereign nations and governments should make no apologies for doing this, nor should we apologise for taking steps to preserve our culture, values and traditions,” he said.

He hoped that by the end of the conference, the outcome would facilitate the work of the ITU in helping member countries to manage both the positive and negative sides of the Internet. — Bernama

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