Barnes & Noble Computer Books
  CNET : Internet : Guidebook


"No one really controls the Net, so it can cut both ways. But it generally does not cut the credible."

-- Dinesh Nair, Internet security consultant and cracking hobbyist.

 »  The hidden epidemic
 »  Grappling with a new medium
Grappling with the new medium

Nair said that if the Government is serious about curbing Net abuse it should also take a more participatory role in the Internet, especially in mailing lists and newsgroups and in having consistently updated Web sites.

"Last August, when there were rumors of rioting in the capital city, the Government could have countered it by setting up a live Web cam in the affected area and beaming it on the Internet," he said.

In the incident, the Internet was rife with rumors that disgruntled Indonesian workers had armed themselves and were rioting in Kuala Lumpur, sending city dwellers into panic provision buying. Government action was swift. Four people were arrested under the harsh Internal Security Act for allegedly spreading the rumors via email. All four later claimed not guilty to charges of causing public fear, which carries a two-year jail sentence or a fine, or both. Their cases are still pending in court.

"If the Government had issued an official Internet response, it would have at least had caused some to pause and think before forwarding the mail," said Nair. He suggested that the Government should assign people to build its credibility on the Net by posting responses on matters of public concern. "It takes time to build that credibility, and you can do that only by being involved. Respond to criticism, tell your side of the story and let the public decide," he said.

Nair also added that the Information Ministry should perhaps play the role of coordinating the various Government Web sites, some of which are in dire need of new and updated information. "The Government is fast realizing that the advent of 'information at your fingertips' applies to them also. Lots of people are asking for this, and refusal or failure to provide this only brings up dissatisfaction," he noted.

In light of the apparent rise in Net abuse, the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia recently announced plans to introduce a Code of Ethics for Internet users by year's end.

Internet surfers are, however, skeptical whether such a code can be enforced, or even if it merely serves as a guideline, whether Net users will bother reading and conforming to the code. They point to the fact that Malaysia already has various legislation in place to curb Net abuse, including a Computer Crime Act and Communications and Multimedia Act; the latter calls for steep fines on the offender. Even the police have formed a technology crime unit to handle such criminal violations.

Underlying the government's concerns is the belief that the Internet has become an influential force to sway public opinion. If Malaysia wants to participate in molding that opinion then it must jump in with both feet, not hand out laws from top-down. How else can any government encourage free flow of information and expect it to come with only prescribed political, social and cultural norms?

"No one really controls the Net, so it can cut both ways. But it generally does not cut the credible. Not everyone is going to agree with your views and some will definitely point out your flaws. The trick is to show the good points, your strengths and win them over. If you attempt to stifle this criticism, you're only giving the impression that you can't rise above your flaws," concludes Nair.



Links: CNET USA CNET Singapore CNET Hong Kong CNET Taiwan CNET Malaysia CNET in Asia About Tricast Jobs at Tricast Snap!
   Home | Contact CNET Malaysia | Contact Ad Sales

Back to top

Copyright © 1998-99 Tricast (BVI) Limited. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1995-99 CNET, Inc. All rights reserved.