Teaching young to navigate Internet safely key in tackling prohibited content online: Rahayu

Ms Rahayu Mahzam highlighted that blocking every website with prohibited content is not possible given the porous nature of the Internet. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Online content that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public order or public security is prohibited, said Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Rahayu Mahzam on Tuesday (Aug 3).

But as blocking every website with such content is not possible given the porous nature of the Internet, teaching the young to navigate the Internet safely is essential, she added.

She said that in determining what is prohibited material, one factor taken into account is "whether the material depicts detailed or relished acts of extreme violence or cruelty".

She added that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has powers under the Broadcasting Act to direct Internet content providers to take down prohibited material, as well as to ask Internet service providers to block access to websites that contain such material.

Ms Rahayu was responding to Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson), who had asked if the Government will more proactively police the Internet and block violent content that can be accessible to children and youth here.

IMDA requires Internet service providers to offer Internet parental control services to their subscribers, said Ms Rahayu. "Parents may subscribe to such services to manage their children's access to websites and online services."

But she added that given the dynamic and borderless nature of the Internet, Singapore cannot realistically block every website with undesirable content, and stressed how it is equally important to teach the young here how to navigate the Internet safely.

"This is why our schools conduct cyber wellness lessons for students, where students learn to identify and avoid inappropriate online content," she said.

Ms Rahayu noted how the Media Literacy Council (MLC), a group of experts and professionals from various sectors which spearheads public education on media literacy and cyber wellness, has been promoting safe and responsible online behaviour.

She said that the MLC has developed resources and public education activities to encourage online users, including the young, to exercise judgment about the content that they come across online.

Based on MLC's survey, its 2020 Better Internet Campaign had an awareness rate of 60 per cent for educational tips on issues such as positive Internet usage and digital footprint, said Ms Rahayu.

But she added that there is room for improvement, and the Government will continue to build on existing efforts.

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