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Internet Problems Today Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by p, Singapore Sep 5, 2005
Technology , Digital Literacy , Digital Citizenship   Opinions


Internet Problems Today As the line separating fact from fiction blurs all over this world, we begin to ask ourselves where this age of technology is taking us. The phenomenon of the internet, a basic system linking computers all over the world, once an expensive novelty to many is now ubiquitous and completely essential.

Emails, MSN Messenger, Friendster, Google, Blogs, IRC, Amazon and EBay are bringing about a revolution in the way we keep in touch with friends, meet new ones, work in the office, research for schoolwork or look for the latest glitzy MP3 player. At the same time, people are hacking into personal accounts to blackmail or exploit, to spread viruses that paralyse entire companies. People are flagrantly distributing the latest movies over sites such as Kazaa and E-Donkey, creating pop-ups and spam that both entice and annoy and are arranging sex with minors or unsuspecting girls. As Internet crime and other misdemeanors increase daily, the players continue to get bolder.

Perhaps we would want to blame the legal system. The rate of technological advances is superseding the pace at which the legal system can keep up with. It simply takes too long for the law to come up with new laws against new crimes. For many of the crimes that are being committed online there are general principles in the law that encompass these new crimes.

Piracy is a crime against the intellectual property rights of the copyright holder and this is the case whether it is conducted online or offline. It is still true that the law has not worked itself extensively enough around areas of E-Commerce Law. Which country’s laws should the criminal be facing if he sat by a computer in Singapore, arranging a money laundering transaction over a server in Bermuda, while the exchange of funds took place in Germany, and was caught in Mexico? The lack of a universally agreed set of laws in this area only serves to worsen the problem of jurisdiction.

Perhaps we could point a finger at the government. You aren’t doing enough to educate us on how to be safe on the internet. Maybe we do not need such a paternalistic approach when it is blatantly obvious what it is we need to do. Anti virus and spy ware detectors, like Ad Aware and Norton, should be a regular feature with updates to keep the computers clean. Suspicious emails which come from unknown sources or unfamiliar names asking for passwords or credit card information should be ignored or even reported to the police. Net Nanny or Family Patrol type software help monitor and block off objectionable websites that your family should not be exposed to. Where the role of the government has been diminished it is up to self regulation to step up the effort and protect yourself and your loved ones.

Sex Crimes and Youth
This paragraph is devoted to all manners of sex crimes online. Temptation, seduction, raging hormones and curiosity are key reasons in minors viewing of pornography as well as cyber predators who rape minors. Parents, older siblings, teachers and friends should be the important players who need to guide minors one way or the other. The solution is not to take hard controlling measures that will only make the forbidden fruit taste sweeter but rather to take soft measures like education, care and guidance. A liberated environment where sex can be discussed openly and candidly will help to reduce some of the curiosity and temptation that the minors may experience. At the same time, family values may also be imparted. It is unrealistic to expect parents to do 24/7 supervision. They need to work, they have different schedules from their children and aren’t as adept at the computer as those who they intend to monitor.

Legal or not?
Right at this moment I bet you are downloading some music or video clip file from a P2P sharing software and are proceeding to save it in the latest Ipod. You don’t really care whether it is illegal or not and you think that it’s ok since it’s for personal consumption. You think that those media companies have plenty enough money to go around. One reason why I think the public hardly speaks out against online piracy is because it would be hypocritical to do so. It seems as though only the media industry is up in arms about it. It’s clear enough why consumers aren’t complaining when “The Lord of the Rings” is selling at US$6, whereas the original is going for US$39.90. It hurts the artist’s incentive and it is quite, quite illegal. However, given the way this is all going I am predicting that one day all of this P2P software is going to completely circumvent the law and exploit the loopholes. After all, where there is a demand there will be supply.

The rules of the web are that there are hardly any rules of the web. It would be best if we treated the internet problems as a global responsibility but managed it at the individual level properly before we attempt anything large-scale.



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