Dated: 4 March 2003
The Media Development Authority (MDA) welcomes and accepts the National Internet Advisory Committee (NIAC)'s recommendations and efforts to develop a co-regulation framework for the Internet and its initiative to create a cyber wellness movement in Singapore.
MDA supports the Committee's efforts to promote adoption of its two voluntary industry codes of practice covering content and data protection. It views such voluntary industry action as essential to ensure adequate measures are in place to protect users especially the young from objectionable content or potential harm. Industry co-regulation will also complement MDA's light-touch regulatory framework for the Internet.
It notes that some industry players have already adopted or are in the midst of incorporating the NIAC codes into their organisation codes and commend them for their efforts. But more can be done and, going forward, the MDA will work closely with the NIAC to monitor the progress and review what can be done to encourage wider industry adoption of the codes.
MDA shares the NIAC's view that, with broadband access becoming increasingly popular among Singaporeans, there is a need to make content management tools and services such as Family Access Networks (FAN) available to broadband users. FAN services are optional, hassle-free network-level Internet filtering services offered by the three main Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Currently, FAN services do not go beyond basic filtering of undesirable websites. MDA supports the NIAC's recommendation to incorporate other types of features into FAN services, such as the ability to set different levels of filtering for different users and it has been working closely with the ISPs to develop enhanced versions of their individual FAN services.
MDA urges the ISPs to place greater emphasis on developing and promoting FAN and is prepared to provide funding support under its $5 million Internet Public Education (IPE) Fund for such initiatives.
In the area of public education, MDA supports the Committee recommendations to develop wholesome and engaging web content for kids' portals that will keep young children within the safe confines of the web portal. Content developers seeking to develop such safe and positive web portals for children can also tap the MDA's IPE Fund for funding assistance.
MDA also supports the NIAC's initiative to develop a cyber wellness movement in Singapore through its newly formed Cyber Wellness Task Force. It notes that while organisations like the Parents Advisory Group for the Internet (PAGi) focus on educating parents on online safety, there is also a need for a more co-ordinated public education programme to target the young and educate them on the right values and precautions to take in cyberspace.
MDA agrees with the Committee's recommendation to support programmes such as TOUCH Community Services' Project CRuSH that inculcates online safety values among the young as such programmes can contribute significantly to the promotion of Internet safety. MDA is already providing funding support for Project CRuSH under its IPE Fund.
MDA also commends the NIAC's efforts to help disabled persons gain access to the Internet and will continue to assist the NIAC in this area.
MDA would like to thank the members of the NIAC and its three Sub-Committees for their contribution in promoting industry co-regulation and public education for the Internet in its sixth year in office. The Committee's feedback and inputs on industry trends and issues pertaining to the Internet has helped to maintain a conducive environment for the healthy growth of the Internet in Singapore.
Going forward, the MDA notes that other convergent new media services such as MMS and interactive TV are also emerging and have the potential to become as widely accepted as the Internet. To enable MDA to respond quickly to potential issues in a rapidly evolving new media landscape and promote the growth of other new media services in Singapore, the NIAC will, in future, also provide feedback and advise MDA on its policies relating to new media services and technologies. MDA looks forward to working closely with the NIAC to put in place a conducive regulatory framework for the Internet and new media services in Singapore.