Undeniably, we Malaysians are living in the Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0 Astoundingly Internet has taken the universe by storm. Needless to say, it is the trend of senior citizens and young generations jumping onto the band wagon, adapting to the new technologies of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in communicating, learning, socialising, getting information and attaining knowledge, contributing to the cyber world without boundaries. This is the global village where the community is linked by telecommunications.
Every day, people are connected through various technological gadgets or devices like computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and social media platforms with the advancement of big data, Wi-Fi and hotspots anywhere, thus reducing the digital divide across the nation.
This has certainly brought tremendous social change in human communication as, in the cyber world, we communicate faceless virtually as compared to face-to-face communication in our daily lives. Besides, we tend to share information and exchange opinions or views fast and furious on the Internet, social media or social networking sites such as blogs, forums and chat applications through our digital devices.
Moreover, numerous and catchy social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube and others are captivating us and the new generations, creating wonders; yet it can be harmful to the netizens if this is not monitored.
In fact, parents should take extra precaution and monitor their children’s activities exploring and surfing the Internet in ensuring their safety against negative acts of bad perpetrators waiting to prey on their victims in the cyber world.
Alarming cybercrimes and unwanted online experiences in Malaysia
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), in an Internet user survey, highlighted that the number of children aged 5 to 17 who use the Internet had increased by 155 per cent from 2016, and yet, to our dismay, parents’ awareness on parental control had decreased from 62.4 per cent in 2018 to 53.4 per cent in 2020. Well, only 34 per cent of parents had used parental control to protect their children in cyber space in 2020. It is devastating as, in the era of globalisation, cybercrimes have taken place, alarming and creating fear among netizens.
Fundamentally, cybercrimes include fraud, scamming, spamming, hacking personal accounts, pornography, child pornography, paedophile acts, cybergrooming, sexting, invasion of privacy, identity theft and the dark web. Sadly, most cybercrimes are attacks on vulnerable victims like children and youths who are fragile and easily succumb to the influences and bad lies of the faceless beast on the web.
These cyber criminals such as paedophiles, pimps or human traffickers will resort to blackmailing, sending harassment messages and threatening the victims to expose or viral their nude pictures, and sexting text or private data across the social media sites by humiliating, and causing emotional and mental distress to their victims. Tragically, these culprits act behind the face of anonymity.
Parents must strive together, be proactive against negative acts on the Internet
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri shared the findings by the Malaysian government in partnership with ECPAT International Interpol and Unicef that a total of 24 per cent of children surveyed had come across sexual content online through advertisements, pop-ups, social media feeds, search engines and messaging apps.
She said all parties should help to curtail the problem so that the new generations will not be subjected to sexual abuse. For that matter, MCMC had taken stringent action in restricting and blocking child pornography websites in combating paedophile cases and sexual assault. The offenders could be charged under the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017.
The children, youths and new generations should be educated on digital media literacy so that they are aware and able to protect themselves against any mishap or danger in cyberspace. The battle should be seriously and continuously waged by parents or guardians and parental control should not be neglected as they are the close kin of their children. As the saying goes, watch before you leap. Prevention is better than cure.
Enforce stringent regulations against perpetrators in cyberspace
The government, including authorities such as the Communications and Digital Ministry, MCMC and other enforcement bodies should work together vigorously by imposing heavy regulations and severe policies not only to combat cybercrimes but also to catch the perpetrators so that they do not act wild and carefree in cyberspace. The perpetrators should be brought to justice. This is vital in safeguarding the cyberspace against malpractices, violence, sexual abuse and unethical activities in ensuring good, ethical social vibes on the Internet.
This is to ensure monitoring and checking undesirable activities in protecting children, women and new generations against cybercrimes.
It is hoped that cyberspace, which supports several social media platforms, is safe for utilisation by netizens and young generations in accessing information, providing learning and developmental resources and social interaction as well as discussing any issue across the globe.
Everybody should want to make sure that we have the cyber tools necessary to investigate cybercrimes, and to be prepared to defend against them, and to bring people to justice who commit. – Janet Reno, one-time attorney general of the United States.
Norazlinda Mohammad is Senior Lecturer (Journalism) Communication and Media Studies of College of Computing, Informatics and Media at UiTM Melaka Alor Gajah branch.