Mr Speaker, our children and youths are digital natives who have access to the Internet from an early age. As much as possible, the Government will ensure they can do so safely. This includes protecting them from undesirable material such as violent content.
Under the Internet Code of Practice, content which is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public order or public security is prohibited. In considering what is prohibited material, one factor taken into account is “whether the material depicts detailed or relished acts of extreme violence or cruelty”. 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 direct Internet Service Providers to block access to websites that contain such material.
IMDA also requires Internet Service Providers to offer Internet parental control services to their subscribers. Parents may subscribe to such services to manage their children’s access to websites and online services.
Given the dynamic and borderless nature of the Internet, we cannot realistically block every website with undesirable content. It is equally important to teach our young 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. The Media Literacy Council (MLC) has also been promoting safe and responsible online behaviour. They have developed resources and public education activities to encourage online users, including our 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% for educational tips on issues such as positive Internet usage and digital footprint.
There is clearly room to improve, and we will continue to build on existing efforts.