INTERNET: Playing by the Rules

by Earl Bousquet
From Sunday Mirror February 4, 1996

Internet, also called the "Information Super Highway" is up and running, providing home computer users access to an endless stream of information. It's a veritable revolution in the information industry, which Guyana and other developing countries cannot afford to be left out of. However, as has been publicly indicated by government officials, its access into Guyana has to be orderly.

All the govermnent has said in its release is that it would like the entry of Intemet into Guyana to be within the context of the present efforts to introduce order on the local airwaves. A National Broadcasting Policy is being finalised by govemment for public discussion before adoption and the hope is that the Intemet debate will take place within that broader context.

There's no need to whip up the fears being generated by those who claim that the government is trying to keep Intemet out of Guyana. Nothing could be further from the truth. Guyana isn't the only government expressing concern about the potential misuse of the advanced information technology provided by the Intemet. Just a few days ago France expressed concern about the need for rules and guidelines because of a specific case involving the by-passing of local laws and diminish ing of copyright effect. Germany too, has recently taken steps to have an American company remove offensive sexually explicit pornographic material from the Internet because of its injury to nation's sense of decency.

As Prime Minister Sam Hinds also said in a statement a few days ago, nation states also have to be concerned about externally generated utilisation of their air space and have a right to ensure that those who care to use such air space do so within prescribed approaches such as payment of licenses and fees.

While Internet opens up the global information marketplace and puts information of all types at the fingertips of computer users, there has been sufficient proof in its sbort history that some of the information put up on tbe world-wide web can be threatening to national security and injurious to decent living-such as information of how to make bombs and propagation of child pornography.

Yes, Internet is here to stay. But in an age where our airwaves are already being used for transmission of "phone sex" and "cyber sex ", shouldn't the authorities move to prescribe the rules under which it will operate here before we get stuck in the web? I think so. What about you?