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Internet Governance

IGF issues – Dubai “Gulf News” (Friday Nov 20, 2009)

On my homeward flight I read Dubai’s “Gulf News” (Friday, Nov 20) which included two articles which highlighted IGF issues related to the improper use of the internet – cybercrime and improper use of social networking sites. The issue for us in the Pacific is the lack of any laws to address issues such as these should cybercriminals use our networks for activity which in other countries is dealt with by the courts?

The cybercrime article was entitled “Cybercriminal gets six months jail for job hoax: Accused promoted Education Ministry job on a fake website”. (Here is an abridged version of the article) “Dubai: A visitor has been jailed for six months after he promoted a teacher’s job in the Education Minister on a hoax website and defrauded a London-based teacher. [The judge ordered that he will be deported after his jail term]. The fraudster had earlier denied indulging in a cybercrime, which involved designing a hoax website claiming it to be that of the UAE’s Education Ministry, promoting a teaching job and defrauding US$4,100 from a London-based Slovakian teacher.  [The accused was charged by the Public Prosecution who asked the jury to impose the toughest possible punishment applicable. The teacher claimed she referred to an email address on the site which belonged to the accused and that he pocketed her money.] “The site advertised the job application as being issued by the Labour Ministry and promoted the Education Ministry’s teaching job. The accused [and a number of other unidentified accomplices] were charged with committing a cybercrime by abusing the internet and defrauding and swindling [the teacher’s] money. .. An Emirati lieutenant from Dubai’s Police section combating cybercrime testified that they tracked down the email of the accused before they arrested him.”

The second article was a whole page dedicated to “Letters to the Editor” about an earlier Gulf News article (Nov 18) “Man accused of defaming former employee” where “a business partner [from Dubai ] admitted cursing and defaming his former employee on Facebook during the first-of-its-kind trial involving the world wide electronic social networking tool. This is believed to be the first court hearing which involves suspects abusing Facebook for unlawful acts, to be highlighted in the media.” Unfortunately only parts of the original article were printed, but there were 23 letters to the editor commenting on the pros and cons of the social networking site and some suggestion of censorship. Some examples of the letters reflect views similar to those which were raised in the IGF “Social networking and privacy” session I attended.

Be careful
Face book is a social networking site that is open to millions of people. Whatever you put on the internet would somehow be read by people as the information gets passed on from one person to another very quickly. A person should always think twice before uploading some information or document on Facebook. As an advice, never put anything that is related to work or anything that would insult somebody. Yes, we are entitled to our own opinions, but many cultures and people are not open to criticism, jokes or sharing of personal views. (Mr Q, Dubai)

Continuing issues
Facebook is not the problem. It someone wants to cause harm to another, he or she will find a way. Libel and slander existed before Facebook and they will continue, whether the social networking website exists or not. (Ms A, Dubai)

Budding community
We all have to utilize and use Facebook in the right way! Blocking the website is not a good decision. If it is blocked, tomorrow another communication website will be launched with a different name. Instead of blocking it, education people on how to use it in the correct manner. It’s a social community – it someone doesn’t like it, do not register yourself there. (Mr S, Ras Al Khaimah).

Stop them
Electronic networks allow users to use harsh words which can easily hurt of offend someone. The new generation exploits such freedom! Values, respect and ethics don’t matter in such forums which makes the users extremely vulnerable. Please stop the use of such networks. (Mrs S, Dubai).

Changing times
Let us take a step back and see why Facebook was created. It is used by millions of people around the world to keep in touch with friends and family. It forms a platform through which people can share photos and videos. It has changes how people communicate. If certain individuals take advantage of this freedom and instigate others, it is not the fault of the network or of other users. If we have a problem with certain people on Facebook, we should either report them to the moderators, or personally modify our accounts and avoid them. (A reader, Dubai).