No Need For Social Media Regulation

I am a regular user of Google, Web Blog, Twitter and Facebook. I want Internet and the social media to remain free as private enterprise – not under government’s control. Social media give us a chance to practice “democracy” from the bottom up. It worries me when I read a report that some of the G-8 leaders who attended the last week Deauville G-8 Summit, had tried to push for internet regulation. The new communication technology is created by private companies and individual citizen, therefore it must remain open for every one to use. I am alarmed that key journalists in Thailand have been asking the Election Commission to issue them a clear guideline on how political parties can use social media in this election campaign. Political parties and voters in Thailand should be left free to communicate with each other until the July 3 election day. How can any authoritarian leader think he/she can control the minds of 7-8 million Facebook users and over a million tweeters just in Thailand alone. It is good that the major parties are actively using social media in their election campaign. Thai voters and Party candidates do not need to have “a guideline” to communicate online. Whatever happens in social media will balance itself out after the election. I can understand why many government leaders fear social media when used effectively by young people to organize protest on the street to overthrow the corrupted authoritarian regimes such as in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. And how the social media had challenged Singapore one-party ruled in the last election. It is good that Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook who attended the e-G8 Forum in Paris before the Summit warned government leaders“to thread lightly on internet regulation because moves to tame its rough edges risk hurting its virtues”. Not only that, new Internet technologists can always find a way to undergo or bypass any government’s attempt to control Internet access. It is ironic that most governments now use Internet and social media to their benefit to run day-to-day businesses and enjoy the fruits of a booming digital economy. Then the leaders must not turn around trying to isolate out things they like about the Internet and control things they don’t like. This is unfair. If we believe in democracy/ people’s participation, then government should encourage transparency, free flow of information and two-way communication. The role the government can play in the Internet revolution is to expand access, open it for use by all its citizens free from censorship and control.

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