Tougher cyber laws urged

Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, center, speaks during the main session of Arab Media Forum in Kuwait.

Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, center, speaks during the main session of Arab Media Forum in Kuwait.

A three-day Arab Media Forum in Kuwait ended Monday with several participants calling for tougher legislation to monitor the Internet and a crack down on cyber criminals attempting to undermine the security and stability of countries.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, editor in chief of Arab News, chaired the forum’s main session that focused on the effect on society of the recent developments in telecommunication and information technology.

In his opening speech, Al-Harthi raised several issues that helped participants place the issue in context. He also said that the media should play a more responsible role in promoting peace and stability in Arab countries.

He raised several questions about the media, including whether there has been an improvement in content, a determination of moral standards in publishing, and whether it was correct to publish news on social media if an individual has a certain number of followers.

Al-Harthi also asked whether social media is powerful enough to cause the downfall of governments, and what moral standards should be instituted to oversee the use of social media in the absence of monitoring regimes and individual conscience.

Addressing the forum, the Kuwait Minister of Justice, Endowments and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub Al-Sanea emphasized the importance of cyber laws, which were being enacted by the Kuwaiti government to prevent crimes.

“Responsible freedom and freedom of expression are allowed in Kuwait,” the minister said. He called for joint efforts to prevent the dissemination of “destructive” thoughts and ideas on the Internet, which were endangering society. There was need for new regulations on social media, electronic publishing and related issues, the minister said.

Salem Al-Uthaina, chairman and chief executive officer of the Communications and Information Technology Commission in Kuwait, stressed the need to protect the security of Internet networks.

“There is an electronic war taking place between the East and West and many countries have taken precautions to protect their systems from being harmed by this war,” Al-Uthaina said. “We want to ensure freedom of the Internet with security.”

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah attended the opening session. Other key participants included Bahraini Information Minister Isa Al-Hammadi, former foreign minister of Morocco Mohammed bin Essa, the Bahraini king’s adviser Nabeel Al-Hamar and Saudi Shoura Council member Isa Al-Ghaith.

Muetaz Kaukash from Jordan, a technology expert, said there are more than 35,000 Twitter accounts that support terrorism. He stressed the need for laws to prevent the publishing of video clips showing terrorists killing their victims.

Anoud Al-Rasheed, professor of media at Kuwait University, emphasized the role of social media in politics. “It has played a big role in the success of a number of candidates in Kuwait elections,” she said.

Several media leaders including editors in chief of Arab and Gulf newspapers and executives of satellite channels took part in the event. During meetings with these participants, the Kuwaiti prime minister said the media’s role should be to spread knowledge, raise awareness and promote enlightenment.


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