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Telco aims to provide safer connectivity for youth in M'sia

Publication Date : 13-02-2014


Telenor Group is projecting that an estimated 500 million children in its emerging Asia markets will be accessing the Internet for the first time via mobile in the coming decade.

The Norweigian telco, the parent company of Malaysia’s DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, said this in conjunction with Safer Internet Day on Tuesday.

Within the next three years alone, Telenor expects up to 85 million children will be introduced to the Internet via mobile in its global markets.

The Malaysian Education Blueprint targeted for students from 10,000 schools nationwide to have access to the Internet by last year.

In celebration of global Safer Internet Day, Telenor Group is lending its voice to “create a better Internet together”.

In particular, Telenor is prioritising the online safety of children, a vulnerable demographic to cyber risks in Telenor’s Asian footprint. An estimated 500 million children live in Telenor’s Asian markets, many of whom will be first accessing the Internet in the subsequent several years.

“Telenor came to Asia two decades ago with a fundamental belief that mobile communications is for everyone. Now, the mass market is moving towards mobile Internet and we are determined to bring Internet for All.

Mobile and data connectivity brings tremendous opportunities to people, business and societies, especially for youth who can connect, learn and avail services unimaginable only a few years back,” said Sigve Brekke, executive vice-president and Head of Telenor’s Asian operations, and chairman of DiGi.

Brekke notes that the opportunities of the Internet do not come without risks. Current data from the Boston Consulting Group on Internet use among children shows that 8% may have unknowingly subscribed to commercial services, one in 10 have potentially been subject to personal data misuse, one in five potentially exposed to harmful content, and half of underage users may have been exposed to cyberbullying.

The largest survey in Malaysia polling views of almost 10,000 school children from 460 schools nationwide on internet safety as part of the DiGi CyberSAFE in Schools workshops last year revealed that about 68% of school children have access to the internet at home. Of this, a significant number of them spend an average of eight hours a week on the internet and 68% used it primarily for social networking.

More than half claimed that they were first introduced to the Internet by their family members. Statistics also revealed that 27% of students have been bullied online while 13% of students said they are still being bullied online today. The survey also recorded 49% of students saying they know of someone who has been bullied online.

Said Ola Jo Tandre, Telenor’s director of corporate responsibility, “As we connect Asia, it’s important that we do so safely and responsibly. Particularly for first-time users and children.”

Already, the group has long experience in educating children about the Internet from successful outreach programmes in Norway, Malaysia, Serbia, Sweden and Montenegro. The group aims to take advantage of the knowledge it has developed with other players in these markets to launch similar initiatives in more Telenor markets — particularly in Asia — going forward.

Telenor Group was the first mobile provider in the world to collaborate with Interpol to create a mobile Internet filter for child sexual abuse content. The group has filters in place in all but one of its European business units, and in Bangladesh and Pakistan. The rest of the business units in Asia are currently developing programmes to follow through in the coming months.

“We’ve committed to bringing Internet for All to Asia, and the positive trends in data demand and consumer access show that the ICT industry and the corresponding regulatory agencies are working together well with consumers and constituents. Every additional user with affordable, reliable mobile Internet access means we are one step closer to bringing Internet for All,” said Brekke.

DiGi’s CyberSAFE in Schools — a public-private partnership launched three years ago in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission — has reached out to 22,000 students, teachers and parents from over 700 schools and 14 rural Internet centres nationwide through interactive workshops to step up education on cyber safety.

These workshops combined with booklets created continue to help empower Malaysian students to keep themselves safe online and nurture a family-friendly internet experience that allows them to enjoy the convenience and far-reaching benefits of the Internet.

The Telenor Group and its global business operations’ have a long history of developing safety programmes and technology.

“A pillar of our Internet of All movement is that every one of our new users be equipped not just with the access to the Internet, but with the right support system to be able to navigate this new world safely,” Tandre said.


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