Global non-profit group The Internet Society, which recently launched a digital footprint toolkit in Bahasa Indonesia for Internet users in Indonesia, is now planning to release a Bahasa Malaysia edition soon.
The Internet Society's regional bureau director for Asia Pacific, Rajnesh Singh, who is in Kuala Lumpur this week to work with policy leaders as well as the local KL chapter, tells Computerworld Malaysia why the rollout of the toolkit in different languages is important to the online community.
Photo - Rajnesh Singh, Regional Bureau Director for Asia Pacific, The Internet Society
Could you give the story behind the launch of the new toolkit in Bahasa Indonesia, and what are your plans for Bahasa Malaysia?
At the Internet Society, one of our core beliefs is that the Internet is for everyone. By that we mean everyone should have the ability to access, use and even help develop and grow the Internet, from wherever they are, and in whatever way they prefer. And today, that increasingly means users and sites and resources that are not in English, especially in a region as diverse as Asia. So we wanted to be as inclusive as possible and also recognise the burgeoning numbers of new users in Asia - in fact, 45 percent of all new users already come from Asia, and that number is expected to continue to rise in the coming years.
We chose Bahasa Indonesia first based on our resources and the country's population size, but of course we are keen to expand the toolkit offering to other parts of Asia, and Malaysia in particular. We're hoping to tackle Bahasa Malaysia by the end of this year.
How effective are such toolkits in helping new users navigate the increasingly risky Internet environment?
Internet users today - even experienced ones - can easily be overwhelmed by the confusing number of privacy options, settings, sites, and players online. For new users, it's an even more difficult landscape to navigate. We focus on helping Internet users understand the basics of managing their online identity, including understanding personal data collection, voluntary and involuntary sharing, rights and permissions, and recognizing threats. If someone who had just logged on for the very first time followed the guidance given in the toolkits, they'd be able to know how they'd be seen online, what type of sharing they were doing when joining social media sites and what to look out for online.
The toolkits are pretty straightforward and only take about 5 minutes each to go through. So it's our hope that as many new Internet users as possible - and even some experienced ones - take a few minutes to go through them and just get familiar with the language and environment of digital identity and what it means when you are online.
Are there any age groups of users you are particularly aiming at with such aids?
The toolkits were developed for users of all ages. The new-to-online population comes from all walks of life, though in general we are seeing two groups in particular joining in large numbers. The first is the youth, of course, and the second is the over-40 crowd. Both bring their own challenges. The youth of course are very used to technology; however, they are also very used to sharing and are more likely to ignore thinking about privacy aspects for the sake of joining in whatever's interesting to them online. The more mature new users are often getting online for a specific purpose - say social sharing with friends and family or online learning and information - and they may not know all the ins and outs of how sites share information, and may find the many disclaimers and rules confusing and tiring. But overall, we're looking to support basically any new Internet user.
What are your future plans to support new users?
The Asia-Pacific region has more than half the world's languages, and we are keen to have this toolkit available in as many languages as possible. To that end, we are looking for partnerships and resources to help us in translating the toolkit into other languages. We'll also look for more ways to directly engage new users through the work of our chapters, seminars and other events and activities. Currently we have 17 chapters in the Asia-Pacific region, and around 20,000 individual members, so we not only expect they will help us in this cause, but we also hope that some of the new users will get involved with our chapters.
What is The Internet Society's level of commitment to the online users in Malaysia and indeed the rest of the region?
Well, we are very committed to the region and Malaysia in particular. We were recently in Malaysia as part of the APRICOT conference on Internet technology, and in fact this coming week we'll be in Kuala Lumpur again participating in a regional policy-related meeting.
We are also hosting a workshop for our chapters from the Asia-Pacific region in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the week. The Internet Society's vision is to have an open, innovative and trusted Internet worldwide - which means we want everyone to have equal opportunity for access, we want to continue to see the Internet foster development and growth, and we want the Internet to be stable and safe.
And we can only do that with everyone's participation. So for Malaysia and the region, we're really trying to work with as many stakeholders as we can in order to maintain and grow an Internet that works for everyone. We've been doing that for the past 20+ years, and we look forward to continuing to do it for many more.
For the Bahasa Indonesia edition of The Internet Society toolkit, please visit - www.internetsociety.org/mengelola-identitas-anda