Friday, 18 May 2018

Should New Laws Be Passed To Block Access To Named Websites In Ghana - And To Punish Those Who Unfairly Damage The Reputations Of Innocent People Online?

As in many parts of the world, social media has become very popular, in our homeland Ghana too. Alas, they are also platforms and channels for the spread of fake news. And, worst of all, they enable the hardwon reputations of innocent people in Ghanaian society to be damaged with impunity by cowards hiding behind sundry monikers.

In light of that phenomenon, a view held by many deeply religious Ghanaians, is that in order to protect the morality of our younger generations, it is crucial that as a people we have a national conversation about blocking access to unsuitable online content, which could erode the moral fabric of Ghanaian society.

As an old wag I know once said to me, when discussing the impact of social media and negative online content generally: "For example, what possible benefit to Ghanaian society can be derived from online pornographic websites, Kofi? Zilch. Full stop."

The question is: As a people, should we not be bold enough' to decide that in line with our traditional cultural values, we will not allow access to unsuitable online websites, and make it a crime to access such internet content in Ghana - with new laws passed to prescribe suitably stiff sentences for those who deliberately malign innocent people online and also defy laws banning access to named websites?

Within the context of  the preservation of the best aspects  of our cultural heritage, it will be difficult for anyone living in Ghana to claim that being denied access to pornographic websites (and other abhorent websites whose content is repugnant to our moral values), is an abuse of his or her fundamental human rights guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution underpinning our democracy.

As our contribution to kick-starting a national conversation about doing something concrete to eliminate the negative consequences  of allowing unfettered access to online content in Ghana, and punishing those who go online to malign the innocent with impunity, today, to serve as inspiration for our ruling elites, we have culled an interesting news story from Gulf Business entitled: "UAE blocks Roblox, Blue Whale, Mariam other online games". It was written by Robert Anderson.

Please read on:

"Gulf Business
UAE blocks Roblox, Blue Whale, Mariam other online games

The country’s attorney general said the games were damaging to children’s health
Robert Anderson
Thursday 17 May 2018
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The UAE’s attorney general has ordered several popular online gaming sites and smartphone apps to be blocked in the country due to concerns they are damaging children’s health.

The affected titles include massive multiplayer online game Roblox, doll app My Friend Cayla, Blue Whale (unspecified), messaging app Cloudpets and Saudi online horror game Mariam, according to state news agency WAM.

“The move follows reports received by the attorney general on the adverse impact of these games on youngsters’ behaviour and their infiltration into their personal and family lives, while pushing them into adopting forms of conduct that threaten the society,” WAM said.

Attorney general Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi has assigned the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to take necessary steps to restrict the sites and apps in collaboration with telecoms and internet providers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also been assigned to continue investiging the content of other sites and apps suspected of having a similar impact on young people and will report its findings to the Public Attorney.

Blue Whale controversy

The Blue Whale Game has become a social media phenomenon over the last two years in various countries.

The game is said to involve the assigning of a series of tasks by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge to commit suicide.

It was unclear if the attorney general was referring to a specific smartphone app or website or a blanket ban on any sites linked to the Blue Whale concept.

Gulf News reported last month that Dubai Police were investigating whether the suicides of two Filipino students aged 15 and 16 were linked to the game. Media reports across the world have also connected numerous other suicides with participation in the game.

Sharjah and Dubai Police issued warnings to parents last year urging them not to allow their children to play Mariam, which has been compared to the Blue Whale Game, according to the publication.

Of the games affected Roblox is the most popular in terms of raw downloads with a global user base claimed to exceed 56 million players.

The UAE restricts various other forms of online content related to pornography, gambling, certain political views and illegal downloads.

Voice over internet protocol services like Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime are blocked in the country.

Read: UAE’s telecoms regulator in talks to lift Skype, FaceTime ban
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End of culled content from Gulf Business.
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