The Fourth Meeting of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information agreed that ASEAN should face the challenges and seize the opportunities brought about by new media, in particular the Internet. An ASEAN Forum on Internet (AFI) was organised in Singapore for ASEAN members to share experiences and exchange views on appropriate responses to the Internet. The seven ASEAN member countries participated in the three-day Forum.
2. At the end of the Forum, the Meeting:
- a acknowledged the value of Internet as a communications and information resource and agreed that ASEAN should harness the potential of Internet to project its rich heritage and identity to the region and the rest of the world;
b agreed that regulations and laws were necessary to set up a framework for Internet to develop and flourish, given the great potential for business, information and cultural exchange. The Forum agreed that the appropriate regulatory framework would depend on the culture and legal system of each particular country; and
c observed that the trans-border nature of the Internet would open individual countries to external influences and affirmed the importance of having safeguards against easy access to sites which ran counter to our cherished values, traditions and culture. ASEAN would encourage other nations, especially the West, to understand its concerns.
3. The Meeting affirmed that:
- a. government regulations played an important role in safeguarding national values;
b. industry self-regulation was equally important;
c. parents played a crucial role in educating and safeguarding children from harmful material. In this respect, members observed that it would be useful to educate parents about this new medium and the tools available for parental supervision.
4. The participants noted the value of the Forum in helping each country address the concerns and opportunities brought about by Internet. Given the rapidly evolving nature of Internet, there should be continued regional cooperation and sharing of information to help each country formulate and fine-tune its regulatory approaches. As such, the ASEAN Forum on Internet should be continued by rotation among the ASEAN countries.