(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQatar) is planning to issue a digital privacy law by the beginning of next year. The law will contain general rules regarding the protection of personal information of Internet users.
Speaking at the green tent of the Friends of the Environment Center, H E Dr Hessa Al Jaber, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said that it was now difficult to block social networking sites because the Internet and social media had become an integral part of our lives. It was the collective responsibility of parents, users and regulators to spread awareness about the constructive use of social networking sites, she added.
The popularity of the Internet can be gauged from the fact that about 70 percent of the youth in the world aged below 26 years get news from social media networks, while over 75 percent of the Arab youth below 24 rely on them completely. About 50 percent of the Qatari youth between eight and 15 years have smartphones while 27 percent of the youth between nine and 16 years have an account on a social networking site.
The minister said users of social networking sites, especially the youth, should verify information given on these sites. One should analyse the information on these sites properly before spreading it further as many people and groups use these sites to spread their propaganda, she said.
The minister said social networking sites had positive and negative aspects. They could be utilised to spread growth opportunities, solve problems and make life simpler. About 8,000 companies in Qatar sell their products on social networking site Instagram.
Khalid Al Hashmi, CEO, Cyber Security System at ictQatar, said the ministry was working on details of the digital privacy law. He said users usually save their personal information on their computers assuming it to be safe. Users should remember that computers are mostly connected to the Internet, which makes personal information vulnerable to privacy breaches.
He said that ictQatar, in cooperation with the Supreme Education Council, had recently launched a new educational programme to improve cyber safety and security awareness among students. Called "Haseen", the Internet safety and security awareness programme for students tackles up to 13 cyber-safety topics and aims to empower students in education stages from grade 1 to grade 12 to stay safe online.
In the first phase this year, Haseen will be applied in 25 percent of Independent, international and private schools.
Based on feedback, more schools will be covered in the years ahead.
The programme teaches schoolchildren how to think critically and behave online by raising their awareness and developing an informed and healthy cyber safety culture across the Qatari society.