The responsible and ethical use of digital technologies is referred to as “digital citizenship.” It involves understanding the rights and responsibilities of individuals and communities in the digital world, as well as the impact that technology can have on society. Digital citizenship enables us to have a range of skills and behaviors that relates to digital capabilities, such as digital literacy, online safety and security, digital ethics, and responsible social media use. It also involves being aware of issues like cyberbullying, digital identity, and online privacy. Currently, technology plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of our lives. Therefore, being a responsible and ethical digital citizen helps to ensure that technology is used in a way that maximizes its benefits while minimizing its risks and negative impact on society.
In Malaysia, digital citizenship is an evolving concept that reflects Malaysians progress in embracing technology and the digital economy. We recognized the importance of digital citizenship and has taken several steps to promote it among Malaysia. One of the key initiatives the MyDigital program, which aims to transform Malaysia into a digitally driven economy by the year 2025. This initiative focuses on several areas, including improving digital infrastructure, building digital skills, digital entrepreneurship, and digital governance. There are also various activities launched to promote responsible online behavior and cybersecurity awareness among Malaysians, such as Digital Lifestyle Malaysia campaign, by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
Building digital citizenship is a difficult task. It advocates for a holistic understanding of digital literacy and ethics that integrates knowledge, experience, and awareness. The Malaysian government has launched a number of projects to address local ethical and digital literacy issues, such as
- Digital Citizenship Education Program: where, the Malaysian Ministry of Education has integrated digital citizenship education into the school curriculum, aimed at instilling digital literacy, digital ethics, and online safety among students. The program aims to promote responsible digital behavior among students, encourage positive online interactions, and develop critical thinking skills in using digital technologies.
- Digital Civility Campaign: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has launched the Digital Civility Campaign, which aims to promote responsible online behavior and encourage positive online interactions among Malaysians. The campaign emphasizes the importance of respect, empathy, and compassion in online interactions and encourages individuals to report cyberbullying, hate speech, and other online abuses.
- Safer Internet Day: February 7th every year is an international education and awareness-raising effort, which is celebrated in over 100 countries. The Malaysian government supports Safer Internet Day. This is an international event that promotes online safety and cybersecurity awareness among children and young people. Various activities and events organized in schools and communities to raise awareness of the risks and challenges of online use and provide guidance on how to stay safe online.
- Digital Security and Privacy: The Malaysian government’s most significant step was the implementation of different rules and policies to improve the country’s digital security and privacy. The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 is one such law that governs how organizations in Malaysia collect, use, and disclose personal data.
These projects seek to increase Malaysians’ digital literacy, digital ethics, and online safety. It demonstrates our commitment to fostering a digitally responsible and safe environment in the country and ensuring that digital technologies are leveraged to improve local digital citizenship. But the issue remains: are Malaysians truly prepared to be termed digital citizens?
Roziya Abu is Associate Professor from School of Information Science, Universiti Teknologi Mara