Monday, January 16, 2006

In Bangladesh - Free evenings and weekends encourage 'corruption'

Interesting article out of Bangladesh on parents lobbying the local phone companies to stop providing free evenings for mobile phone usage, claiming they encouraged the youth to engage in corrupt activities like speaking vulgarly between boyfriends and girlfriends.

See the story here.

It seems the youth have been using this technology service to circumvent the rather conservative protocols of their parents who tend to discourage dating. This type of emancipatory new media usage can be found in similar capacities in places all over the world (Malaysia, Japan, my own research in Korea...etc), where privacy for youth is at a premium and the generation gap is wider.

Another nuance, I liked one particular quote from the story to do with telecommunications, because it gets at the issues surrounding regulatory issues to do with all types of media, including what I've been looking at in online games:

"Such an order is shocking and surprising," said university student Kaushik Ahmed, in Dhaka. "Parents should be able to build up their children properly and inject values in them before turning to telecom regulators to shape their lives."

While it is subject to debate as to whether or not these parents' injected values would hold in their children, there is an inconsistency. When regulators are able to shape people's lives, it can be a move towards looking after the welfare of users, but also regarded as 'interference' in one's civil liberties. Where do you draw the line between paternalistic policies, censorship, and user incentives?


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