14 November 2018

Liberia: Pres. Weah Extols Internet Power, Bemoans Negative Use

Pres Weah in talks with Director of UNESCO.

President George Weah has underscored the progressive and positive impact the internet is having on the new world order, describing it as a platform that has propelled and accelerated innovation in all facets of life.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Weah made the statement in a speech he delivered on Monday, November 12, 2018, at the Internet Governance Forum organized by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France.

He said that the internet has bridged communication gaps and made the world a smaller and better place in many ways.

He said the World Wide Web is a fulcrum in the drive toward peace and security in the world. "It has enhanced development in the areas of technology, education, health and welfare," the President told the gathering.

President Weah, according to the release, told the forum how the internet has made it easier for farmers to get price updates and better earnings from their produce, while a nurse in a faraway community can get instructions and prescriptions from a doctor on the other side of the globe, and can then be enabled to give proper treatment to patients.

He added, "Teachers can use internet-based tools to improve learning outcomes. The valuable power of the internet cannot be over-emphasized."

However, President Weah has acknowledged that amid these positive developments, the world is witnessing in the advent of the internet a dark side -- the wrongful and malicious use made possible by the prevalence of various devices such as mobile phones.

"This provides great opportunities for exploitation by criminal elements. These elements are using the internet to carry out various cyber-crimes, including terrorism and financial crimes," President Weah observed.

"The internet is also now being used to stoke hatred among our people, and to spread dangerous false information which can lead to violence and the destruction of societal fabric," he said.

The President said it was therefore high time proper structures were put in place to ensure that the internet--an instrument for the advancement of human development--is not perverted into an instrument of terror, hate, crime and destruction.

He called for collaboration and networking between governments and civil society actors, international bodies, and technology companies to work toward developing a governance structure that ensures the use of the internet for the good of society, and not for its destruction.

He however emphasized that efforts toward eradicating criminal elements must not amount to inhibiting or stifling free speech and expression, not even innovation and development that are essential to global progress.

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