On November 14, 1995, I appeared on a live one hour broadcast on WorldNet TV, a part of the United States Information Agency. It was beamed to US embassies, including Singapore. The issue of the Internet's influnce on Singapore is a heated question. Below is a transcript of how Singapore's leading English-daily, the Straits-Times covered the event.

The Straits Times (Singapore), November 16, 1995.

Shape Internet to reduce US cultural bias, says expert

BYLINE: Hau Boon Lai

Countries can minimise the influence of American culture on the Internet if they "adapt and mould" it according to their own needs, an American cyberspace expert has said. "The Internet is a product of American culture with a preference for the lack of authority," said Mr David Bennahum. He pointed out that countries with views dissimilar from the Americans might find it unsettling when assimilating the Internet into their own culture.

Mr Bennahum, who is currently writing a book on the history of cyberspace, stressed that governments had a responsibility to ensure that curbs were maintained in the Internet against "such elements as crime and child exploitation".

"We can have many Internets, each serving its own requirements," he said. He was speaking at the Worldnet Dialogue on Techno Culture, a US live satellite teleconference organised by the United States Information Service. On the influence of the Internet, he observed that a person could now reach millions of others easily. "Traditionally, only people in power could do it," he said. "This raises the question of trust among the users about the information provided by individuals over the Internet," he said. Traditional media such as CNN had an established level of trust among the people about the information they provide, he said. Individuals were now in a position to "create the same level of trust" as the traditional media. "Social groups" also played an important role in reviewing the reliability of the information transmitted over the Internet.

Once governments had the curbs against crime in place, he advised those who were hesitant about using the Internet to just "plug in ... and get ready for a big adventure!"

Copyright 1995, The Straits Times Press Limited.

© 1995 by David S. Bennahum. Direct comments, bugs and so on to me at davidsol@panix.com.