Malaysia observes 24-hr Internet blackout to protest law
| by Anuradha Shetty |
Latest reports confirm that Malaysia saw a day-long "Internet blackout" in protest against a legal amendment to the nation's Evidence Act. The act reportedly came into effect in April amidst a lot of opposition and has been viewed as a threat to free expression on the web. The protest saw the participation of Malaysian NGOs, popular bloggers and opposition politicians in the country, Reports suggest that during the protest, those participating had their existing homepages replaced with black screens with messages against the new section in the aforementioned act.
24-hour Internet blackout in Malaysia to protest law (Image credit: Getty Images)
As per the reports, the amendment means that "any web host, provider of a wi-fi network, or ordinary user of a computer or mobile device can be found liable for any defamatory or harmful Web content sent via its systems." The protest also saw its support in Malaysia's Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), which called the amendment a "bad law" that was "passed in haste and does not take into account public interest and participation." They, along with some other critics are now pushing for either scraping the amendment or revising it.
Reports further add that, "Users attempting to access Paultan.org, a highly popular automotive-themed blog, were greeted with with a black pop-up screen that said 'This is what the web could look like' under the legal change."
Earlier in July this year, there were reports about the Russian government proposing amendments to the "Law On Information" and that a discussion was in place in the State Duma of the Russian Federation on the topic. At that time it was reported that if accepted, these amendments would put into effect 'a real censorship on the Internet' in the country, leading to the closure of services like Wikipedia in Russian.
Even Wikipedia had observed a site blackout earlier this year to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). CEO Jimmy Wales had begun tweeting that he'd started to do press interviews on the Wikipedia blackout and has even started a hashtag for the topic, called simply #WikipediaBlackout. He also tweeted that he hopes Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday and in another tweet, called out to students to do their homework early, because "Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday."
Internet censorship has been a raging topic back home, too. Even as you're reading this, popular social networking site, Facebook, among others is fighting a legal battle, over allegedly hosting objectionable content on their sites, thereby being potent of harming the nation's peace and harmony. The year, so far, also saw protests throughout the nation by hacking group Anonymous against Internet censorship in the country.
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