M'sia claims new laws won't lead to Net censorship

The Malaysian Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Multimedia gave its assurance, yet again, that new legislations to govern cyberspace will not allow censorship of the Internet.

PETALING JAYA--The Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Multimedia gave its assurance, yet again, that new legislations to govern cyberspace will not allow censorship of the Internet.

Its deputy minister Tan Chai Ho said that the new laws being studied is meant to find ways to penalize malicious hacking activities.

"There is a new legislation that we are studying, but it will not touch on Internet content. I would like to emphasize that the government will not censor Internet content in any way," he told a press conference after launching the Kolej Damansara Utama eCommunity Network here.

Earlier this month, minister in the prime minister's department Rais Yatim announced at the launch of the 2nd MSC Cyberlaw Conference that the government is taking measures to control Internet publications in particular, politically-inclined Web sites.

He had strongly hinted that the government would not sit idly by the sidelines and allow political content on Web sites which attacks the government, to have a free reign on the Internet.

A host of anti-government Web sites have sprung up locally especially after the sacking and jailing of deposed deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.

Rais was reported to have said the government may enact laws to curb such Web sites despite Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) guarantees that the Internet will not be censored.

This is not the first time the country has flip-flopped on the issue of Web censorship. Just a few days ago, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed had raised the spectre of Net censorship during his opening address at an Asean-level telecommunications ministers meeting.

Dr Mahathir had pointed out to the variety of "hate information" and pornography freely available on the Internet as cause for concern and urged Asean member countries to cooperate to stem such Web content.

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