Mixed reaction to Malaysia's Internet Blackout Day

Mixed reaction to Malaysia's Internet Blackout Day

Summary: Protest against amendment to Evidence Act sees mixed responses from country's online community, with some calling campaign a success while others note little impact.

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TOPICS: Government Asia
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Malaysia's Internet Blackout Day on Tuesday has received mix reactions from the country's online population, where some describe the initiative a success while others say it lacked bite.

The Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia had rallied several Web sites and bloggers in Malaysia to shut down their sites or display a pop-up to promote the "Stop 114a" campaign for 24 hours. Participants included the Malaysian Bar Council, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Malaysiakini. 

They were protesting an amendment to Section 114a in the country's Evidence Act which puts the burden of proof on Internet account holders in disputes involving defamation. 

The campaign garnered varying reactions from online users. Twitter user "RM0_10" told ZDNet Asia the blackout did not affect his Web experience as only some blogs and sites went offline.

Asked if he deemed the blackout campaign successful, he said no. He added that while he was aware of the Twitter hashtag #Stop114a, he did not know there was a Internet Blackout Day until queried.

Twitter user "iAppleMustache" said the blackout did not "affect even a bit" and "life goes on".

However, another Twitter user "ShaneeKay" believes the campaign helped raise awareness of Stop 114a. In her tweet, she noted the Facebook page for Stop 114a had 1,600 Likes on Monday. This number grew to 32,000 the next day and had attracted international coverage. "I'd say it works," she said.

Using her twitter handle, @n_izzah, Malaysian politician Nurul Izzah Anwar told ZDNet Asia the blackout on her site gave her "a certain sense of serenity and reaffirmed [her] convictions to #stop114a". The next step is legislative reform, she added.

The organizer of Internet Blackout Day--Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia--did not respond to ZDNet's e-mail. 

What is Section 114a?
Malaysia's Internet Blackout Day is similar to the virtual strike in January when several U.S. sites protested the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

According to Malaysia's Centre for Independent Journalism, the Section 114a amendment presumes "any owner, admin, host, editor, subscriber of a network or Web site, or owner of computer or mobile device...have published or re-published its contents".

"If 114a is not stopped, you will be held responsible for the words of others. It can also result in the removal of comment functions, curtailing your space for posting legitimate comments and opinions.

"This impacts your democratic right to participate freely and openly in public debate and discussions. Indirectly, it will foster a climate of self-censorship, and will have a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media," it added.

Topic: Government Asia

Liau Yun Qing

About Liau Yun Qing

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate masquerading as a group-buying addict.

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5 comments
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  • Tidak-Apathy Rules OK

    n/t
    ldo17
  • So You Can Publish Anything...

    Without fear of the consequences.

    There is no journalism on the internet. No ethics, nothing. A person can accuse the President of the United States of not being born in the country based on rumors. 114a, it its basic form means you are responsible for whatever comes out as a result of your website, or your devices. Up to you to disprove it.

    Does that mean self-censorship? Hell Yes! Its call fact checking. You don't have evidence, don't publish it. Maybe then we will stop all the crap floating around in cyberspace.
    madfry
    • Re: So You Can Publish Anything...

      See, if everything had to be fact-checked before publication was allowed, your posting would would be rejected just based on that first sentence.
      ldo17
      • Missing The Point..

        There you go. What happens is now I am responsible for whatever I have posted, as above, per 114a. If I am sued, as per 114a the plaintiff does not need to prove that I am really the one that is responsible for posting such thing.

        It is up to the poster who becomes the defendant to do so.

        Does 114a impede free speech. No.

        Does free speech means you have the right to defame other people? Of course not also. But if you do, you are responsible for it.

        In Malay, there is a proverb, "Baling Batu, Sembunyi Tangan." Translated, throw stone, hide hands. Now you can't hide your hand, be responsible for throwing the stone.
        madfry
        • Re: What happens is now I am responsible for whatever I have poste...

          You already are. You don't need your Government to pass a special law just to tell you that.
          ldo17