‘Don’t charge WhatsApp admins, give guidelines first’

Source: FMT News

MCMC statement on WhatsApp group administrators being responsible for everything sent to group causes shockwave, resulting in disclaimer going viral. Pic from FMT News.

MCMC statement on WhatsApp group administrators being responsible for everything sent to group causes shockwave, resulting in disclaimer going viral. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Two groups representing workers and employers say proper rules and regulations are needed to manage social media and public communication platforms like WhatsApp.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said this following a statement from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) that group administrators could be prosecuted if their WhatsApp groups were caught spreading fake news.

“It is too drastic. The government should provide proper guidelines first on how to manage WhatsApp rather than straight away implement laws to prosecute people,” MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor told FMT today.

Having the proper rules and regulations in place is better than prosecution, he added. Read more

Cops nab man for insulting national leader on Facebook

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 ― A 48-year-old man suspected of insulting a national leader on social site was picked up in Klang, Selangor yesterday.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Mohd Sukri Kaman said police apprehended the man at about 3.15pm and seized his mobile phone and sim card.

“The man admitted to using the mobile phone and insulting the government in his Facebook account,” he said in a statement here today.  Read more

‘Superman’ Hew released on police bail

Source: FMT News

Pic from FMT News.

Pic from FMT News.

GEORGE TOWN: Former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau has been released on police bail after the three-day remand order expired today. He had been detained at the district police lock-up in Kulai, Johor.

Hew’s wife, Shannon Lew told FMT he was released from police custody at 12.55pm.

Lew also said Hew had finally broken his fast by having a bowl of curry mee, upon her insistence.

Hew, who goes by the nickname “Superman”, had earlier vowed to go on a hunger strike following his arrest.

Yesterday, police sent Hew to the hospital for a check-up following his hunger strike. He was given a clean bill of health and sent back to the police lock-up. Read more

Doing it the Malaysian way — Kris Ruijgrok

Source: Open Democracy

Johor police chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd said the suspect was arrested yesterday following a police report that he used WhatsApp to make an offensive remark. — AFP pic

AFP pic

Is internet a democratizing technology? Or is it first and foremost a tool for dictators to further control their populations? In a recently published article I used extensive quantitative research to demonstrate that increasing internet use has led to more protests in authoritarian regimes. However, although increasing use of the internet has facilitated mobilization, other researchindicates that the existence of the internet has not contributed to thedemocratisation of authoritarian states. How to make sense of that? The authoritarian regime of Malaysia illustrates how the internet can enable collective action without truly threatening an authoritarian system.

Ever since independence in 1957 the same ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), has been in power in Malaysia. Strict control over the traditional media has always been an important pillar of its rule. However, when the internet became available to a wider public in the late 1990’s the Malaysian government promised not to censor the internet, in order to attract foreign investment. At the time, this was not seen as a huge political concession: there was no ‘dictators’ dilemma’. Internet was understood in purely economic and not political terms. Also very few Malaysians had access to the web: it was not perceived as a mass medium and hence not threatening.   Read more

ASEAN’s tangled web: Governments flex legal muscles to stifle online dissent

Source: Asian Correspondent

AS the 2016 calendar year draws to a close, analysts and experts are rolling out predictions and looking back at the past 12 months in review – What have we achieved so far? Where will we be at the dawning of 2017?

2016 has witnessed exponential advances in technology: From self-driving vehicles to virtual reality headsets, artificially intelligent voice-controlled butlers and an ambitious plan to colonise Mars, we have seen and heard it all.

The ASEAN economy is chugging along, albeit at a slower rate, but a Focus Economics forecast says dynamics in the region will likely improve next year, after an expected 4.6 percent expansion in 2016.

“They offer important markets with middle-class consumers,” an article in Business Mirror says of emerging economies like Indonesia and Vietnam.

Hand-in-hand with growth is, of course, the demand and need for free flow of information, and the ease at which such information is accessed. As Computer Weekly suggests, the Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly gaining momentum in Southeast Asia. Citing a forecast by Frost and Sullivan, it says IoT spending in the region is expected to grow in value by 35 percent from an estimated US$1.68 billion last year to US$7.53 billion in 2020.

In fact, the region’s Internet economy on the whole is expected to be worth a staggering US$200 billion annually within just 10 years, according to a report released by Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Google.

The region of 600 million is also home to highest number of social media users in the world, signalling a marked increase in access to broadband networks and with it, the inevitable shift in news appetites from traditional to new media.

But as evidenced over the year, the proliferation of new media content has stoked government fears of dissent and uprisings by media-savvy youths, and led to the implementation of tougher Internet controls, often on the pretext of maintaining peace and public order.

In fact, despite the region’s high Internet penetration and increased accessibility to web-based resources, almost all of the 10 ASEAN-member countries, with the exception of Burma, have shown either no improvement or a decline in Internet freedom rankings this year. Read more

In Malaysia, wholesale decline in Net freedom

Source: The Malay Mail Online

reedom House singled out the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) as the main culprit for the regression. — AFP pic

Freedom House singled out the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) as the main culprit for the regression. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Online freedom in Malaysia worsened in nearly all categories measured in a global report on Internet censorship, putting the country among those with the most marked increases of government restrictions.

According to Freedom House’s “Freedom on the Net 2016” report, Malaysia rose two points on its Internet Freedom Index since 2015, with the current score of 45 indicating a “Partly Free” environment with continued and growing restrictions on local users.

The index rates a country’s overall freedom from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning no restrictions whatsoever and 100, the complete opposite.

The watchdog group that advocates freedom and democracy credited this to Malaysia’s first overt violations of its previous guarantee not to filter content online, which the country made when it began its embrace of the Internet. Read more

Stories Learnt on the Struggle for Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia


#NetMerdeka is a campaign by NGOs and activists in Malaysia to advocate freedom of internet and freedom of expression, and rights of the netizens in Malaysia. It is formed in February 2016, in response to increasing proposals to regulate the internet, in particular proposals to amend the already broad and vague Communications and Multimedia Act.  HAKAM is part of this coalition alongside CIJ, SUARAM, Amnsety International Malaysia, and Lawyers for Liberty, just to name a few.

The coalition is moving towards drafting the People’s Charter of the Internet.internet-censorship-1-728

Follow #NetMerdeka at this link.

Read the full findings at the ASEAN People’s Forum 2016 in Dili, Timor Leste, on the struggles of Southeast Asian countries with internet freedom below or download the report “[download-attachment id=”10154″ title=”Stories on Struggles for Internet Freedom”]”: Read more

UPDATE 1-Malaysia “trying to put internet genie back in bottle” with planned curbs

Source: Reuters 

Oct 13 Human Rights Watch on Thursday expressed concern over planned amendments to Malaysian media law that would give broader powers to the authorities to stifle online dissent amid a wider crackdown on free speech and assembly.

The U.S.-based rights group’s report comes as Prime Minister Najib Razak battles criticism over his handling of a multi-billion dollar financial scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“What Malaysia is trying to do is put the internet genie back in the bottle, back to a time when the government had greater control over information received by its citizens,” HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson told reporters. Read more

Workshop on Rights and Freedom of Internet

Source: Daily Express

internet-censorship-1-728Penampang: Thirty seven youths from all over Sabah participated in a two-day workshop at a private venue here in the weekend on the subject of Rights and Freedom of the Internet.

The facilitators are under an umbrella organisation “Net Merdeka” which is a coalition of nine NGOs, the prominent ones being Centre for Independent Journalism, National Human Rights Society, Amnesty International Malaysia and Lawyers for Liberty.

When asked about the main concerns, the facilitators said it is the violation of human rights against internet users over what they upload or write in the web. There are threats, harassments or arrest over small matters that a selected few deemed as sensitive or punishment that does not commensurate with the content that was allegedly offensive or illegal. Read more

Freedom of speech: Responsibility and accountability

Source: Business Mirror

THE Internet has changed not only the way we obtain our news, but also how people react to that information. Those who obtain their daily news from online newspapers and from social media know that a person can make comments on the news articles.

Online readers both read the news and the comments to see the reactions. Netizens have at least once made a comment on these articles and it has definitely made it easier to exchange views or see the general sentiment as we read along.

Those who read their articles have also encountered comments from users that are offensive, rude, degrading and humiliating. Largely anonymous, these users often post derogatory and deplorable comments on articles as a response either to the article or to other users. Since comment sections are largely uncensored, individual comments can contain expletives, below-the-belt insults and, at worst, threats.

As a response to this, one prominent local online news outfit has changed its policy on commenting. In an effort to make the news web site a “safe place” for users, the comment sections will be heavily moderated, and crude and disrespectful comments will be deleted.

This move has been largely criticized by online users. Invoking the concept of freedom of speech, they argue that such move is tantamount to censorship and suppresses the right of users to express their opinions freely. Users also fear that such heavy-handed measure allows news sites to censor dissenting opinion and label them as “offensive”.

Read more