Monday 13 August 2012

Malaysia’s Internet Blackout Day tomorrow gets wider support

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 ― The campaign against a law threatening to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet here has widened, with more organisations promising to take down their websites on the Internet Blackout Day tomorrow.

The Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia (CIJ) said the Bar Council has confirmed taking down their website to support this while the DAP is also shutting down all its websites on August 14.

Tech-savvy DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and human rights lawyer Edmund Bon have pledged to go offline for 24 hours while others will support a pop-up to promote the “Stop 114A” campaign. They include Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Hishamuddin Rais (Tukar Tiub), Uppercaise, Nat Tan, Niki Cheong, Anil Netto, Juana Jaafar, Sarawak Bloggers, Fahmi Fadzil and myasylum.

CIJ said the Internet Blackout Day pop-up is also supported by news sites Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini, Digital News Asia, The Nut Graph, bfm, Merdeka Review, and party organ news sites Harakah Daily and Keadilan Daily.

“The Blackout Day has also received international attention ― highlighted in tweets by popular whistle-blower WikiLeaks and global digital freedom NGO Access Now,” the organisation said in a statement today.

The Internet Blackout Day initiative is aimed at creating awareness among Internet users about the negative impact of an amendment to the Evidence Act regarding online expression, and takes its cue from similar efforts in the United States and New Zealand in support of internet.

CIJ said internet users who visit participating websites tomorrow will see a pop-up window that will contain the message of the campaign. In addition, users may also change their profile pictures/avatar on Twitter and Facebook to black or use downloadable images provided by CIJ.
Section 114A, otherwise known as Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012, was passed by Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in April this year and was gazetted on 31st July by de facto law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

The amendment has raised concerns from parties such as lawyers, activists and Internet-based businesses. Under Section 114A, an Internet user is deemed the publisher of any online content unless proven otherwise.

“It also makes individuals and those who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services, liable for content published through its services.

“This presumption of guilt goes against a fundamental principle of justice – innocent until proven guilty – and disproportionately burdens the average person who may not have the resources to defend himself in court,” CIJ said.

It added the amendment’s wide reach will affect all internet users, websites that provide space for online comments, and any business premises which give free Wi-Fi access to their customers.

CIJ said the new amendment was passed despite existing laws ― including the Computer Crimes Act 1997, Sedition Act 1948, Defamation Act 1957, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 ― already being used to arrest and charge in court those who commit defamation, criminal defamation, fraud and sedition online.

For more information about the Internet Blackout Day and to take part in the campaign please visit the official blog at and the Facebook page.

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