Evidence Act: Aug 14 declared ‘Internet Blackout Day’

  • Section 114A wrongfully presumes the guilt rather than innocence of individuals: CIJ
  • Businesses and individuals now need to take more responsibility by protecting their online presence: MDeC

THE Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), which is spearheading efforts to get an amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 withdrawn, has declared Aug 14 as “Internet Blackout Day.”
The latest phase of its “Stop 114A” campaign will simply consist of a grey screen that pops up before entering participating websites, which the CIJ hopes would encourage people to learn more and take action against the amendment, it said in a statement.
Evidence Act: Aug 14 declared ‘Internet Blackout Day’
“Section 114A wrongfully presumes the guilt rather than innocence of individuals possessing a webpage or device on which seditious, defamatory, or libelous content is published. Individuals and organizations administering, operating, or providing spaces for online community forums, blogs, or webhosting services are automatically liable for content published through their services, on their devices, or in their name,” the CIJ said.
“Users are, in other words, liable for content they DID NOT publish if someone else assumes their identity online. Since this covers any Internet platform – from e-mail to social media – that means this affects everyone.
“Section 114A deters free expression on the Internet, threatening core principles of justice, democracy, and fundamental human rights,” it added.
For more details, visit http://cijmalaysia.org/2012/06/13/evidence-act-section114a-frequently-asked-questions/ and the official blog of the campaign http://stop114a.wordpress.com/, or email [email protected].
The CIJ has also set up an FB page and initiated an online petition against the amendment. The petition was handed over to de facto Deputy Law Minister Datuk V.K. Liew in Parliament in June.
Liew said many fears over the amendment were misplaced, but conceded that more discussions were needed before the proposed legislation is gazetted.
The amendment was passed in Parliament in April without debate, but has yet to come into force.
Evidence Act: Aug 14 declared ‘Internet Blackout Day’Need for more responsibility
Meanwhile, the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), custodian for the MSC Malaysia project and lead agency for the Digital Malaysia transformation program, refused to be drawn into the controversy.
“I don’t think I would be in a position to comment on this as it is best left to the legislators and lawmakers,” its chief executive officer Datuk Badlisham Ghazali (pic) told Digital News Asia (DNA).
On whether the proposed legislation would cause a dampening effect on the rollout of Wi-Fi networks in the country, he said, “This question could perhaps be addressed by the service providers themselves.”
Earlier, Ganesh Bangah, group CEO of MOL Global -- owner and operator of one of the largest Wi-Fi networks in Malaysia – said such issues should be handled via technology, rather than legislation.
He said he was against the burden of responsibility put by Internet users on service providers and mobile operators, but added that MOL Friendster Hotspots would comply with the law.
However, Telekom Malaysia and another telecommunications company that declined to be named believe that the amendment would not impact them as they are not considered to be publishers or re-publishers of content.
Despite the fears of the online community and many web-based businesses, MDeC believes that plenty of businesses and individuals will continue to actively participate in the digital economy, noting that:

  • In 2009, the global Digital Economy was bigger than Canada’s entire GDP (Gross Domestic Product);
  • It contributed 35% to global trade (US$17 trillion) in the same year; and
  • By 2013, it will grow to US$20.4 trillion, or 13.8% of global trade (PWC figures)

“This will only ramp up as we go along,” said Badlisham. “The question that everyone is grappling is, can we afford to place restraints and hold back this groundswell, as analyst firm Forrester Research has described it?
“Based on the experience we’ve all had in the past decade or so, [I do not expect the proposed legislation] to have a dampening effect of any sort.
“However, businesses and individuals will now need to take more responsibility by protecting their online presence,” he added.
Related Stories:
Evidence Act: An issue to be solved technically, not legally: MOL
Petition to stop controversial amendment handed to Govt (includes videos)
FB page, online petition begun against Evidence Act amendment
Evidence Act: We are all sitting ducks!
Evidence Act, censorship, control issues and other #facepalms
Evidence Act amendments, a slippery slope 

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