Is Malaysia becoming “Internet Enemy”?

“No Censorship of the Internet” is stated in the MSC Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees. Since its inception in 1999, The Bill of Guarantees serves as the foundation to the development of the national ICT initiative, MSC Malaysia.

End of last month, industry regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has requested Malaysian ISPs to block ten file-sharing websites (see Letter below). The Letter first appeared on Facebook last night before it became widely circulated on the Web today.

MCMC enforced its directive under Section 268 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which states that ISPs (licensees) must “use his best endeavour” to prevent its network from being used for activities that contravenes with Malaysian law. And the ISPs must assist MCMC “in preventing the commission or attempted commission of an offence under any written law of Malaysia.” As of now, not all ISPs have complied to the MCMC’s request.

I heard from a source that this is not the first time MCMC is making such a censorship request. But this is “probably the most comprehensive” directive yet, according to the source. This is a rather disturbing trend.

Cyber-censorship is like an opium of the Government. Censorship is used to solve a set of problems by the Government; in this case, Internet piracy. Once the ball starts rolling, the inertia is going to be hard to contain. Eventually, cyber-censoring will become a norm, employ without much deliberations on long-term impact.

But systemic thinking tells us that solving a set of problems will give rise to a different set of problems, over time. Blockage can only spur the emergence of an even harder to block mechanism. The ecosystem will react to imposed constraints, and like living organisms, will adapt and evolve.

But no, not yet. I don’t see Malaysia becoming an “Internet Enemy” in Reporters Without Border report anytime soon. The Government is still going to adopt a rather light-touch approach when it comes to governing Malaysian online activities in the foreseeable future. Draconian action can only harm our nascent ICT industry, which is one of the key industries that will catapult Malaysia into a developed, high-income economy by year 2020.

A reminder to us all: Technology will move faster than governments, so don’t legislate before you understand the consequences. ~ said Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman.

Credit Wirawan Web

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