Thursday, April 05, 2007

Registering Bloggers

A report in this morning's Star that Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said in parliament yesterday that bloggers using locally hosted websites may be required to register with the authorities.

But we have a couple of champions: opposition MP Lim Kit Siang, pointed out the vast benefits of blogging and Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad (the only UMNO MP to have a presence in the blogosphere, as far as I know) said bloggers were very aware of their own ethics and responsibility for content on their sites.

Which I believe too. And I think I've hung around online a lot more than most politicians. The internet polices itself. You say something fallacious, daft or defamatory and you get descended on faster than a mouse click by the other fellas wanting to put you right. I'm not even able to get away with a misspelling!

I'm not a political animal and generally can't even be bothered to read parts of the newspaper which aren't book pages or the funnies, but I am concerned about freedom of speech which is a basic human right whether the words are printed on pages in a book, or on our computer screens.

The authorities clearly need to decide whether Malaysia is in the Information Age or not. So far they've done very well. But forcing bloggers register is a retrogressive, knee-jerk reaction ... and to what, exactly? (I really would like to know and at the moment I'm afraid I don't. Not from the newspapers anyway.)

And as for the technicalities of registering bloggers here - how many bloggers have .my at the end of their addresses? And I reckon most bloggers host their words overseas anyway! (And more will probably join them now.)

Before I lose my rag entirely, it's timely to point you in the direction of this essay by Hari Kunzru about why dissidents must be protected from internet censorship. It's mostly about China, but many of the points made are relevant universally.

Meanwhile Tunku Halim is proposing a different form of protest: a collection of blog articles called Bloggers are Liars! He wants YOUR entries!

Update:

Readers' reactions to this report, from the Star. The people have spoken!

Rocky reports on the setting up of the National Alliance of Bloggers.

The Visitor sent me a very interesting article which addressed the question "Can bloggers be considered journalists?"

5 comments:

Chewxy said...

Great writeup sharon. I wrote an article a few months back, asking what will the govt do next, register all bloggers?

Seems to me that it turned out to be true :(

Here's my article

Brother Wai said...

then what will happen next is that all local registered bloggers will migrate using foreign host.

Then all local host all bang balls lah... Stupe!!

Kamigoroshi said...

There is a solution to this.

Don't host locally. I already host on foreign servers anyway. It's cheapers and you'd get into a whole lot less technical trouble. Now, you're going to get into a whole lot less legal problems.

What's Malaysia going to do next? Put up a huge firewall around the country?

midnite lily said...

thanks for the heads up re: Tunku Halim's "protest" ^_^ sent him two of my blog entries.

Anonymous said...

I can send Tunku Halim a whole stack of posts that will prove conclusively that some bloggers ARE habitual liars :) even so I wouldn't welcome any sort of censorship, because some of these are quite entertaining actually. So far I've learnt that governments read minds and Malaysians can't afford cars. That WAS a silly thing to say, wasn't it :P still it's hard to say anything because he just might have been misquoted, or quoted out of context.