Today, numerous websites in Malaysia showed visitors and users a black pop-up window (pictured above) as a form of protest against the country’s amendment to the Evidence Act. The revised section 114A of that Act states that any internet user, including website owners, social media accounts, and all users of electronic devices are deemed responsible for any perceived defamation or slander that is posted on the respective site, even if the content was not made or posted by the user.
Simply put, every internet user is deemed guilty of handling such content unless proven otherwise. The Malaysia Insider cites the Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia (CIJ), the campaign organizer, yesterday:
It [the amendment] 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.
The protesting pop-up windows will direct you to two links. The first is aimed at spreading awareness regarding the new amendment and how it will affect users. While the second link asks users to like its Facebook page called “1 Million Malaysians Against Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012.” So far it has garnered around 36,000 likes.
According to Malaysiakini, the Blackout Day is supported by a total of 57 Malaysian websites, including news portals, prominent blogs, commercial sites, online resources, community sites, and NGOs. Malaysian Wikipedia also supported the campaign, but preferred to use a banner on its website rather than the black pop-up window. Numerous Malaysian political activists such as Democratic Action Party (DAP) Leader Lim Kit Siang also supported the protest by going offline for one full day as seen on his website. It’ll also impact on free speech on the web. CIJ added:
The amendment was passed in April earlier this year, and on May 31st CIJ launched an online petition to ask the government to repeal the new amendment. The petition received 3,300 signatures. Since then the organization has gathered momentum and is now trying to pressure the government in another way, this time through the Internet Blackout Day campaign.
Personally, I support the Blackout campaign. I think the new Malaysian Act is wrong in so many ways. Sure, the Act is convenient for the government to pressure internet users, website owners, and forum administrators to be legally accountable for all their website’s content. But that is wrong because the government simply shifts the burden to look for the offender onto society, whereas crime fighting and investigation should be conducted by the government and police. Innocent until proven guilty. That’s why we pay our taxes right?