Malaysia: Proposal to register bloggers

Recent news reports state that Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, announced that bloggers using locally hosted websites may be required to register with the authorities. According to Rais, registration was one of the measures the government was considering to prevent the spread of “negative” or “malicious content” on the Internet.

However, authorities apparently have no problems with bloggers who identify themselves.

Respected Malaysian blogger, Ahirudin Attan of Rocky's Bru, was reported to have said that the proposal was effectively the government's bid to control what Malaysians were writing online. He was reported to have said:

This violates the Government's no-censorship policy with regards to the Internet.

Ahirudin said the move would merely encourage bloggers to host their blogs overseas. Blogger and activisit, Marina Mahathir, was reported to have said that the Government really should “get real”, as the move “is just going to make Malaysia look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.”

Meanwhile, the Information, Communications and Culture Minister said the proposal was a good idea, although it required indepth study. He noted that bloggers still had to face the existing laws for defamation and sedition. He was further reported to have said:

… we are studying a new Act, the Multimedia Signature Act, which has been in the pipeline the past three years. This Act is expected to support the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

This news comes shortly after recent findings that the country has about 500,000 active bloggers, making Malaysia rank among other high-ranking blogging countries like Indonesia and the European Union.

According to Universiti Malaya media department lecturer, Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah, blogs were one of the key factors that caused the current administration to lose its usual two-thirds majority in the recent elections.


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