Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scare, Threaten, Oppress, Scare Again... Repeat Cycle

From the New Straits Times:

The alternative media is not as untouchable as the public might think they are, [Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek] said.

As such, he said, even though people had the right to write whatever they wish through blogs and other online media, they could still be subjected to actions under the law if they spread slander online, BERNAMA reports.

"People think that the alternative media can do what they want. This is not true. Recently, there were cases against some of these bloggers," he told reporters after the launch.

Ahmad Shabery also said that the government had the responsibility to protect others from untruths and slander.

With technology available today, cyber forensics would be able to trace and detect the identity of online writers or slanderers even though they might use the anonymity of the Internet or a different name as a shield, he said.

It looks like we gave the new information minister too much credit when he said he'll listen to bloggers now. So can someone please tell me where does this threat fit in with post-election Malaysia?

Here are the facts:
1. Cyber forensics can only be done when they can obtain an IP address. If there's no fingerprints nor DNA in a murder scene, can the police identify a suspect?
2.'s services (blogging and commenting) are air-tight when it comes to privacy. If bloggers stay anonymous and don't want to be identified, there's no way that anyone can identify them unless they subpoena Google through the American judicial system.
3. Likewise, if it's not in Malaysia then it's out of the government's hands whether they like it or not.

So, let's face it. Anyone with an internet access and Google skills can dig up any piece of information lying around in a blog. It's not that hard to pinpoint a person without sophisticated cyber forensic tools. Apart from being an attempt at discouraging the public from taking up blogging, veterans won't find this statement disturbing in any way. Don't threaten bloggers, just educate the public on what's considered as responsible blogging.

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