Malaysian internet users are staging a one-day “Internet blackout” to protest changes in a new law that regulates freedom of expression.
Due to the amendments in the 114A section of the Evidence Act, which went into effect in April this year, any internet user, wifi provider, mobile device user, website host can be found liable for defamatory comments posted on his blog or website even if his system is hacked.
Centre for Independent Journalism is calling all Malaysians to participate in the Stop 114A campaign by posting Stop 114A badge on your Facebook and Twitter pages whereas website and bloggers can add a pop-up to their sites in opposition.
Centre of Independent Journalism’s executive officer Masjaliza Hamzah said that the objective of this action is for netizens to urge the government to withdraw the amendment which, together with a few other laws, was passed hastily in parliament.
Activists consider it an attempt to clamp down on any form of dissent before the election.
Premesh Chandran, founder of online news site Malaysiakini, said that this provision is unjust and easily subject to abuse.
"The change is a mockery to the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'. We believe that the government is using this subtle change to erode freedom of speech online,” he said in a press statement.
Malaysian authorities in the 1990s tried to stay away from censorship to allow easy foreign investments but have been accused time and again to block some sites.
The 24-hour blackout will last until midnight and is being supported by news websites, public figures, community forums, NGOs and many other companies.