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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Amendment 114A: Why it MUST be repealed

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Today is the Malaysian Internet Blackout Day.

Since you’re reading this, you would have seen the pop-up, which will remain in place for 24 hours, spanning the whole of August 14.

And by now, you should  know why this initiative has been carried out by the Center for Independent Journalism (better known as CIJ).

But just in case you still aren’t certain why the fuss, kindly take a few minutes to view this PSA.

It’s an insidious piece of legislation that should be repealed with immediate effect. Among other things, it violates the most basic tenet of law: that one is innocent UNTIL proven guilty.

And that, as The Titanic found out, is just the tip of the iceberg...
(the 114A lowdown, and more, in the full post)

CIJ has put together a whole bunch of resources for you to find out more about the amendment to the Evidence Act 1950, but here are the key points (taken from the CIJ FAQ on Amendment 114A):

1. What is 114A?
Section 114a is a new amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 that was passed in parliament without debate in April 2012. The section is called “Presumption of fact in publication”. It states that any owner, admin, host, editor, subscriber of a network or website, or owner of computer or mobile device is presumed to have published or re-published its contents.

2. Why is it a problem?
It has wide-ranging reach and extends not only to practically everyone who uses any internet platform – from e-mail and social media to blogs and online media – but also those who don’t.

It is a problem because:

  • It presumes guilt rather than innocence.
  • It makes individuals and organisations who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services, liable for content that is published through its services.
  • It allows hackers and cyber criminals to go free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for any content/data which might have changed.
  • It can make you liable for content that you did not publish when someone creates an account in your name.
  • It threatens the principle of anonymity online, which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet.
  • It threatens freedom of expression online.

In other words, it is against the core principles of justice, democracy and fundamental human rights.

3. How will this affect you?
If 114a is not stopped, you will be held responsible for the words of others. It can also result in the removal of comment functions, curtailing your space for posting legitimate comments and opinions. This impacts your democratic right to participate freely and openly in public debate and discussions. Indirectly, it will foster a climate of self-censorship, and will have a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media.

4. Why do we want to stop 114a?
Our opinions – as netizens and as citizens – matter. If the new Evidence Act were gazetted, 114a would seriously hinder the democratic right to freedom of expression on the Net.

Let’s keep online spaces free and open to critical comments and debates.

click on image to view larger version

But the problem with Amendment 114A does not stop with freedom of expression and burden of proof. It does have a real impact on the Tech and Business sectors as well, articulated in this article (by Digital News Asia Executive Editor and Founder, Asohan Aryadurai).

We’re hopeful that with this initiative, many more will find out about Amendment 114A, and why it must be repealed. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who don’t actually know about this.

click on image to find out more

So do yourselves and your friends a favor – spread the word about this. And if you’d like to participate, the previous post we put up tells you how. Or click on the image above.

Act now, before your Internet freedom becomes history…