CIJ to launch Internet Blackout Day on 14 August
7 August 2012
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) announced Malaysian civil society’s latest effort in campaigning against the newly introduced Section 114A to the Evidence Act 1950: an Internet Blackout Day
Scheduled for 14th August, the action is aimed to create awareness among Internet users about the negative impact of the amendment on online expression. Malaysia’s first Internet Blackout Day takes its cue from similar efforts in the United States and New Zealand in support of internet freedom.
On 14th August, internet users who visit participating websites will see a pop-up window which contains the message of the campaign. In addition, Netizens can change their profile pictures/avatar on Twitter and Facebook to black or use downloadable images provided by CIJ.
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 in the April 2012 sitting.
Section 114A, otherwise known as Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012, was passed by Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in April this year and was gazetted on 31st July by de facto law Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
The amendment has raised concerns from many parties such as lawyers, activists and Internet-based businesses. Under Section 114A, an Internet user is deemed the publisher of any online content unless proven otherwise. It 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. This presumption of guilt goes against a fundamental principle of justice – innocent until proven guilty — and disproportionately burdens the average person who may not have the resources to defend himself in court.
The amendment’s wide reach will affect all internet users, websites which provide space for online comments, and any business premises which give free Wi-Fi access to their customers.
In addition, the new amendment was passed despite the fact that existing laws — including the Computer Crimes Act 1997, Sedition Act 1948, Defamation Act 1957, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 — have been used to arrest and charge in court those who commit defamation, criminal defamation, fraud and sedition online.
The Internet Blackout Day has received positive response from the Internet community. Businesses who rely on the Internet such as the auction store lelong.com.my, online forum cari.com.my, and entertainment portal gua.com.my have signed up to show support. Other key supporters include online news sites such as Malaysiakini and Digital News Asia, bloggers such as Niki Cheong and Nat Tan. This initiative is also supported by civil society organisations such as SUARAM and Women’s Aid Organisation.
For more information about the Internet Blackout Day and to take part in the campaign, please visit:
1. The official blog at stop114a.wordpress.com
2. The Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/evidenceamendmentact.
3. Stop 114A’s Twibbon page for Twitter: http://twibbon.com/join/Stop-114A
4. Stop 114A’s Twibbon page for Facebook: http://twibbon.com/cause/Stop-114A/facebook
For additional information, please contact CIJ via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 03-4023 0772.
The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.
Background to the Campaign
The Internet Blackout Day is part of a campaign to call for the withdrawal of the new Section 114A in the Evidence Act 1950, otherwise known as Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012. It began on 31 May, 2012 when CIJ launched an online petition to call on the government to withdraw the Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act. The petition, which received more than 3300 signatures, was handed over to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department V.K. Liew in Parliament on 26 June.
CIJ also organized a public forum on 12 June, entitled ‘Section 114A Evidence Act: Crime-busting or Online Control?’ with a lawyer, an online activist and tech experts discussing about the repercussions of the amendment.