Internet Blackout Day on 14 August gaining momentum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

13 August 2012

Kuala Lumpur — Malaysian civil society’s latest effort in campaigning against the newly introduced Section 114A to the Evidence Act 1950 — Internet Blackout Day – is gaining momentum and has received more endorsements from prominent websites, Netizens and politicians.

The Bar Council has confirmed taking down their website (http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/) to support this while the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is shutting down all websites administered by them and will not be updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts all day on 14th August, 2012. Tech-savvy DAP politician Lim Kit Siang and lawyer/avid Twitter user Edmund Bon have both vowed to go offline for 24hours.

Bloggers who have pledged to support a pop-up to promote the Stop 114A campaign include Marina Mahathir, Hishamuddin Rais (Tukar Tiub), Uppercaise, Nat Tan, Niki Cheong, Anil Netto, Juana Jaafar, Sarawak Bloggers, Fahmi Fadzil, myasylum etc.

Internet Blackout Day pop-up is also being supported by news sites Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini, Digital News Asia, The Nut Graph, bfm, Merdeka Review, and party organ news sites Harakah Daily and Keadilan Daily. Supporters from commercial/entrepreneurial sector include lelong.com.my, entrepreneurs.my, nexusmediaworks and MOL. From the online resources & community sector, cari.com.myanixekai.com, LoyarBurok, mobile88, jbtalks and edu.joshuatly.com

The pop-up will also appear on these civil society organisation websites: SUARAM, Women’s Aid Organisation, ALIRAN, Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU), Research for Social Advancement, Relevant Facts, Sparkling Analysis (REFSA), Sinar Project, SEACeM, Tindak Malaysia, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), Lawyers for Liberty, Perak Women for Women, Empower, Women’s Centre For Change, All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Sisters in Islam (SIS) and more.

On Twitterverse, the campaign is also supported by @sultanmuzaffar – who has 248,119 followers and @klubkiddkl with 223,105 followers.

The Blackout Day has also received international attention – highlighted in tweets by popular whistle-blower WikiLeaks and global digital freedom NGO Access Now.

Scheduled for 14th August, the Internet Blackout Day initiative 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

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.

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.

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 cijmalaysia (a) gmail.com or call us at 03-4023 0772.

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, 2012.

CIJ also organized a public forum on 12 June, 2012, 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.

On Aug 11, 2012, CIJ, with National Young Lawyers Committee and Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok co-hosted a discussion on legal implications of Section 114A with three lawyers and Member of Parliament and Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

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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.