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Malaysia Drops the Pretense of Not Censoring the Internet

Sinar Project was mentioned in one of EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) article about online censorship by Malaysian authorities.



Censorship Comes Out Into the Open

The government's censorship of the Sarawak Report is remarkable both for its unapologetic execution and for its blatant political character, but it is hardly the first time that the government or its supporters have censored Malaysia's Internet—whether openly or less so. During the 2013 general election, strong evidence emerged of Malaysian ISPs throttling access to alternative news portals and pro-opposition content on YouTube. However, when confronted with this evidence, the MCMC denied that any such restrictions had been put in place and simply blamed the outages on congestion.

The following year, the BBC reported on the Malaysian Prime Minister's response to complaints about raises in the cost of basic goods and services, such as fuel and electricity—to which he responding by simply pointing out that the price of Chinese water spinach, kangkung, had lately fallen. The story went viral, spawning all manner of video parodies and image memes. Embarrassed, government ministers began to call for crackdowns on the phenomenon, only to be stymied by the government's promise that there would be no censorship of the Internet.

Or were they? Despite the promises, users soon began to share reports about difficulties they had in attempting to access the embarrassing BBC report. Investigations by Malaysian transparency NGO Sinar Project revealed that indeed, it did appear that Malaysian ISPs were blocking or throttling access to the report. Sinar Project not only meticulously documented their findings, but they even released their tools on Github to allow others to replicate their investigation. Yet, once again, the government denied all responsibility for the outages.

Given this history, it seems highly likely that the blocking of the Sarawak Report is not the first time Malaysia has engaged in political censorship of the Internet—it is merely the first time that the government has openly admitted to it.

Read full article at Electronic Frontier Foundation


Story Type: News

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