Source : Malaysiakini
In a rare move, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has ordered all internet service providers (ISPs) to block controversial online portal Malaysia Today.
MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, when contacted today, confirmed that the block was ordered by the commission.
"It is being blocked because we found that some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement," he told Malaysiakini.
As at 7pm, a check by Malaysiakini showed users are unable to access Malaysia Today through three major ISPs - TMnet, Maxis and Time. However, users can still access the errant website through Jaring.
This is believed to be the first time such curbs have been initiated against a non-pornographic website, posing questions as to whether the government is reneging on its no-Internet censorship pledge.
Under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees, the government promises to ensure no internet censorship.
The domain name - http://www.malaysia-today.net - has been unaccessible to TMnet subscribers since yesterday evening as a result of the blockage - known technically as 'DNS blackhole list'. [See full image]
Local internet users however can still access the website by typing in Malaysia Today's IP address or an alternative web address in their web browsers.
Mohamed Sharil said MCMC had instructed all ISPs to block access to Malaysia Today based on complaints received by the general public regarding offensive comments posted on the website.
Asked if the move to block Malaysia Today went against the government’s guarantee of Internet freedom, he said that the matter was subject to interpretation.
“We are governed by the Communications and Multimedia Act (1998) which allows us to take preventive measures and advise our license holders (such as ISPs) when a service user may be contravening national laws,” he said.
Under Section 263 of the Act, a licensee must “use his best endeavour” to prevent his/her facilities from being used to violate any law in the country.
Mohamed Sharil said that MCMC will be communicating with the Malaysia Today owner Raja Petra Kamaruddin and other blog owners soon regarding “ethical blogging”.
“We are not against blogs, but we would like to see ethical blogging,” he stressed.
RPK: Why should I protest?
Meanwhile, Raja Petra said he is in the dark as to why his website was being blocked, adding that he heard rumours of a MCMC circular.
“I couldn’t be bothered to protest (against the move). What do you expect me to do? Do you think they would listen?” he asked when contacted.
Over the years, Raja Petra has attracted a strong fan base and a string of lawsuits due to his no holds barred articles and knack for posting sensitive documents online.
In an immediate reaction, Communication and Multimedia Licensee Association (CMLA) - which represents all ISP licence holders in Malaysia - chairperson Afzal Abdul Rahim urged bloggers to practice self-regulation.
“We support the open flow of information across the internet and a self-regulating environment. The best way for us to find some amenable middle ground between, airing opinions and being partial to community sensitivities, we strongly urge the blogosphere to practise a commensurate amount of self moderation,” he said.