Contradictheory: Not the wild, wild West

I know these are 'sensitive' times, but it was sheer coincidence that this week's Contradictheory article came out at the same time the arrests rolled in. I couldn't help but notice that the diligent editors at the Star edited my piece by removing the following paragraph:

We shouldn't be shutting down entire websites because of one article on it. Yes, we should charge and arrest somebody because of that article, and make him take it down if he's found guilty, but that one article does not equal the entire server. You don't know what he's going to say in other articles.

I think that it was removed more because the Multimedia and Communications Commission reinstated access to the server, so it was a little out-of-date. In fact, their reasons for doing so are pretty much in line with what I wrote in this piece: in general, you should not be arresting people based on a presumption of what they will do in the future.

It wasn't originally meant to be a piece on the law, more on how you can't depend on technology to uphold civil society. But when I started writing about Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, I started thinking about it more.

I feel that we are still a country finding our way when it comes to interpreting our Federal Constitution with respect to the original framers' intents. The number of amendments since then has just complicated matters.

I believe that the line concerning the Freedom of Speech was originally there to reflect that open debate is important for a democracy. Vox populi, vox dei, as they say. Doesn't matter what they have to say, you should just say it.

Unless, of course, you are libellous or seditious.

Some close to me (well, more than a few) do not like our Sedition Act. I think the issue is with Section 4 that says "does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do". This is very close to Minority Report's arrest by precog.

However, I do think we need to be able to react to situations where people in authority demean or denigrate others by virtue of race and religion, especially when the strong abuse the weak. Thus, sedition laws have a place.

I guess that's what I meant when I said, "laws should be about protecting the weak and giving opportunity to the disenfranchised". Whenever law is used to strengthen the position of those in power, we should monitor it very carefully and use whatever checks and balances we have at our disposal. To me, a law (or use of it) that extends the gap between the haves and have-nots is one that is not well construed or applied.

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posted on Sunday, September 14, 2008 - permalink
You mentioned in your article that the Bill of Guarantees which ensures no Internet censorship is only meant for MSC-status companies.

Is it true then that MSC-status companies can access those banned websites? If not, then the Bill of Guarantees has been violated.

The Bill which ensures no censorship in the internet, applies to accessing websites as well as posting one own website. It does not state that the censorship is limited to protecting only MSC-status companies' websites.
You're right that if an MSC-status company finds that it can't visit a censored website, it has grounds to complain. (I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few have, in fact.)

And, yes. As I understood it, it works both ways - for sites that they visit, as well as MSC-Status companies they create. (Although I can't ever remember this question being asked in any of the press conferences!)

I always wondered what the reaction would be if a company publically specialising in online porn opened up in Cyberjaya.
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