Saturday August 8, 2009
No censorship of the Internet
By LESTER KONG and ZULKIFLI ABD RAHMAN
KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will not impose any censorship of the Internet, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
He said such a move would be ineffective and could cause dissatisfaction among the people.
He said this immediatelty after Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed there were plans to develop an Internet filtering system, although only for pornography.
Dr Rais said the move was to protect Malaysian children from online smut.
Speaking to reporters after launching the Majlis Jalinan Rakyat at the people’s housing project at Batu Muda here yesterday, Najib said:
“Such a policy (to filter the Internet) will usually be decided by the Cabinet, but we have no intention to do it because it will be ineffective.
“So far, there is no change in the Government’s policy in this issue.”
Najib said information travels freely in the developing world of information and communication technology.
“If we put a form of control, the people cannot accept it,” he said.
Earlier, when confirming that he was looking at an Internet filtering system, Dr Rais said authorities such as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) who were responsible for policing Malaysia’s cyberspace were told to look into implementing the system.
“I have asked the authorities to find ways to implement this and study how developed countries have successfully overcome the problem of pornography,” he said. Dr Rais however side-stepped a question on the tender process for companies to develop the system.
Online and wire news agencies had reported that the Government had called for a tender to develop an Internet filtering system similar to China’s controversial Green Dam project to block “undesirable websites”.
Commission chief executive officer and acting chairman Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi confirmed that it was only looking into developing filters to stop elements of pornography, scams, spam and phishing.
Sharil said that the commission had been conducting surveys to find out “what makes Malaysians tick” when it comes to online content from a development standpoint.
“The study may show that parents want more controls to filter pornography and spams to protect their children,” he said.
He added that it was not feasible for the Government to monitor and block access to all websites that were deemed “undesirable”.