Blogger registration, or becoming an international laughing stock?

Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, is without a doubt, someone who cannot understand the dynamics of the Internet. And he serves as the Deputy Engery, Water and Communications Minister in Malaysia. Why, you ask?

He wants bloggers to register with the authorities, to prevent the spread of “negative or malicious content”. He hasn’t defined the difference of a blog being hosted in Malaysia (I guess this will be a hit for web hosting companies there) or just the ones with the .my suffix, though he seems to be aiming for the latter. Just like in Australia, to get a you need a company backing that up – why would a company host malicious blogs? A web hosting company, is of course, exempt from whatever it is they host.

Blogs, are the hype du jour. You don’t need one to spread malicious or anti-government propoganda. People were blogging, long before blogging software existed – early Internet adopters, just wrote in regular HTML. If a blog is meant to tell what you’re doing or going to do, does anyone remember finger and the Unix .plan file? Blogs might have just made the barrier to entry for publishing lower (but one can argue that, so has Microsoft FrontPage).

The Johor Baru MP, Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad thinks, “that the problem was also about inflammatory comments by unidentified visitors to the blogs.” You can’t control what commenters say, and if you don’t exert any editing right over comments (quite unlike Jeff Ooi), you’re protected by the law. If you’re going to run a political forum, exert no editorial content over the comments, and you’re a “saved by the Communications & Multimedia Act 1998” common carrier.

Back in the heyday (’98), the government did say, no-censorship on the Internet. If people are going to move to hosting blogs overseas, this will be a very dark day for Malaysian web hosters (so I suggest, they stand up, together and submit to the government or relevant bodies, how silly this idea is). Marina Mahathir (Dr. Mahathir, ex-Prime Minister’s, daughter) has always mention this would make Malaysia look ridiculous.

It’s also ironic, now that Kathy Sierra has received death threats, people are talking about a bloggers code of conduct, policing the blogs, and so forth. If you listen to Adam Curry’s daily source code, he’s got some interesting recent episodes (DSC576,575, possibly 574) about how wanting to register or police is really silly. We’re all humans, and we’ve all got our ugly sides. The Internet as a whole is just a new medium, that a lot of politicians or people in high ranking places don’t seem to understand.

Why does this matter to me? Its not like I’m running a political website. But I do have interests in the freedom of the Malaysian Internet – those of you that receive email from me, realize it usually comes from a address, something I’ve not bothered (or wanted to, really) change for years. I also have servers sitting in Malaysian data centers (bandwidth, unlimited, and comparatively cheaper than hosting in Australia).

Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign
Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign!

In conclusion, it should be noted that I refuse to register anything, and if the government chooses to be silly, I will be moving my interests elsewhere.

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