A year of server stories you can read in 10 minutes. Includes key stats and a list of additional writing, audio, and video from the 72 blogs we published in 2018. Some hate to look back, but they are the few. For those who are battle-scarred, or those who are new, this blog’s for you. Before I start writing my new year’s resolutions, I like to reflect on where I’ve been. It helps me assess if I am on the right path as I prepare for a new beginning. So let’s look back on 2018. A … READ MORE
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PUTRAJAYA’S special committee to formulate laws to curb “fake news” should be viewed with serious concern, as it might at the expense of freedom of speech, expression, information and the press, said a lawyers’ group.
New laws could also be open to abuse as questions remain whether the government is able to distinguish “blatantly fabricated” information from critical news reporting that otherwise contains errors, said Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).
“With such a wide web of legislation, is there a need for more laws that can potentially be misused as after all, we see these laws being unfairly and selectively used against those who are perceived as anti-government while those who are pro-government are usually let off,” said LFL executive director Eric Paulsen in a statement today.
“Can we seriously expect the authorities to be the impartial arbiter, or will they arbitrarily interpret unfavourable news as ‘fake news’? Will we have an Orwellian version of ‘the truth’, i.e. it is only ‘true’ if the information has been verified by the government?”
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said announced on Tuesday that a task force has been formed to study new laws aimed at tackling fake news, which could threaten political stability, and undermine public order and national security.
The task force may come up with a proposal to submitted to the cabinet for consideration and be brought to Parliament in the next sitting.
The task force met for the first time last week and included representatives from the police, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Legal Affairs Division, National Security Council, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, and Communications and Multimedia Ministry.
There are “serious concerns” that disputed or genuine errors in reporting will become a pretext to attack independent media outlets, said Paulsen.
“We have seen Malaysiakini investigated numerous times and its editor-in-chief and CEO charged after uploading a video of an allegedly ‘offensive’ press conference.
“The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has also arbitrarily blocked access to several websites over genuine reporting that has upset the government, including The Malaysian Insider, causing the news portal to shut down,” he said.
There are enough available laws to tackle offensive speeches or communications, such as the Penal Code, Communications and Multimedia Act, Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act, he said.
“‘Fake news’ is not the exaggerated threat to public order or national security that the government has made it out to be but merely the reality of the internet and social media.
“Attempting to regulate what is ‘true’ or ‘false’ in cyberspace will be futile, as obviously, no one has a monopoly over the ‘truth’,” Paulsen said.
Instead of coming up with new laws, LFL proposed that the government should focus on educating the public to be vigilant and be aware of the sources of information, so that they become more discerning in consuming and sharing news content. – February 2, 2018.