Netizens together with Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has joined hands to request the parliament withdraw the amendments made on Evidence Act on May 31st.
As we understand, the amendments made on the Evidence Act last May allows the authorities to clamp down and detect those sharing something against the law using any means of social media. It also allows netizens to be charged and be held responsible for any sort of sharing made, be it their on production. This largely means that if a stranger posted something bad using your account, you can be held responsible despite you not knowing it.
To clarify, the movement claims that the new act is not beneficial, and brings more harm than benefits as they stress out the six points given below:
- It presumes guilt rather than innocence which contradicts the basis of our justice system. The newly introduced Section 114a goes against the principle of presumption of innocence meant to protect individuals against wrongful conviction and check against abuse of power by the authorities.
- It makes Internet intermediaries — parties that provide online community forums, blogging and hosting services — liable for content that is published through its services. It can result in the removal of comment functions which has a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media favoured by readers.
- It threatens freedom of expression online because the assumption of guilt has the chilling effect of promoting fear amongst those who use the Internet as a vibrant, interactive space for democratic deliberations. It also reduces the spaces for posting legitimate comments and opinions.
- It allows hackers and cyber criminals to be free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for any content/data which might have changed. The more skilled you are at hacking, the more the law protects you by assuming the party being hacked is guilty of the offence.
- It reduces the opportunity to be anonymous online which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet. This principle is particularly important to safeguard vulnerable individuals who depend on the anonymous nature of the Internet to protect themselves, e.g. women in situations of domestic violence who may be at risk if they are identified. Anonymity is also indispensible to protect whistleblowers from persecution by the authorities when they expose abuses of power.
- The amendment is a bad law passed in haste and does not take into account public interest and participation.
To show their seriousness, CIZ has asked the public to sign an online petition which is located at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/1million-malaysians-against-evidence-amendment-no2.html.
The movement has also set up a Facebook page called 1Million Malaysians against Evidence (Amendment) (No2) Act 2012 and has declared August 14, 2012 as an Internet blackout day in which is said to imitate what happened in the US when netizens wanted new laws in SOPA and PIPA unapproved by their senate. The Facebook page at 12:25PM had 592 ‘LIKES’.
For more information on the movement, visit http://www.stop114a.wordpress.com