March 22, 2007 |
The AFP is reporting that Malaysian Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin has told Malaysian newspapers not to use blogs for quotes or any other source of information in their reporting. According to Zainuddin, the papers should "not quote them because you are disgracing yourself as you are the authority. Do not give credit to such anarchist websites."
The media in Malaysia is under very strict government control, being required to adhere to the country's Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA) published in 1984. According to the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA), the PPPA "gives the internal security minister absolute discretion in granting, refusing, revoking or suspending a publishing license, with no option for judicial review."
Malaysians have taken to blogs to criticize the government, most likely seeing the web venue as an opportunity to escape the government controlled media to make their voices heard. Some of these blog posts, which have been critical of the government, and have accused some government officials of corruption, have led to news reports in the mainstream media.
In addition to asking the media not to use blogs for information, Zainuddin has also told the Malaysian public that blogs are not to be trusted, and that they should pay attention to the mainstream media to get their news. Two Malaysian bloggers are already being sued by the New Straits Times for defamation after the bloggers criticized the paper's executives.
We're already seeing issues with free speech surrounding bloggers in Egypt. User-driven content is obviously going to reflect the views of the people, and as blogs and other sites with user-created content begin to proliferate more in other parts of the world, there is bound to be an impact. Whether it results in tighter government control of what citizens can access online or whether citizens gain more freedom as a result remains to be seen.
Additional Source: ZDNet India