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Ban Youtube in Malaysia?

Rais Yatim a Member of Malaysian Parliament and a Minister in Government, has threatened Youtube with legal action over their refusal to remove the video of Innocence of Muslims. Nevermind the fact that Youtube have tried their level best to restrict access to the video from Malaysian users, and also failing to recognize the fact that Youtube is merely a video sharing site.

You have to sympathize with Google, they’ve drawn the line the sand and they’re getting the most flak of anyone in this debacle. Most people seem to forget that it was a Youtube user (not Youtube itself) that created and uploaded the film. It also may have slipped your mind, that the video clip is available on other less prominent video sharing sites like Vimeo. Yet Google is sticking to it’s guns under enormous pressure not just from Muslim Governments but from it’s own Government to take down the offensive video. At the very least they deserve commendation for their courage in the face of adversity.

Locally however, a lot of politicians and ‘journalist’ seem to be taking a more negative stance. Rocky Bru is a website by  prominent Malaysian Journalist, Datuk Ahirudin bin Attan, he’s one of the ‘pioneering’ bloggers of Malaysia and veteran journalist. His blog is a Google Page Rank 7 , and for a personal blog that’s very very high number. Yet, the one person you would expect to understand the intricacies of the internet, and the value of free speech has now come out with a suggestion to ban Youtube completely. In a previous post, I talked about how any effort to ban the video clip would be more akin to carpet-bombing than smart-missile, in this case Rocky is suggesting all out nuclear destruction.

Previously Rocky made a post in support of the Evidence Act (a downright silly piece of legislature) and even pasted an entire plethora of technical inaccuracies. Now he’s apparently in favor of banning Youtube, it’s hard to tell if he’s joking–since the tweet by him was in response to a Minister he never really liked–obviously I want to avoid the embarassment suffered by that Chinese Journalist who quoted an article from the onion–but you can’t help but take him seriously based on his track record of supporting the Evidence act.

The internet was built and design from the ground up to be de-centralized. To assume that any one government or even Governments in general can somehow control a de-centralized network is both silly and extremely time-wasting. Banning Youtube is censorship on a catastrophic scale, and serves to only force Malaysian down the slippery slope of Government controlled media (and we’ve had many years of that already). Other governments to ban youtube include Pakistan, but they’ve taken Youtube down accidentally before (so it’s no surprise that those guys aren’t exactly tech-savvy). Yet Malaysia now is viewed in the same light as Pakistan and Libya–and it sure doesn’t help that news reports from CNN and BBC quote “Government owned News Agency Bernama”.

Yet, don’t worry folks, any technical limitations placed on Malaysian Netizens can be circumvented, so I wouldn’t worry.