Monthly archives of “July 2013

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Why Dato’ Sri Shabery Really wants to censor the internet

[box icont=”chat’]The social media in Malaysia is being monitored and existing laws are sufficient to weed out troublemakers trying to test the limits of free speech, Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said today…

“The laws that we make are not to defend the party alone – that’s wrong,” Ahmad Shabery, who is also an Umno supreme council member, said.

In an attempt to curb internet freedom in Malaysia, the government is beginning a series of concerted statements to signal that internet censorship in Malaysia is merely a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Previously I’ve explored why internet censorship doesn’t alleviate or even mitigate the risk of communal violence, yet the government still presses on with trying to censor the internet, apparently jumping on the opportunity of Alvivi to make their case stronger.

So why is the government so enamoured by the thought of internet censorship, when clearly it doesn’t work?

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The root cause of crime

Crime has become a hot-button topic these days, and while a lot of fingerpointing and blame-shifting has been going on in political circles, I think it’s wise we took a step back and try to address the root problem rather…

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The Security Offences Bill 2012 -Technology Perspective

Government Eavesdropping on your conversations

The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and it’s new amendment. that wonderful piece of legislation meant to repeal the archaic and ‘draconian’ ISA may turn out to be even more archaic and draconian than the ISA it was meant to replace.

While much of the legal fanfare has been focusing on the detention without trial sections of the bill, as a tech blogger, I wanted to focus on the technical aspects of it. Specifically let’s focus on how the new law would allow the government to eavesdrop onto your internet communication without the authorization of any Judge or Judicial oversight. Now while, the public prosecutor, or Attorney General in this country isn’t specifically part of the government–he (or she) is appointed by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong on the ‘advice’ of the Prime Minister.

The sections of the bill that focus on the interception of communication is both all-encompassing and far-reaching, giving far too much power to the Public Prosecutor to intercept your private conversations and web surfing habits, which is a gross invasion of privacy.

Power to intercept Communications

The act grants exceeding  powers to the Public Prosecutor, including the ability to authorize any police officer to intercept your postal letters, your internet conversations, you email and even your web surfing habits. This includes a list of the website you visits, and which comments you’re posting on Malaysiakini.

On top of this, the Public Prosecutor has the legal authority to compel an ISP to intercept and retain any communication you performed for an unspecified amount of time. Which could be forever.

Basically he can begin to ask Maxis or Unifi for the list of websites you visit, and your detailed online communications,  access to your emails, your friend list on facebook, your tweets and even your online files. Not even your online porn stash will be free from the prying eyes of the Public Prosecutor (not that I have one though…just saying, I know a friend who does).

All this without ever having to go to a Judge for judicial oversight. More importantly, anything collected in this way is deemed admissible as evidence in court, and no one will have to explain how the evidence was obtained. For all you know they could have placed webcams in your home, but they would would never have to explain this in court.

What’s worse is that a Police Superintendent is granted similar powers when “immediate action is required leaving no moment of deliberation“.

We all understand the need for the Police and Public Prosecutors to do their job well, and they require tools to catch the bad guys. However, this grants them way too much power with regards to their ability to invade the privacy of personal citizens. I don’t want the Public Prosecutor or a curious Police Superintendent snooping on my internet conversations, and yet the new Special offences act allows them to do that–legally!