All posts filed under “Copyright and Censorship

A collection of post I’ve written about intellectual property and censorship

comment 0

Block This!!

A notice posted on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) Facebook page said the decision was made to block websites that “promote, spread information and encourage people to join the Bersih 4 demonstration“, on grounds that this will “threaten…

comment 1

TM blocking SarawakReport

Sarawakreport, a website covering sensitive political topics in Malaysia was blocked today by the countries most prominent ISP, Telekom Malaysia (TM). Internet users using TM’s Domain Name Server (DNS) reported that the website was inaccessible, and I’ve confirmed that is…

comment 0

Censorship and Freedom

What’s the price of falling in love? What are the consequences of being head over heels, mindless crazy in love with someone? I would say the price of falling in love is the possibility of getting hurt. Sometimes the person…

comment 1

The one reason you should oppose the TPP

img_20150507_095640Today I attended an Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) event about the TPP. Among the panel members, included Michael Froman, the US trade representative and chief advisor to President Obama on issues of International Trade and Investment. (big shot!!)

For those you don’t know, the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) agreement is a trade deal between 12 countries including Malaysia and America whose main objective is to balance out the power and influence China has over the region. But the TPP has been opposed by many NGOs and special interest groups, for good reason–it’s secret. The TPP has garnered such a bad reputation, it’s sort of like the Justin Bieber of trade agreements, everyone knows about it, but nobody likes it.

The event went on for a good 40 minutes, before your friendly neighbourhood tech blogger got a hold of the mic to ask about the secrecy of the trade agreement.Prior to that everyone was talking about Bumi Policies,Price of Medicine and impacts to SMEs. I really didn’t understand why no one spoke about the tremendous secrecy surrounding the talks and how the secrecy itself is fundamentally undemocratic and bad enough for Malaysians to reject the agreement.

This secrecy is the one reason every Malaysian should oppose the TPP. Everything else is moot, because we can’t confirm the documents we’ve seen until it’s made publicly available to the citizens of the countries negotiating the deal. Would you sign a housing loan agreement without the ability to first read the contract? Yet, here with the TPP we have a legally binding 29-chapter multi-lateral agreement that very few people have seen, but will impact all Malaysians once signed. How do we know the prices of medicines are going up? Oh that’s right, we read it from Wikileaks …. must definitely be true then. Sorry let’s move on.

comment 0

The Snowden Revelations

SnowdenIt’s now almost two years on, since that fateful day at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong when Edward Snowden divulged secret NSA documents detailing unlawful and on-going spying programs carried out in the name of security.

Sure we knew the government had ‘a’ spying program, and we’ve all seen Hollywood movies with fictional technology that allowed governments to carry out un-restricted surveillance,  but no one in their wildest dreams would have imagined a government having access to ALL phone calls, ALL e-mails, ALL text messages and ALL transactions…and then storing that information for ALL time.

What we’ve learnt so far is that the NSA had executed bulk surveillance on the American people (and us poor non-Americans as well) across all channels of communications including phone calls, internet searches and e-mail without a proper court warrant, congressional approval or oversight of any kind. Particularly strange for a country whose own constitution protects the rights of citizens against illegal searches and seizures. I’m no lawyer, but even to layman like me, the bill of rights looks like a masterpiece, and the fourth amendment is a beautifully written piece of law:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

-4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

In other words, if you want to search smartphones, computers or e-mail accounts, you’ll need a warrant. And the law goes on to state, that warrants can only be issued, upon probable cause, that must be affirmed by a Judge providing the necessary oversight. Finally, even after a warrant is issued,it must state the place of the search and things to be seized. A warrant shall not act as a blanket approval for law enforcement to look through all aspects of the citizens life, but only that which is explicitly stated in the warrant.

comment 0

The day they censored me

internet censorship

Last week was a pretty exciting week for me–it was my first time on TV.

A TV show called VBuzz that was hosted on a Astro Channel 231 called me to be a guest to talk about Cyber Security, obviously I make it point to try new things and let’s be honest….how many of you would turn down a chance to be on TV? I mean this is Television, if you’re on it you must be good right?! Even if it is a Tamil channel, and it’s on at 9pm, I thought this would be exicting…and it was!

Anyway, they scheduled me in for a show on Tuesday, and I happily took some time off work to go down to their studio and all was really great. Until….

The first thing they told me was that I couldn’t talk about the recent MAS hack, because they were afraid. The Obvious question I had was–afraid of what? Apparently, MAS was a Government Linked Company, and they couldn’t talk bad about a GLC for fear of losing their license. Now I had no intention of talking bad about MAS, just trying to help people understand what happened in the hack, but they were still afraid. So OK, you can still have a 15 minute conversation about cyber security without talking about MAS…no problem.

So I got my ‘HD’ make-up on, because High Definition recording captures so much detail of your face, that they need special make-up for it. I found that quite amusing, plus I never knew so much effort and co-ordination went into making a production like this.

We started off with ‘easy’ topics like cyber criminals and hacking incidences, and the conversation was light and flowed pretty well, but then (according to plan) we veered into cyber warfare, which was a topic I was deeply into over the last few weeks. And out pop-ed a question like “What can governments do to ….” to which I responded that “Governments were the biggest perpretators of the crime“. This didn’t sit well with the producers or the writers, and at the end of the show we did a re-take of that bit, censoring out a my statement, which I maintained wasn’t just true, but totally consistent with the entire show.

comment 1

Malaysian Government Hacked Environmental website?

How IP addressing works

Environment News Service, an environmental focused news website this week accused Malaysian government hackers of attacking it after it ran a story implicating Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud of corruption and graft. As a result, the site was down for 2-hours, before the site manage to re-gain control.

“The attack on our site came from a Malaysian government entity as identified by their IP address,” Sunny Lewis, editor-in-chief of Environment News Service (ENS)

But what exactly is an IP address, and how did ENS identify it?

Let me explain.

comments 2

Is illegal downloading considered stealing?


There’s a general perception that illegal downloads of movies, music or books is akin to stealing the works of the artist, singers and authors. But downloads are more akin to trespassing than it is stealing–they’re nothing like stealing and if you take some time off to think about it, you’d figure this out too.

When you steal something, you’re denying the victim something,if you steal my car, you’ve taken something from me that I can no longer use. Stealing is a zero sum game, where the perpetrator gets something, and victim loses something. Obviously stealing is bad, but downloading isn’t stealing.

When you illegally download music, you’re not denying anyone else something physical. The music that you downloaded is still on the server you sourced it from, all you did was make a copy. Illegal downloading, isn’t zero sum, you profited (maybe),but no one lost anything of value. And so the rules that we devise for digital information (which can be replicated freely) shouldn’t be the same rules we apply for physical items like cars, and gold coins (which can’t be replicated freely).

Of course, the argument is that illegal downloads deny the content creators income they rightfully deserve, but that’s only true in a handful of cases. If someone refused to sell you their content regardless the price you’d be willing to pay–does it then make it morally wrong for you to download the material? You cannot consider it a loss for the content creator if they never intended to sell the item to you in the first place.You cannot deny income to someone who refuses to take your money, so therefore an ‘illegal’ download isn’t stealing at all.

And it doesn’t stop there. What happens if the content creators are just plain jerks–would it be morally wrong to copy their digital data–and would that be considered stealing?

comment 0

CheDet on Censorship

Tun Dr. Mahathir now says he’s change his mind about internet censorship. To quote him “Not knowing the power of the Internet, I promised that we (speaking as the Prime Minister of Malaysia) would not censor it. But today I…