According to a leaked confidential memo, the Malaysian government is ordering the ISPs in the country to block many file sharing websites including The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload. The decision to block the websites is taken by the Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) the arm of the Malaysian government which supervises the telecom and multimedia industry in Malaysia.
According to memo sent by the SKMM to the Malaysian ISPs, file sharing websites are in violation of Section 41 of the Copyright Act of 1987. The SKMM is, therefore, ordering the ISPs to block access to those websites under Section 263 (1) and 263 (2) of the Communication and Multimedia Act of 1998.
This is what Section 263 (1) and Section 263 (2) of the Communication and Multimedia Act says:
(1) A licensee shall use his best endeavour to prevent the network facilities that he owns or provides or the network service, applications service or content applications service that he provides from being used in, or in relation to, the commission of any offence under any law of Malaysia.
(2) A licensee shall, upon written request by the Commission or any other authority,assist the Commission or other authority as far as reasonably necessary in preventing the commission or attempted commission of an offence under any written law of Malaysia or otherwise in enforcing the laws of Malaysia, including, but not limited to, the protection of the public revenue and preservation of national security.
The websites that the SKMM wants to block are:
The decision by the Malaysian government to block these websites will come as a surprise to many. In April, Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, promised that his government will never censor the internet. This is what he said in April:
Some of their politicians are even calling a gag on the internet, or at least some form of government controls and regulations, in the name of national security. I’m not sure why other governments do it, especially if it is true that these told of the Internet can be a pain in the neck. But on behalf of my own government, I can say for certain that it is because we know that this is the way forward. We practice open democracy, and as digital democracy is concerned, it is inevitable, that it would be silly â€” perhaps even futile â€” for governments to resist or ignore.
So, what has changed between then and now? Apparently the interpretation of the word censorship. According to Section 3 of the Communication and Multimedia Act of 1998, any action that the Malaysian government takes under to the Communication and Multimedia Act of 1998 cannot be regarded as censorshipof the internet. This is what Section 3 of the Communication and Multimedia Act of 1998 says:
(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.
This means that according to this Act, censoring the internet by blocking the websites mentioned above cannot be called censorshipas the blocking is done through Section 263 (1) and Section 263(2) of the same Act.
The non-censorship stance of the SKMM and the Malaysian government has been just a facade so far. It is an open secret that various porn websites are blocked in Malaysia. The blocking of porn could be justified because pornography is illegal in Malaysia. However, the case with these file sharing websites is different. Not every file they host is illegal or in the case of The Pirate Bay, they do not even host any of those files on their servers. Many independent application developers and indie bands release their applications/albums through such channels to keep the cost of bandwidth down. As an example, the band Sick of Sarahrecently released their album “2205” through such channels.
As of now, it seems that some ISPs are yet to take action and many of these websites are still accessible. The ISPs that have implemented the block seem to have done it only at the DNS level. So, the block can be easily be undone by simply using Google DNS or OpenDNS. The IPs for Google DNS are 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 and that for OpenDNS are 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.
You will also out Tutorial on setting up Google Public DNS on Windows very useful for setting up alternative DNS on your PC.
Here are the leaked documents:
(Click to see the full size images.)