Across the world nobody really has found a sensible way to police or control the internet. Recently in Malaysia the latest in line of non-sensical laws has caused complaints and protests. The Law in question is section 114A of the Evidence Act and it basically makes people liable for content published on the internet on or using their internet enabled devices.
So for example if I posted a few hateful or illegal comments on your blog – then you’d be the one who got into trouble. If I hacked into your computer and used it to upload illegal software – again you’d be responsible. It would make free speech almost impossible and people would be pretty much too scared to post anything or set up anything online.
There was an official day of protest where thousand blacked out their websites and blogs with black pages criticising the Evidence Act. The Malaysian Prime Minister has promised to review the proposed changes to the 60 year old law.
There is a huge problem with what’s allowed and what isn’t online. There are so many grey areas in copyright, censorship and filtering of the internet. For instance many media companies block access to their content based on their location. So Pandora only allows you to listen to music in the USA and the BBC and ITV block access outside the UK. But there are always workarounds for instance this page shows how you can watch UK TV in the USA – click for details. But what’s the legal position, is the copyright breached because of where you are or can you argue that it immaterial as it’s just online. Even if a company can clarify the legality, it’s options are often limited by local laws and practices. Although there have been attempts to standardise internet criminal and commercial law – there’s still a huge variation across the world.