Malaysian Government Proposes Classification of Web Bloggers
May 6, 2007 by Gaman
It looks like the recent failure to require bloggers to register with the government does not put a stop to their eagerness from coming up with another way to control web blogs.
Yesterday, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin proposes that the government has to classify web bloggers as professionals and non-professionals in an attempt to prevent ‘misuse of blog sites’.
He believed that professional bloggers were those who where more responsible in ensuring that their web content was based on the truth and not rumors. This certainly helps them in identifying bloggers that ‘have violated the country’s law.
It made me wonder if he even noticed why the previous proposal to register bloggers was met with strong criticisms on the Internet and rejected by the Prime Minster himself.
Perhaps the classification will not be made mandatory and perhaps he hopes that bloggers who choose not to register will not be viewed as trustworthy.
If they made the classification mandatory then people could easily use overseas blog platforms such as blogger.com to avoid it.
Then there’s this question on how we classify professional bloggers and non professional bloggers. Is a professional blogger defined as someone who makes a living out of blogging? If that’s the case I only know two or three professional bloggers in Malaysia then.
What preventing a professional blogger from abusing his position by writing false information on purpose – regardless which side he is on.
Again, if the average Malaysians trusted the get rich scheme websites, why should they care about some blog classification scheme?
While I totally agree that bloggers should blog responsibly, subjecting them to certain classification is not going to prevent the spread of negative or critical views of the government policies on the Internet.
Then there’s this.
The minister said that during his recent visit to France, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nice-Matin Press Group, Michel Camboul, had mentioned the need for the French government to classify bloggers and expressed concern over blog sites having an impact on newspaper circulation and the buying of advertisements in newspapers there.
Zainuddin said the Internet had yet to be widely used by the people in Malaysia and if blog sites became an alternative press that forced the shutdown of newspapers, the rural people who depended on newspapers would be denied the right to information.
So if I understand him correctly, he is blaming bloggers if newspapers are shutdown due to low circulation and thus they are responsible for denying rural people for the right to information.
Sorry but I think this is probably one of the dumbest views I’ve read coming from a government officer regarding the Internet and blogging so far.
Malaysia in not France. The question is not whether blog sites will affect newspaper circulation in the foreseeable future but how the government should work harder to increase the very low household computer penetration rate in Malaysia.
Newspaper will continue to exist as long as the Malaysian government fails to increase the household PC penetration. Ideally both medium should coexist – I am an avid reader of web blogs but I still subscribe to our local newspaper.
Why blame others when it’s obvious that it’s the government who fail in narrowing the digital divide between the rural and urban population?