Malaysia's parliament on August 16th repealed a law against fake news introduced this year by the administration of
former prime minister Najib Razak.
A bill to repeal the law was passed by the lower house of Malaysia's parliament, a day ahead of the new Pakatan Harapan government marking its first 100 days in government.
Najib's government secured a simple majority in April to pass the Anti-Fake News 2018 Bill, which set out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit (US$122,000) and jail of up to six years.
Critics denounced the law as repressive and accused Najib of trying to curb free speech ahead of a May general election as his government tried to fend off criticism over accusations of graft and mismanagement.
Najib lost the election to an opposition alliance led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who had promised to scrap the law.
Parliament debated a motion to repeal the law for about three hours before passing it by a simple voice vote.
This is a law that was clearly designed to silence criticism of the authorities and to quell public debate -- it should never have been allowed to pass in the first place, Teddy Baguilat, a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human
Rights, said in a statement.
New Zealand could follow the United Kingdom in bringing in age restrictions for online
pornography and blocking websites which refuse to comply.
Department of Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who also holds the children's portfolio, says young people are being bombarded by internet pornography and she wants censorship laws to be strengthened.
This is a really, really big issue to New Zealand and we are going to have a serious conversation about it, she told the Herald. Martin supports the approach of the United Kingdom, which has ambitious and controversial plans to introduce mandatory
age verification for pornographic websites later this year.
She made the comments after the Chief Censor began a major piece of research on New Zealand teenagers' online pornography habits. We're pretty excited about it, Chief Censor David Shanks said.
We think it's going to give us some potentially world-leading data on the New Zealand situation and teens and pornography. With this research our aim is to get solid evidence about the experiences and perspectives of young people on the table so
there can be an informed debate.
In our view policy in this area does need some consideration, in terms of how do you regulate use and access to porn in the digital environment. The question there is . . . when the average age to get a smartphone is 10 and a half to 11 years
old, what sort of tools and restrictions can we really place on access to material that's widely available on the internet?
The Office of Film and Literature Classification began the survey last week of 2300 people aged between 14 and 17. It asks if teenagers look at online pornography, how often, what sort of content, why they are looking at it, and how they are
viewing it. The survey is expected to be completed in December.
Martin said the Chief Censor's research was vital work, though she is already intent on changes:
I have already had conversations with the Chief Censor with regard to a particular drive of mine to make sure we as a nation do something about what is the bombardment of pornography and the easy access to pornography that our young people are
Considering our censorship laws were pre-internet, this is an area that we have left for a long time without addressing and I think we need to address it.
Martin said she was not interested in wholesale bans on online content because they did not work. But she supported the UK Government's approach, saying she was interested in any policy which helped to protect young people. She added:
I would really like to watch how they implement it and see what are the challenges for them.
This week, the Indonesian government has forced ISPs to forcibly turn on content filters on search engines by default, which can't be switched off. The
new policy has seemingly been extended to Youtube as well, with many netizens now complaining that the video streaming site's restricted mode feature has been irreversibly switched on, limiting what they can watch.
Based on numerous social media posts, the Youtube restriction applies to users of certain ISPs, both on mobile internet and home internet. Netizens are reporting that even Taylor Swift and K-Pop music videos are being filtered out.
While the government did not say anything about Youtube being included in their recent censorship push, some ISPs like Indosat Ooredoo have been replying to complaints from customers about the Youtube restriction, placing the blame on the
government. The ISP tweeted:
Hi, Youtube's restricted mode is a government regulation designed to prevent the public from accessing pornography.
Malaysia's religious affairs minister has ordered portraits of LGBT activists to be removed
from an arts festival in Penang.
Portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik, who champion the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, were taken down on the orders of Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Dr Mujahid said promoting LGBT activities was not in line with the new Pakatan Harapan administration's policies. He told reporters at the Parliament lobby: I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures, along with the rainbow
pride flag, in a public gallery.
I contacted the state government to check if the claim is true, and I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.
Ms Nisha and Mr Pang's portraits were removed from the month-long Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival in Penang. They were portrayed holding the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia's flag, in prints captured by photographer Mooreyameen
The exhibition sponsor, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, criticised the decision:
How could this happen in Penang? I expected more from the Penang government. We should be enlightening people, changing their mindsets - not reacting to people who are close-minded.
A massively popular sci-fi drama in which the two lead characters are gay has been purged from one of China's top streaming platforms,
as part of the continuing Chinese government campaign to stamp out what it deems harmful and obscene content from the internet, according to a report published this weekend by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.
The move to censor the series Zhenhun , aka Guardian -- of China's most popular online shows with more than 1.8 billion views over its 40 episodes since it appeared on the Youku streaming service in early July.
The case of Guardian illustrates how sensitive China's censors can be when it comes to depictions of sexuality, and gay themes. The 40-part drama is based on a popular novel, written under a pseudonym, in which the two male protagonists are
clearly in a relationship. In the adaptation, according to the Morning Post , their relationship was instead presented as a bond of brotherhood in the hope of avoiding the censors.
But toning down the novel's gay themes still wasn't enough for China's censorship authorities. In order to pass the censors, the screenwriters turned this story into a science fiction drama for children, and it was still taken offline.
Christopher Robin is a 2018 USA children's musical by Marc Forster.
Starring Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor and Chris O'Dowd.
The Children's film Christopher Robin has been banned by Chinese film censors. No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China's crusade against images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is widely used as a mocking
representation of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media when bloggers drew comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country's censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last
Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi's sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.
Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights,
democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.
The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and
people familiar with the plans.
Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be
launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.
Google's current search engine is blocked in China.
It was announced in spring of this year that the Chinese media censorship body State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film,
and TV (SAPPRFT) was being replaced. Now a job recruitment advert has revealed a little more information about the restructuring
Most of SAPPRFT's duties -- and its domain name -- have moved to the newly formed SART (State Administration of Radio and TV), which posted the recruitment ad to their SAPPRFT website.
Film censorship duties will now fall to the Party's Publicity (Propaganda) Bureau ,
while the Cyberspace Administration of China seems to have become the major censor for online news and information.
SART's ad does not mention censorship specifically, and given the recent organizational changes, one can only guess at the purpose of the new hires, but this is what we know from the ad:
A research institute affiliated to SART is looking to fill three specialized applied research roles.
Internet of Things (IoT) and
cryptography (including blockchain) are the focus areas.
For Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, three years of constitutional challenges pale in comparison to the 43 years
imprisonment that were on the line. But after a legal battle active since 3 April 2015, Zunar's nine sedition charges were dropped on Monday 30 July 2018. With three days in court still to follow, the victory is one of several the artist is
seeking as an advocate for free expression and the repeal of the Sedition Act.
Under the newly (re-)elected PM Mahathir Mohamad things seem to be improving for freedom of expression. the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) has announced that it would review all ongoing sedition cases starting 13 July.
Ten LGBT-themed children's books have been banished to the closed sections of Hong Kong's public libraries after heavy campaigning by an anti-gay rights group.
For months, the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group complained to the Home Affairs Bureau about books that promote gay and transgender awareness.
In a Facebook post on 17 June, the group shared an email from the Bureau confirming 10 books would be removed from library shelves after consideration by the Collection Development Meeting that is made up of library professionals.
Library users must now ask staff to see the books. The email says the Collection Development Meeting decided seven of the 10 books were neutral and do not promote homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Yet they were still moved to the closed shelves
so parents can decide what their children read.