Questions For Serious Bloggers On Legal Rights

Now that a lot of well known Malaysian bloggers are more exposed to the general public. I think it’s about time we take things to the next level. For months now before all of this happened, I’ve written about the responsibility of a blogger towards the general public and what a personal blogger represents to him or herself. I’ve also written about privacy and the price of freedom that we bloggers have to face…all this before this issue became something to worry about.

Now it’s time for me to ask a question that I can’t really say on my own.

And I need your help to figure it out.

Edrei’s Questions To Serious Bloggers:

  1. Are we covered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Legal Guide to Blogging. If not could we ever be?
  2. Are we covered by the Creative Commons Licences and if not could we ever be?

After reading here and here. Now even though I am a biotechnologist and no nothing much about politics aside from my idealistic views on freedom and responsibility. I think that all this possibility of backlashes, blogging plagarism, going underground and possible self-censorships of a blogger and their post stems from the one simple fact that we cannot deny.

We have no rights.

At least none in black and white.

What’s the point of freedom of speech when you can only have the freedom to say good things? What’s the point of expressing ones individuality when someone can copy it off and use it for their own? What’s the point of going underground when a personal blogger originally chose to share their life out there with the rest of us?

Now being the person that I am, I like to propose something to the blogging masses. Why can’t we have a rule of law giving us the right to protect OURSELVES from such backlash? I know Malaysia can be a little shitty when it comes to laws and censorship and all that. All I’m asking is…

If we were to go about it…how would we make a law to protect ourselves?

I’m just doing what I do best. All I’m saying is that before bigger problems can come about, we should at least prepare ourselves for that possible if not eventual future. Even if we had the power to say anything at all within our own country, the freedom of speech means that anything can be said in both ways…which includes individuals and not the government suing our asses off for libel. But that’s a long time more to go.

Right here and right now is what I see and I see we need something to protect us. The future is for us to plan ahead and see that things we never want to see will never happen.

So…anyone have any ideas?

24 thoughts on “Questions For Serious Bloggers On Legal Rights

  1. It does worry me. Especially when more and more people who are not exposed to the freedom of expression idea are becoming aware of blogging. It’s a bit like a running train with no brakes. We are slowly gaining momentum. It would take just on blog post that tests the limit of a society’s tolerance and things could really get shaky from there on.

  2. Well…it’s time we installed the brakes on the train. We can’t seperate us from society because we ARE part of that society. It just isn’t fair that there isn’t any local laws for protecting our right to express things in our own way. What we need to know is…HOW do we advocate those rights?

  3. don’t the existing laws on internet usage apply to blogging? or is it because blogging isn’t exactly journalism, neither is it advertising? are we unprotected because we can’t be categorised?

  4. Ah, jaX beat me to it.

    Think about it; if even journalists are in constant danger of saying too much, what makes you think that they’re gonna give bloggers any rights? Even if something is passed, it’ll just be lip service.

    Plus, even you have to admit, a LOT bloggers out there are full of crap – potentially damaging crap when gossip gets mistaken for breaking news, simply because people seem to have a tendency of blindly believing what they read.

  5. Currently there are no laws in Malaysia for that kind of thing simply because we have no class of our own…at least that’s as far as I know.

    I don’t know much about how the laws apply and why they do that’s why I want people who do know to at least give me a buzz about it so I can understand.

    But one thing I do know is that the net is supposed to be borderless. How can laws that govern local journalist apply to a medium that can be dissemnated worldwide? If such a law exists then by all means bloggers do have a certain right of freedom of speech without worrying about certain instituitonal backlashes.

    Then again, Priya like you mentioned, there isn’t much responsibility in what a lot local bloggers tend to be writting. Which can cause a lot of problems as well. But first thing first. Have a law that says we have a right to the freedom of speech and we’ll deal with our own bad kind along the way.

  6. sorry, i know i said i would go away…but.

    as you already know, the answer to the two questions posed to serious bloggers is no, from a legal point of view.

    freedom of speech is one of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I believe that Malaysia is a signatory to that. In any event, Article 10(2) and 10 (4) and Article 149 of the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression, subject to certain restriction for reasons of national security, friendly relations with other countries, public order, morality or the protection of the privileges of Parliament

    therefore, freedom of speech is always subject to restrictions posed by obscenity, national security and defamation laws.

    from a legal framework standpoint, the Constitution (with regards to Malaysia) and the UDHR (for the world in general) gives us the base point to start blogging. but like it or not, those restrictions will always act to limit such freedom. it is necessary, however flawed, for the purposes of ensuring that the playing field is ORDERLY at the very least and in general.

    as for your query re laws applying to a “medium that can be disemminated worldwide”, well, that’s just how data protection and defamation laws have to work so that they aren’t toothless tigers.

    hope that helps.

  7. Bob: Alright then, then if hypothetically…IF say a law were to be founded that would ensure that bloggers HAVE rights?

    What do we need to change for it to come into effect? The specific laws that we need to bypass and the other requirements that stand in the way of such a law?

  8. your base right is already there, freedom of speech. but because we live in a world generally ruled by Order, this freedom cannot be without limits.

    what you are asking for is that bloggers be guaranteed protection from libel/defamation and obscenity laws. that goes against all the fundamental principles of regulations and the civil contract. with freedoms/rights, come responsibility (sorry that sounds so cliche, but all cliches have a basis of truth).

    to stretch the rationale, take pornography. it exists online largely on the basis of freedom of speech/information. but various sites, depending on the degree of acceptability of what’s offered, will offend different jurisidictions, depending on the obscenity laws of each jurisdiction. most ppl agree that there’s nothing wrong with general adult based pornography but balk at child pornography (quite rightly). a child pornographer is likely to voice the same objections as you are doing now…”what’s there to protect my right to show pictures of kids being abused by adults?”.

    the wrongs that you and many proponents of freedom of speech are railing against, is not Law itself, but the people in control of how Law is used. ideally, that should be the legislature/parliament, but usually and in reality that power lies with government.

  9. That’s not really the answer to the question. Put aside the “why” in this for a moment. Put aside the belief that we have that “freedom” base there for a moment. Think objectively.

    What would it take to implement the law in black and white the first place?

  10. sweetheart, you might want to have a think about condescension in context of an ego-free discourse. it’s not going to get you anywhere in having your questions taken seriously.

    but sure, let’s answer your questions on your terms then.

    1. What do we need to change for it to come into effect?
    You would need to have a powerful lobby group who can mount a credible justification for why free speech should be limitless. You would need to change the established mindset of legislators that instead of having a base right for ideal, general applicablilty and then setting limits to cater to reality. You would need for every single person on earth to be good, principled and rational. This is why JS Mill’s philosophy that as long as you consider that nobody is harmed, you can do what you like, as ideal as it is, remains as an ideal.

    2. The specific laws that we need to bypass and the other requirements that stand in the way of such a law?

    Obscenity, defamation/libel, any other legislation that enforces the Social Contract against the individual. Requirements that stand in the way? Umm…this doesnt even make sense, but i shall hazard a guess as to what you’re saying. The impediments to getting such a law (ie that bloggers have absolute freedom of speech) is good sense.

    3. What would it take to implement the law in black and white the first place?
    Like i said, a damn good lobby group and a suspension of good sense and sound legal theory. Apart from the dreary stuff of drawing up a draft bill, proposing and arguing it.

    As much as I am legally trained, I don’t profess to have the qualifications to answer your questions to your satisfaction. I actually thought you were interested in general discourse. You might want to consider that nobody has yet to give you as much of their time.

  11. oh and i forgot to emphasise that it’s not the laws, but the manner in which they are enforced that is the real problem. Malaysia’s ISA is the best example i can think of.

    national security is a legitimate concern. it’s how the ISA is abused and used in a different context that gets everyone, quite rightly, into a buzz.

  12. Bob: That’s what I want in the first place. Someone who has the legal qualification to have the answer in the first place. Which is why I’m looking for people who routinely talk about stuff like this like Mack or Jeff Ooi to probably point me in the right direction. Right now, the post is to propose the how not the why of the situation. Any such codesending remark is purely subjective in its meaning, all I want to understand is that particular “dreary stuff” and how technical we have to be knee deep in to make it work.

    It’s pretty sad that no one gives a damn. As much as I would hazzard the possibility that in two months, the majority of the public wouldn’t give a hoot about our local blogging community. It would be wise to consider trying to implement such rights to the online community.

  13. first time commenting here, was going to keep silent, since i would not like to offend anyone, nor YOUR right to free speech, but hey, based on your stand, i have rights too?

    anyway, this is my observation: perhaps why not many people are commenting is because (1) they don’t know the answer (2) you DO realise it is purely rhetorical, don’t you, and no country, no matter how liberal, is going to allow a total freedom of speech? the “why” cannot be separated from the “how” when part of the “how” process is a justification of WHY the change is required.

    i have lots more to say, but i think i’ll stop ruffling feathers now and get on with my lunch…

    if this sounded condescending, it was intentionally written that way. freedom of speech, you say?!

  14. Anna: Part of the reason why I don’t like to consider the why right now is simple this. For too long now people in Malaysia always think of the why this and why that without actually doing something about it. We know our system is more bottlenecked than other countries that do allow freedom of speech. Cutting through all that and just going for the how to do it is much faster. I don’t like to waste another 5 years debating on whether rights should be there or not. Set a goal and go to it. Stop prostituiting intellect and find a way to get it done. So yeah…if you want to be someone who likes to spend time wondering why things are the way they are…I can’t stop you. You want to see the end result of things…just do it.

  15. ah my dear anna. the voice of reason can’t penetrate the thick-headedness of one who is so self-absorbed and so-into-oneself. t’s no point in trying to exchange ideas with one who thinks big words and seemingly (but is not) witty catchphrases amount to intellect.

    i tried to do so, despite our earlier exchange in the post that stoked his ego, but my words were pooh-poohed. what to do, we are not Mack nor Jeff Ooi (who have yet to have made an appearance here by the way).

    hmm..just do it? havent seen you ask Mack and Jeff directly on THEIR blogs. Just do it? haven’t seen you come up with clear simple (yes i’ve read your confusing overwinded posts) steps towards establishing absolute freedom of speech.

    it’s good to question, the way you do. problem is, you only want certain people to answer you and to answer you in the way you want. and you wonder why people don’t comment.

  16. Bob: From every way you have been saying things, it’s just quite obvious that you fail to perceive things the way it’s supposed to be and would rather attack the person himself. And yeah, I have been talking to Mack about this recently anyway and it’s been pretty good to know things I don’t know. It’s about the way the matter is discussed and not about what answer I would like. It’s just unfortunate that people like you seem all self-righteous and judgemental about a person rather than the matter would ironically spend time talking here. Now who’s the more self-absorbed person here? I feel sorry for you.

  17. ah, i can now understand bob’s fascination with this site. lesser minds are intriguing!

    i see you fail to see, despite being informed, that the why is an IMPORTANT PART of the how process – the PROCESS you asked about. [oh, and btw, i am legally trained too]

    since you asked, here’s a step-by-step of the how, in simple terms as applicable in malaysia (would not want to be prostituting the intellect any more than i already have, would i?!) :- (1) get a large number of pple worked up (2) see your wakil rakyat (3) pay… **self-censored in interests of continued citizenship** (4) get your large influential interest /lobby group (5) **censored as before** (6) get bill drafted (7) **censored as before** (8) get bill passed by dewan rakyat (9) get bill passed by dewan negara (10) **censored as before** (11) get bill declared law (12) exercise your rights (13) get charged under ISA.

    oh, and btw, the why would be relevant at stages (1), (2), (4), (6), (8), (9), (11), unless you have enough of (3), (5), (7) and (10).

    there you go.. now get us the change! just do it!

  18. sweetcheeks, thanks for the pity, i’ll put it in my mirror on the wall. yahoo.

    you might want to take a look at my first comment on this post. for that matter, also the second one. since you are a proponent of thinking objectively, please point out where i attack you. then you respond by telling me to think objectively. wah. impressed.

    my darling boy, you invite the criticisms you get by..well, being who you are.

  19. oh and btw, if i wasn’t talking about the matter rather than you, you fascinating god, pray tell, what were my answers to ALL your questions? you may cut and paste.

    further, i do have plenty of time and i do so love being petty for the sake of it. it’s fun!

  20. oh and this was your reply to priya btw (doncha just love cut n paste)

    I don’t know much about how the laws apply and WHY they do that’s why I want people who do know to at least give me a buzz about it so I can understand. (emphasis added by me!)

    I genuinely wanted to help you understand. Manalah tau, you wanted only SERIOUS bloggers like Mack and Jeff to respond.

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