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Website proselytizing Christianity blocked by Malaysian Government

Scope of websites blocked under unspecified section of Communications and Multimedia Act (233) has now widened to include blocking websites proselytizing Christianity

Details

Website Answering Islam with content proselytizing Christianity has now been added to official list of blocked websites by Malaysian government.

Test data from the Open Observatory for Network Interference (OONI) has revealed that the site started being blocked via DNS tampering from Dec 1, 2016. Sinar Project deploys probes developed by OONI network that runs a series of tests for network interference by local ISPs in accessing a global and local test list that covers a broad range of categories such as news, blogs, entertainment, pornography, gambling, religious and LGBT sites.

 

Answering Islam website

Network interference detected by OONI probes

Malaysians trying to access the website will be redirected to an page with official notice that the site has been blocked due to violation of National Laws. A link for additional information states that the site has been denied under Communications and Multimedia Act 263(2) for unspecified violation of the section 233 of the same act. Section 263(2) authorizes MCMC to request ISPs to reasonably try to block websites to prevent a legal offense.

Answering IslamAnswering Islam

Section 263(2) A licensee shall, upon written request by the Commissionor 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.

Section 233 covers any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person via network facilities or services. Article19 a civil society organization that advocates for freedom of expression has called on the Malaysian government to revise this act to comply with international laws and standards. ARTICLE 19 is particularly concerned that Section 233 of the CMA, which deals with “improper use of network facilities or network service” has been used time and again to target human rights defenders in the country.

233. (1) A person who— 
(a) by means of any network facilities or network service or
applications service knowingly—
(i) makes, creates or solicits; and
(ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person; or Communications and Multimedia 119
(b) initiates a communication using any applications service, whether continuously, repeatedly or otherwise, during which communication may or may not ensue, with or without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at any number or  electronic address,
commits an offence.
(2) A person who knowingly—
(a) by means of a network service or applications service provides any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person; or 
(b) permits a network service or applications service under the person’s control to be used for an activity described in paragraph (a), commits an offence.
(3) A person who commits an offence under this section shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both and shall also be liable to a further fine of one thousand ringgit for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction

The application of CMA233 for religious expression on the Internet now raises concerns on possible future blocking of religious websites and content affecting freedom of religion and expression online.

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We run a limited test list to monitor censorship. If you know of a website that may be at risk of being blocked to be added to our monitoring list such as websites that deal with religion, political expression or LGBT content do contact us at [email protected] or tag us @sinarproject on Twitter with the website url.

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