Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian civil society groups and alternative media Tuesday launched an "internet blackout" to protest changes in a law that they said threatens freedom of expression.
The one-day protest, spearheaded by the Centre of Independent Journalism, called for the repeal of an amendment to the Evidence Act that would make web hosts, bloggers or ordinary internet users liable for any defamatory web content sent or published on their sites.
A black screen replaced the opening pages of dozens of websites.It shows a cartoon character in handcuffs after being accused of posting defamatory content online. Some sites were non-operational as part of the protest.
The centre said the amendment "makes individuals and those who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums,blogging and hosting services, liable for content published through its services." "This presumption of guilt goes against a fundamental principle of justice - innocent until proven guilty - and disproportionately burdens the average person who may not have the resources to defend himself in court," it said.
The amendment took effect July 31 and was perceived by activists as an attempt by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government to curtail internet freedom.//DPA