Medium Stands Up To Malaysia's Attempt To Take Down Investigative Reporting; Gets Entire Site Blocked In Malaysia

from the censorship-again dept

We've seen an increasing effort by governments around the globe to censor content they don't like. This takes many different forms, but one fairly typical one is for governments to send official looking documents to websites and webhosts demanding that certain content be taken down. Many smaller companies, often with no official policy in place on how to handle such requests, will cave and just take the content down to avoid the hassle. However, recently we've seen a growing number of sites reject such requests, unless they're accompanied by a valid court order. The latest is Medium, the increasingly popular content publishing platform.

In this case, the issue involves the government of Malaysia and the investigative journalism site Sarawak Report, which has been writing a bunch of stories, many based on apparently leaked documents, exposing corruption in Malaysia. Last summer, the website was blocked in Malaysia after a series of reports related to claims of $700 million magically appearing in the Malaysian Prime Minister's personal bank account. After having its own website blocked, Sarawak also started republishing all its articles on Medium.
That was last October. Apparently last week, Medium received an email from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) demanding that one of the Sarawak stories be removed:
Of course, as you hopefully already know, one of the clearest signs of censorious thuggery is to claim that an article is "false" or defamatory in some way without ever getting into the specifics of what is false. Medium, quite rightly, responded to the MCMC by asking for more detailed evidence, showing (1) what specific statements are untrue and (2) any official judicial findings about the story.
The company received no response -- but late last week discovered that all of Medium is now blocked in Malaysia. If that's meant to intimidate the company into taking down the article, it's not working:
Medium’s in no position to evaluate the truth of the Sarawak Report’s Medium post. We’ve received no evidence that the post violates any of our Rules, or any law. We stand by investigative journalists who publish on Medium. Until we receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction, the post stays up.
Kudos to Medium for taking such a stand.

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  • identicon
    One acronym, 27 Jan 2016 @ 1:05pm

    VPN

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2016 @ 1:37pm

    this is the sort of thing that happens when countries start to back dictatorial governments, regardless of which ones, be them in Asia or Europe or America! the USA, the UK and others have done whatever they can to stifle free speech and the law out of the EU, the 'Right to be Forgotten' has contributed towards this. as soon as something is on the 'net, asses start twitching in case the next thing (worse) gets published! the way governments are handling these issues is disgraceful! the way people are being penalised for using free speech, just because a government doesn't like it leads to the next thing to be censored. eventually, we end up in the position of countries as they were before WWII and how some countries are now!! and it's all because people do bad things when in government of in positions of power or wealth and cant bear anyone knowing the truth of what fucking plums they made of themselves!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    leman28, 28 Jan 2016 @ 1:16am

    Hey, are you a Malaysian company? Are you subject to Malaysian financial disclosures? Police raids?

    Then why fret? Keep on publishing!

    But remember,it is also the Malaysian government's ( de facto ) right if it wishes to keep on blocking your site in Malaysia.

    You have your rights, as does the Malaysian government, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 12:45pm

      Re:

      You have your rights, as does the Malaysian government, no?

      No. How is the world made a better place by acknowledging governments have rights? They don't need them, for one thing. If they really dislike something, there's lots of things they can do about it.

      Imagine a gov't losing an election or confidence vote then taking that as a personal attack. That doesn't get anyone but tyrants anywhere. They should be forced to defend themselves. They don't need rights.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Jan 2016 @ 4:58am

    If anything, this shows how deeply entrenched into the Malaysian government corruption is. They can shut down content at will, with no oversight or due process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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