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Malaysian Cyber Cafe Owners Liable For Patron Behavior 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the killing-an-industry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Malaysia's new internet law maybe simply the toughest on the planet. According to the new law which was amended because of protesters the originators of content are those who own, administer, and/or edit websites, blogs, and online forums. This means that a blogger or forum moderator who allows nasty comments against the government on their site can be held liable. An internet café manager is accountable if one of his or her customers sends illegal content online through the store's WiFi. A mobile phone user is the perpetrator if defamatory content is traced back to his or her electronic device. Critics of the new law contend also that a person is considered guilty until proven innocent."
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Malaysian Cyber Cafe Owners Liable For Patron Behavior

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  • by dryriver (1010635) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:08PM (#41171355)
    One of many backward countries around the world that don't see any benefit in having a free internet. Sad but true...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:18PM (#41171475)

      One of many backward countries around the world that don't see any benefit in having a free internet. Sad but true...

      Well, what did you expect from a predominantly Muslim country? Progressive politics?

      Seriously, these people are being told that god expected them to live in the stone age, and they accept that.

      I can't see how anything else could have happened there.

      • I know it's cynical, but right now, the US gov't has begun creating a treaty with Malaysia, the requires the two countries harmonize their IP laws, so that whichever country has the stricter law in a specific area, the other must match or exceed it.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        US threaten internet freedom = Corrupted idiot politician/leader
        China threaten internet freedom = Corrupted idiot politician/leader
        European country threaten internet freedom = Corrupted idiot politician/leader
        Arab country threaten internet freedom = Muslim
        Malaysia threaten internet freedom = Muslim

        nice logic you got there
      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @02:25AM (#41175727) Journal

        Well, what did you expect from a predominantly Muslim country? Progressive politics?

        Perhaps you should go to Malaysia some day. It's improving fast, has some of the best roads and infrastructure in the region as well as high levels of education. Food prices are kept low, and so is fuel and electricity, so most people have at least an opportunity to live well.

        Nor is it uniformly Islamic. Even on the east coast, where the religion dominates, it's still easy enough to do as you choose, and in places like Penang, it's barely visible.

        Most of this stuff is posturing, and has less affect on real people than idiocy like the *IAA pogroms being run out of the US.

      • by petman (619526)
        How the hell did this post get modded insightful? The current Malaysian federal government is made up of secular racially-based political parties. The sole Islamist political party is part of the Federal opposition and is opposing the new law.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      What the hell is it with Malasians? Have you ever been to an IRC network with a #kampung? WTF?

    • by milkmage (795746)

      can you imagine how fucked up shit would be if Malaysia was in Australia (I know, I know)

      but the Aussies have some fucked up ideas about the internet too
      http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/08/06/0221216/australian-agency-rules-facebook-pages-responsible-for-comments [slashdot.org]

  • What is the point of this kind of shit? Money? The richest countries in the world tend to be the freest. Power? Over what? You are the government, you already have a monopoly on legal force and coercion. The only thing this is going to do is get a lot of people sent to jail that didn't do shit. It makes no sense.
    • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:14PM (#41171421)

      What is the point of this kind of shit? Money? The richest countries in the world tend to be the freest. Power? Over what? You are the government, you already have a monopoly on legal force and coercion. The only thing this is going to do is get a lot of people sent to jail that didn't do shit. It makes no sense.

      Think about all the silly laws we have that create an air of uncertainty about the law and opportunities for a timely arrest or fine. It really pisses off the police when they want to slap the bracelets on someone, but there isn't a handy law available that many people break with regularity.

      So this makes it easy to imprison anyone running a cyber cafe whenever they want, because chances are that someone posted something illegal in their cafe in the week or two prior.

      Or its just to put a chill into people who feel relatively anonymous at a cyber cafe.

      The really funny part of this is that in order to remain in compliance, the owner would have to monitor every user or all of their traffic and neither of those is feasible. Thats what I'm sure most are looking for, a cyber cafe reading all the data packets, including breaking encryption, looking for someone bad mouthing a politician. Then they'll be safe...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Imho all states have the same problem. They try to force an ideological viewpoint onto reality, which obviously never works, forces people into a destructive spiral and ...

        In America, the cracks are limited (though of course, viewed in this light national health care is very bad indeed, so the argument could be made it's getting worse), and Americans live in an environment that most other countries would see as "the law of the jungle", and America is not yet completely out of touch with reality.

        In malaysia,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What if governments realize that the most productive countries are the one's with the highest incarceration rates. They are just doing what they see as a way to catch up to the other productive countries.
    • by tnk1 (899206)

      If North Korea shows one thing, you don't have to have the richest country in the world to be stinking rich yourself. The only thing that being a rich country gets you is, *maybe* a happier population, and perhaps the ability to avoid foreign intervention via a modern and well funded military and economy.

      However, if you can convince your population to not rebel in other ways, and you live in a world where a superpower is willing to go to war to keep your shitty system from being challenged externally, then

      • by oakgrove (845019)

        A free internet would be an impediment to your control of the population in that case, not an advantage.

        Conceptually I unfortunately get that some people just want to dominate and oppress. But, and I may be thinking too highly of myself here, I'd like to believe that if I was the "supreme dictator" somewhere that my country would be awesome. As long as nobody was physically hurting anybody else or perpetrating some fraudulent scheme I'd just let them do whatever they want. "Soft" drugs? Legal. Prostitution? Legal. Want to talk shit about the government? Go ahead, I'll take it as constructive criticism.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Unfortunately, without some element of thought control, propaganda, speech-stifling, etc., someone corrupt, power-hungry, and sufficiently powerful will turn the people against you by using thought control and propaganda.

          This is why there are no leaders like you speak of.

        • Re:I don't get it... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:44PM (#41171797) Homepage Journal

          I just think my country would be great and I don't understand why none of the small-time dictators, not even once, have seen it my way.

          They have, precisely once. [wikipedia.org]

          • I don't know much about the subject, but that link doesn't really seem to back what you're saying. It doesn't mention anything about his stance on crime, or censorship, or anonymity. The closest I could find was: "While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian,[6][7][8] due to his successful economic and diplomatic policies, Tito was seen by most as a benevolent dictator,[9] and was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad." which doesn't seem to describe the anarchic utopia the GP w

            • Yea, it's a horrifically sparse article, doesn't do Tito justice.

              I did some research on the guy several years ago for a school paper, and the one fact that stuck out to me is how he dealt with officials convicted of corruption: They would march the felonious cad out of the courtroom, into the street below, and promptly execute them in front of the waiting audience.

              Needless to say, political corruption wasn't too common under Josip Tito's rule.

              doesn't seem to describe the anarchic utopia the GP was describing.

              If you think what they were describing qualifies as 'anarch

              • While "anarchic" might not be an entirely accurate description of the GPs post (he did, after all, say he'd be forbidding violence and fraud), it's certainly a lot closer than what you seem to think he means:

                As long as nobody was physically hurting anybody else or perpetrating some fraudulent scheme I'd just let them do whatever they want. "Soft" drugs? Legal. Prostitution? Legal. Want to talk shit about the government? Go ahead, I'll take it as constructive criticism. Anonymity would not only be legal, it would be encouraged. Hell, I'd use Bitcoin as the national currency if I could make it work.

                the one fact that stuck out to me is how he dealt with officials convicted of corruption: They would march the felonious cad out of the courtroom, into the street below, and promptly execute them in front of the waiting audience.

                So you think when the GP said "I'd just let them do whatever they want" he forgot to add "and then execute them publicly" on the end of it? The virtue of Tito's rather abrupt justice would be largely dependant on how accurate those convictions for corruption were, and if they were prosecuted uniformly.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Conceptually I unfortunately get that some people just want to dominate and oppress. But, and I may be thinking too highly of myself here, I'd like to believe that if I was the "supreme dictator" somewhere that my country would be awesome.

          Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

          History has surprisingly few benevolent dictators, unfortunately.

        • Maybe you're making the mistaken assumption that dictators are sane.

        • by Larryish (1215510)

          What happens when a company that provides a service considered "necessary" gains overwhelming control of a market?

    • by jrumney (197329)

      The only thing this is going to do is get a lot of people sent to jail that didn't do shit.

      Don't Panic. The government will be selective, only a few people will go to jail.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Its called a chilling effect [wikipedia.org] and is designed to make everyone too damned scared to say shit about those in power. If you don't think it can happen here I urge you to watch this video [youtube.com] by author Naomi Wolf pointing out how many of the moves those in power have done in the past decade are right out of the playbooks of repressive countries. As she notes in the video she herself is now on the watchlist, her crime? Speaking out about the constitution and the rights we have.
  • Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:15PM (#41171439)

    How is it that the owner of an internet cafe is responsible for what a user posts, but the cell phone company isn't responsible for subversive use of a mobile phone? This law sounds so knee jerk I'm surprised they didn't dislocate several bones.

    • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swb (14022) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:18PM (#41171471)

      The cell phone company is a government monopoly and/or owned by members of the ruling class. Of course they are exempt.

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      They want to be sure they have someone to punish or even just intimidate business owners for providing Internet access. With the cell phone company, the individual user is already tracked by device - unique IP tied to time of day tied to paid account. In this case, they see that Internet cafes have become havens for these types of dissenters to post with impunity.

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      This is completely different. The government can go to the phone company and ask them who was using the IP 1.2.3.4 at 8:40PM on friday. Hence, the phone company can default its responsability on the person responsible.

      I doubt the cyber cafe owner can say who was using which PC at any given time. And even if (s)he did, they all share the same IP and likely the same user agent so there really isn't a way for the government to get to the poster.

      Remember that free doesn't necessarily mean anonymous.

    • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:37PM (#41171711)

      Making owners of internet choke points responsible for censorship is a very effective proposition for a government that wants maximum effectiveness with minimum resource utilization. If someone used your computers to cause a problem, the government doesn't need to identify that person, all they need to do is come get you if your cafe allowed that on to the internet. That or you can preemptively filter, monitor and control content for the government on your own dime.

      Remember, there are only political/economic reasons to not hold an owner of a cafe responsible. In reality, the banned content is on the owner's computers and being sent from his networks and it is there because he allowed someone to put it there in return for money. If it was a gun of his that was used to shoot someone, I don't think even we would argue that a gun shop owner who failed to do a proper background check could escape liability.

      It's not a very business friendly proposition, and will probably have a serious chilling effect on internet cafes, but if the government cares more about tight control than it does about profits of these businesses, they have just managed to recruit some free and very effective censorship agents.

      • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by oakgrove (845019) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:51PM (#41171865)

        Making owners of internet choke points responsible for censorship is a very effective proposition for a government that wants maximum effectiveness with minimum resource utilization. If someone used your computers to cause a problem, the government doesn't need to identify that person, all they need to do is come get you if your cafe allowed that on to the internet. That or you can preemptively filter, monitor and control content for the government on your own dime.

        Provided it was legal, if I owned an internet cafe in Malaysia I'd just pay for access to an out of the country proxy service and point the router at it. Put Firefox on all of the computers with the "https anywhere" extension and put some kind of macro program on the computers that automatically rewrites any establishment identifying information like IP address, street address or whatever so hapless users don't accidentally give up their identity despite the encryption. I don't know how well tor works in Malaysia but that could be an option too.

        I'm not saying my plan is fool-proof as it's just off the top of my head but I wouldn't take this law lying down if I didn't have to.

        • by tnk1 (899206)

          Obviously, depending on the law, you could get away with that. Of course, many countries do outlaw things like TOR, so you can be sure that cafe owners in those countries may be very picky about what you can do on their machines, up to and including only letting you run programs that they have installed.

          Point being, it's pretty easy to control internet access as long as you rely on a few intermediaries. That's why the Internet in certain areas will always be imperiled while it has to make use of infrastru

  • Legislation of this type is a measure of how easy the political process is to buy in a nation.

    Congrats to Malaysia on being number one.

  • I am glad I do not own an internet cafe in Malaysia!!!
    Well, that's what you get with a federal constitutional elective monarchy, or whatever they want to call it.

    • I am glad I do not own an internet cafe in Malaysia!!!

      So am I. In my case, I'd have closed the doors permanently the moment the law went into effect. Then I'd have sold what was left to whoever was foolish enough to want it and gone into a different line of work.
    • First they came for the Malaysian Internet Café owners,
      and I did not speak out because I was not a Malaysian Internet Café owner...

      ...

      Then they came for the Anonymous Cowards,
      and I did not speak out because I was not an Anonymous Coward.

      Then they came for the posters with Seven digit UIDs,
      and I did not speak out because I did not have a Seven digit UID.

      Then they came for me,
      but everyone only posted responses such as this.

      Then they came for you,
      and the issue was TL and everyone DR.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every Malaysian should blog under the pseudonym of the PM of Malaysia.
    He would then be guilty until proven otherwise.

  • by ChumpusRex2003 (726306) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:29PM (#41171599)

    It's not much different in a number of other countries, notably the UK.

    If a crime is committed over your internet connection, you are liable - unless you can provide proof of identity of the perpetrator. For a commercial ISP, this isn't too hard - they can tie a communication to an account, and the name of the account holder is good enough.

    If you are offering wi-fi as part of a business (e.g. a coffee shop), then unless you keep some form of record of customer IDs, which allow you to match a communication to a customer, then you are on shaky ground. A common business practice is to outsource Wi-fi provision to an ISP, where the customer has to provide their account credentials for that ISP, or otherwise provide some evidence of their identity (e.g. by providing valid credit card details, or less invasively, by sending an SMS containing an activation code to a phone number provided by the customer).

    An alternative, and increasingly common is to heavily filter wifi traffic - it's increasingly common to see free wifi locked down like a corporate network with all manner of block lists, and increasingly more so blocked ports (I've come across a few public wifi services where only ports 80 and 443 are available - every other port is blocked - such networks severely disturb smartphones, as it breaks their e-mail, iMessage/facetime, etc. connectivity).

  • A cell phone carrier is somehow NOT liable or subject to the same punishments if a user of their 3G cell services posts defamatory content via their mobile browser.

  • Isnt this an affront to privacy?
  • by jjp9999 (2180664) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:34PM (#41171685) Homepage
    It will be interesting to see what effects this has. I'd imagine that at least a few people will avoid having connections at all, given the risks. I could also see people hacking other people's WiFi networks, or trying to frame people by posting things through their connections.
    • ...or trying to frame people by posting things through their connections.

      What's interesting is that in the context of this law, that wouldn't strictly be framing. That would ACTUALLY make the target victim 100% guilty of the "crime".

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Or a sharp rise in the number of tor and Freenet users in that part of the world.
  • Is the internet cafe manager is liable for messages sent by a customer, then the phone company is liable for such messages sent from a mobile phone?

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      There used to be something called "common carrier status" at least in the US. These days, I have no idea.

  • by Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:45PM (#41171807) Journal
    ...Germany. Seriously. There's a particular term in German Legalese, "Mitstörerhaftung" (don't expect me to translate that) which in simple words means: if it's tracked back to your account or found on your site, you're held liable. This applies to open (or not "decently" secure) access points, internet forums, blogs and frequently leads to website owners being sued and -of course- to any account found to be guilty of file-sharing. Any effort to get rid of this anachronism (said jurisdiction is mostly a relic from the analog age) has proven to be in vain: there's way too much easy cash for way too many lawyers in it and our parliament (as pretty much any parliament in the western world) consists mostly from lawyers...
    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Co-disturber-liability?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      --> PIRATEN. Just talked to the Piraten Partei and have them include it in their reforms.

    • by Sigg3.net (886486)

      I listened to the same CCC podcast (granted, my German is shaky) but I got the notion that this law is a remnant of property law pre internet.

      It's the same thinking that you need to secure dangerous holes in the publicly accessible pavements/sidewalks/ roads? on your property.

        Thus, the law was not intended to police open Wi-Fi networks and should be relatively easy to change. Try changing the same law that intends to do harm...

      Laws are not made in a vacuum.

  • Sounds like a great way to punish someone/business that you don't like. Just connect to their wi-fi and start posting.
  • I don't know about you, but if I was a small business owner in Malaysia, the first thing I do would be shut down any internet service such as free wifi.
    So businesses that revolves around the net, such as cyber cafes, better install a damn good filter or anonymizer or some such.
  • My understanding from this is that if I break into someone's wifi, or "borrow" someone's mobile phone, and perform some kind of illegal transaction, the owner of that access point or device is liable? Besides being a great way to avoid legal consequences, it occurs to me that this could be used as a weapon against anyone who owns a wireless device or any company that maintains a wireless network.

    Oh, this is too good not to use in a movie. I want to see; perp picks bystander's pocket, makes illegal call, p

  • Malaysia's new internet law maybe simply

    No - "may simply be", or just "may be". The "simply" is gratuitous.

    The next bit needs some more punctuation to make it easier to read:

    According to the new law - which was amended because of protesters - the originators of content are those who own, administer, and/or edit websites, blogs, and online forums.

    Not to mention the fact that there's nothing about protestors in the article, so that bit seems to have been slipped in by the submitter.

    This means that a blogger or forum moderator who allows nasty comments against the government on their site can be held liable. An internet café manager is accountable if one of his or her customers sends illegal content online through the store's WiFi.

    These two sentences seem a bit non-sequitur to me - on reading the article it turns out that the summary has missed out the fact that the internet cafe liability bit is down to a different (part of the?) amendment.

    Critics of the new law contend also that a person is considered guilty until proven innocent.

    This is ambiguous - do the

  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:15PM (#41172143)
    Every cyber cafe and ISP in the country simply stopped operating rather than risk being arrested and presumed guilty for someone else's expression. They wouldn't inform their customers because that could be considered criticism of the government. So everyone's access just suddenly ended. Be careful what you ask for!!!!
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:56PM (#41172577)
    I don't understand why "presumed guilty" is a problem. We do it every day, and nobody cares. If you were truly presumed innocent, the cops wouldn't beat you before taking you into custody. They wouldn't fingerprint you when they booked you if they didn't presume you guilty. No, you are presumed guilty for all purposes, so long as you are not standing in front of a jury. And that's how the system is "supposed to" work. You are presumed innocent in court, and the prosecutor must prove guilt. But for arrest, booking, charging, you are presumed guilty. That's how it is, and has always been in the US.

    So I always get confused when people talk about it in that manner, especially Americans getting on the high horse about other countries and their rules. The US is worse. Just having cash on you gets you presumed guilty of drug crime, and your money taken unless (and sometimes even if) proven innocent.
  • To kill off cybercafes and free wifi. ( oh, and anonymity of its citizens who want to protest their government )

  • I'm from Germany, and the same situation is seen here as well.

    It's called "Störerhaftung", roughly translated as "liability for disturbance" according to LEO dictionary. You are responsible for the stuff posted over your connection, if you didn't take adequate precautions to prohibit it. Hamburg's court is famous to cater for all who seek vengeance in online space, and can usually be called upon.

  • .. It's Malaysia.
  • So how long until some clever guy with a cantenna gets a high-ranking government official in hot water from this law?
  • 1) US maintains a list of blacklisted countries accused of facilitating online piracy by not implementing surveillance and copyright enforcement.
    Malaysia just promised to comply and thus got off the list. The OP topic may be a result of this.
    http://www.zdnet.com/malaysia-dropped-from-us-piracy-watch-list-2062304676/ [zdnet.com]

    2) Malaysia's biggest ISP TM introduced for it's "fastest" internet service UNIFI (a max. 20MBit SDSL connection) blocking of port 6667. This started some weeks ago (August/2012). No offici
  • Laid-back, easy-going tropical island living goes out the window, once - like rats off a ship - religion shows up.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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