16 April, 2007

Reining in on bloggers?

LOCAL bloggers have said “no” to any move to regulate blog sites. But at the same time they have called on their fellow bloggers to be more responsible with their postings and know the limits.

Blogger Ermira Faridah Mohd Said said banning blog sites is not the answer to curb improper content on the Internet.

From NST,Computimes :

“People should be given the freedom to express their feelings on the Internet, provided they also must know the limits as to not talk about inappropriate or seditious matters or posting negative pictures.”
She noted that out of the thousands of blogs out there, only a very small percentage talk about “bad” stuff; the rest are more of “diary-like entries”.

According to Ermira, it would be better for a blog owner to be more responsible in vetting the content before posting them, rather than risk a ban.

She said the concept of self-censorship by bloggers is a good move, but the subject of censorship is very subjective to each individual. Related parties such as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission should come up with a general guideline on such censorship for people to follow, she suggested.
As for controlling blog sites with legislation such as defamation laws, Ermira said the Government can do that so bloggers know that there are laws that govern their activities.
“They should not worry if they are posting non-seditious material.”

Another blogger, Gerald Chuah, said while everyone has the right to communicate and freedom of expression, the keyword here is not to abuse this right. “If the blog is used for hate mail and malicious gossips, then it can be a very damaging tool, and I think the powers that be have a right to ban it. I heard once from another blogger who put it correctly when he said that unlike a journal where you record your personal thoughts and ideas for yourself, a blog is different because when you publish it to the world you can be held accountable for what you say. So, it goes back to responsible writing and journalism.

“Also, we should consider who the blog is targeted at and who you are writing for. I haven’t come across a negative blog, and if I do I will shun it, unless it has some critical information that I must know.”

Chuah also said it is better for the blog owner to be responsible in vetting their blog. “If everybody does their job, there would be no problem. But the question here is about abuse. And the offender takes no thought of being responsible. That’s how it started.”
Chuah pointed out that controlling blog sites with legislation instead is possible because it tells people to be more responsible for what they say, otherwise people can talk nonsense and get away with it.

The legal fraternity noted that legal action against blog owners does not infringe on freedom of speech and information in the country. Such a move instead will help make sure that bloggers are more responsible for the content of their blogs to prevent negative implications to any individual, organisation or country.

Meanwhile, blogger Siti Rosman said bloggers should take responsibility for what they publish for public viewing. That said, it is also just as important that people who leave comments on other people’s blogs to be responsible and provide their real identity instead of signing off as “Anonymous”.

“There are a number of blogs out there that discuss dangerous topics such as do-it-yourself bomb-making and suicide pacts that may influence gullible minds and others who have no grasp on critical reading and critical thinking.

“The cyberspace is much too vast for anyone to handle, so rather than taking the offensive, an alternative mechanism against these dangerous sites would be to remind yourself and the people around you to be selective in their reading and be careful when digesting materials on blogs.”
According to Siti, in certain aspects, self-censorship is necessary. Most bloggers are a responsible lot, but sometimes their blog visitors do leave malicious or defaming comments that need zapping.

“Blogging is a fast-growing trend – everyone who has an Internet connection can blog nowadays. Creating a blog and publishing a post take only minutes to complete, but enforcing law is rarely as fast nor as uncomplicated. A legislation may help, but more as a last resort,” she said.



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