Government official says that the government may soon use phone tapping and Internet monitoring to help root out corporate and government corruption, a huge problem that costs the country as much as $9 billion a year.
Paul Low, a Malaysian senator and a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said that the government may allow phone tapping and Internet monitoring as it steps up the war on corporate and government corruption. However, he maintained that the process is still in its early-stages and declined to provide specifics about how sweeping any new powers on surveillance might be or how they'd be used. It is currently unclear to what degree the government is already snooping on its citizens.
China is still the source of more distributed denial of service (DDoS) traffic than any other country in the world, despite seeing a drop in overall share. Activity in Indonesia spiked, from being the source of just 0.7 percent of all DDoS traffic in the fourth quarter of last year up to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to Akamai's latest State of the Internet report.
The United States joined global Internet giants Google and Facebook in criticizing a new decree in Vietnam that further curbs online free speech and forces foreign companies to keep servers inside the country.
Decree 72, issued last month and due to come into effect in September, has been criticized for further curbing freedom of speech and restricting the sharing of information. The law states that blogs and social media sites should only be used to share personal information and users are "not allowed to quote, gather or summarize information from press organizations or government websites." In addition to this law, bloggers can also be charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which relates to “conducting propaganda against the state” and can carry a three to 12 year sentence. There are currently 35 cyber-dissidents jailed in Vietnam, which is now second only to China in the number of news providers it is detaining. The government also announced that they want to manage online chat apps like Viber, Line, and WhatsApp, reasoning that their use will result in a loss of revenue for licensed telecom companies.
Thai police plan to extend their monitoring campaign against perceived threats to national security to the digital realm – chats on the popular Line app.
Thai police announced their plan to keep tabs on users of the Line app who "discuss issues that pose a potential threat to national security", critics, however, have denounced the plan for infringing on people's privacy. National police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew maintained that the plan does not breach privacy as the police will not trace the chat logs of all Line users, but will check on certain individuals, case by case. He also said that he had spoken with Line Corporation and that they are willing to cooperate with Thai authorities. But the company responded by reaffirming its stance on user's privacy and refusing to give up its user data to police while disclosing that it has not been officially contacted by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), the agency which played a major part in writing the law on computer crime, regarding the matter. The company revealed that Line has up to 230 million registered users. Of those, 47 million are in Japan, 18 million in Thailand, 17 million in Taiwan, and 14 million in Indonesia.
Government fears the site could be a platform for overseas interests to influence local politics.
TheIndependent.sg, a news website intended to provide independent news, comment and analysis for Singapore, was launched on August 9. But even before the publication went live, it attracted the attention of the Media Development Authority (MDA). In a statement, the MDA said that the government "has received specific information which gives it cause for concern over foreign interest to fund The Independent", without elaborating further what that was. A response statement by the website's management confirmed that it is complying with the regulations in place and will be registering under the section. The country came under fire recently when it created the new restrictive law for licensing online news websites. The new rules stipulate that websites which have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month and publish at least one local news article per week over a period of two months must obtain an annual license.
Burma’s Lower House of Parliament is considering amending the draconian Electronic Transactions Law, a tool used by the country’s former military dictators to suppress political activism.
The seventh regular Session of the Lower House has approved a proposal to amend the Electronic Transactions Law on August 21. The law was promulgated by the former military regime in April 2004 and allows for up to 15 years in prison for "Internet users who receive, send or distribute any information that threatens or disturbs state security, law and order, community peace, national solidarity, the national economy or national culture." The proposed amendment is timely given that there has been a lot of attention on the country’s untapped potential for investment, particularly in the technology and communications sectors. The amendment is timely as Myanmar plans to dramatically increase Internet and mobile connectivity, and in January, it hosted Barcamp Yangon, the country’s largest tech conference, attended by an estimated 6,000 people (some say it was the largest meet in the world). Moreover, Squar, the country's own version of social networking site, Facebook, has more than 79,000 ‘likes’ and over 16,000 people talking about it.
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