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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Free Write Zone


I speak on behalf of my fellow netizens and bloggers throughout the world, both non-anonymous and anonymous, who can do a posting from anywhere in the world and can never be traced.

The internet and bloggers are here to stay. I am proposing a Internet Free Trade Zone or if you want to call it a Internet Free Write Zone. We are here not talking of Tax-Exempt status but Law-Exempt status. I am thinking out-of-the-box.

An entirely new medium of free speech and free expression is envisaged as encompassed in the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, article 19, which states " Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. "

Why I am suggesting this Internet Free Write Zone is because today the internet is:

1. A source of self-employment to thousands and very soon millions of Malaysians
2. An avenue for self-expression and the unleashing of the creative talents of the ablest in the country
3. An alternative forum from the traditional for counterpoints and arguments
4. To correct all injustices and mal-funtions of Governance
5. To develop and nurture democratic netizens and citizen journalism where every citizen has a stake in voicing his/her concerns of the nation
6. A source of reading material and encouraging a healthy reading habit in Malaysians
7. A source for the growth of the ICT industry with all citizens owning at least a computer each and access to the the internet
8. Sparing the courts from countless suits and counter-suits over citizen postings arising from laws known and unknown to netizens
9. Postings in the internet should not be construed as "Broadcasting" or "Publication" but as "Internet Postings" and hence not subjected to the laws governing the traditional media because these are non-profit postings by individual citizens who want to contribute to National Development. The known laws are sedition, defamation, copyright, contempt of court etc. There may be others not known at present which could arise even if an innocent posting is done.

What recourse have the defamed or the alleged have over a non-anonymous web posting owner:

1. Just ignore it - it is only allegation after all
2. Ask for a retraction of the said posting
3. Ask for an apology
4. Reply to the allegation in the comments column
5. Request for a posting in reply to the original posting
6. Start you own blog to counter the allegation

I suggest a Code of Ethics for all netizens and citizen journalists. Most bloggers today are responsible. But as in everything you will have the few rotten apples. And usually they will be anonymous and you cannot trace them anyway! Resorting to the courts is not allowed in citizen journalism for this reason. Hence declare it Free Write Zone.

I hope this matter is looked into by the authorities and a Bill is passed in Parliament as soon as possible for a vibrant and colourful Soft National Development.

Thank you.

Rajahram Ramalingam
18th April, 2007

( The above proposal was supposed to have been made at a seminar on Media and National Development in Putrajaya, but could not be done due to unavoidable circumstances.)