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Malaysia vs The World (Malaysiakini vs EFF)

In Blogging, Malaysia on September 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Dedicated to:

All in Malaysia who do not run online businesses and therefore might not appreciate the intricacies of network protocols, hacks, or web services:

Against anonymity: Generally, Malaysians – including Premesh Chandran of Malaysiakini – think it’s a form of cowardice because bloggers avoid disclosure of their actual identity on their blogs. This, he believes, is the same as not showing your idenity to our government. To this I say, its flawed thinking because, in Malaysia, the government requires less time than watching a Batman movie to figure out who you are for many, many reasons. Look, there’s no Data Protection Act, nor right to privacy in Malaysia. Hence, to claim you are releasing your actual name and thus is not a coward when criticising the government is just grandstanding. Our government knows who you are anyway. Nicknames, real names, false names are useless. The point: Don’t be fooled by grandstanding as you’re not anonymous to our government.

[NOTE: Updated 12th Sep, I know readers don’t normally read comments. Please note Premesh Chandran of Malaysiakini has commented on the above paragraph, pls see his point under the comments section]

What can you do? Unless you log in from jurisdictions with strong privacy laws, don’t for a minute think our government can’t figure you out. Even then, privacy is eroding in such places. Another way is counter-measures to anonymise your online surfing, but even if you use tor – they still might find out. So, you can’t do much.

For anonymity: Change the law and protect yourself – especially for bloggers, who post personal info online, the data collected about you can be very, very dangerous. Coupled with your actual identity and either USD$15.00 (fifteen dollars US) or a bit of logical thinking, you’ve got yourself a free bank account of your friend, an enemy or the sucker who wants everyone to know their REAL name when they blog.

If you believe anonymity is good for you, you would agree with EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

If you don’t believe in anonymity, again I say:

  • see a running total of hacked identity in 4 years (244,794,916, updated 8th Sept 2008, in US alone) and links on this page for what to do when your digital ID is stolen.

Whether you choose to blog anonymously or not, is obviously your choice but for goodness sake – know the potential threats and risk of your information security and benefits (if any) to disclosing personal info to 1.5 billion people online.

One final point, please don’t try breaking my online anonymity, not because you can’t do it – I’m not that stupid to issue a challenge – but because there’s nothing in my account.

If you liked this post, check out an ebook (pdf) by Daniel Solove – “The Digital Person“, available here (free).

I remain anonymous, not to the authorities, but to general online surfers because I pretty much equate real info online with too much booze on a wild night in Macao.

Actually, my inspiration for this post is from accidentally coming across a data dump on complete ID of Malaysia’s corporate bankers. No, I did not download the data. But it’s there. And that’s nuts.

Are we there yet?

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  1. It’s a false thinking, i very much agree with you. Malaysiakini survives because of lack of education about the world wide web among Malaysians. In other words, Malaysiakini has been blessed by foolishness, suprisingly for quite a long period of time.

    Globalization itself is driven by internet anonymity. User-generated contents are becoming more popular than press-released contents. Tagging, rating, voting, linkbaiting and subsribing proves more important than featuring. Most of the time, we choose to sort out a list by “Most Popular” rather than “Most Recent” or “Recently Featured”. Anonymity allows democarcy to work wonders on the internet. And we should appreciate the less filtered contents we’ve been getting nowadays.

    We can express more honestly when we feel secured. For the majority, it remains as a belief though, not fact, that we can be anonymous.

  2. I think you are putting words in my mouth. My article which you quoted, did not say that anonymous blogging is a form of cowardice. I am not of that opinion.

    What I did say is that both Jeff and Rocky stand by what they have said in their blogs, and therefore what they say, has more credibility.

  3. Prem of Malaysiakini has commented that I misquoted him (“putting words in my mouth”) – read his comments above.

    I do not believe I misquoted him. Readers are encouraged to read the article by Prem again.

    I’ll make a post later, a day or 2 later, on this point.

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