Wednesday, February 8, 2023

[Comment] Malaysia Government blocks File Sharing websites

In a very disappointing move late last month, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission(SKMM) has directed the ISPs to block a number of file sharing sites.

While the move is silly and will not take these websites offline, millions of Internet users in Malaysia won’t be able to access these site(Megaupload, Filestube, Megavideo, Depositfiles, ) directly despite the promise by the Malaysian Government that it will not censor the Internet.

(source: Prasys’s Blog)

During the past year, SKMM have been working very hard to block websites with adult content and phishing site that steal user’s information. That’s a good thing.

But blocking these file sharing sites are probably a foolish move because not all contents on this site are illegal. There are still a number of documents, legal softwares, videos and mp3 hosted on these websites.

If the Malaysian Government(specifically the intelligent people in SKMM) wants to censor the Internet, these are my recommendations:

  • Block YouTube- because lots of pirated video on it
  • Block Google- because it shows anti-Government search results when you search “Malaysia Government sucks”
  • Scan emails for pirated/illegal content- Instruct Google/Hotmail/Yahoo to provide access to their servers around the world so SKMM can scan Malaysian email account for illegal contents.
  • Privacy Act- A new law that will force all Malaysians to install a software like Green Dam(China) so SKMM can have exclusive access to user’s PC and monitor their private chats, etc
  • Block Facebook/Twitter and hundreds of social network site- because these sites are all about SHARING…and SHARING is illegal from all SKMM’s perspective.

What Malaysians can do:

  • Change your DNS
  • Use VPN
  • Vote for a new Government( not necessarily the opposition)- The current Government failed to keep its promise that it will not censor the Internet

Piracy/illegal Content is a Global Issue

SKMM may have a good intention, but it is probably not the right way of doing it. If the issue here is about illegal contents like movies, music or videos then education and making legal contents available though the right channel is the right way to do.

SKMM is not alone in making a mistake here.

Even until today, the entertainment industry still wants to profit out of the traditional way.

The movie makers want their movie to be released in theaters first before the original DVD becomes available. Consumers want to watch the movie at home, so they buy it from pirated DVD sellers(Note that a pirated DVD cost about the same of a movie ticket in Malaysia). When the original DVDs becomes available, it is late by months and that does not justify the price of the DVD.

If consumers are given the option to watch the latest movies at home or on the go at a reasonable price, why would they buy pirated DVDs?

As for the music industry, a lot albums are made available online but why is it popular only in the US(thanks to iTunes) and not around the world? The record labels are still sleeping for the past few years while companies such as Apple changed the way people buy music. Globally these record labels have yet to have a success story in directly selling music online, maybe they want Apple to do their job, again?

The software industry are also facing these issues but in the end of the day, if consumers don’t see value in the software they won’t pay a high price for it.

I can safely say that pirated contents have a larger distribution network if compared to the originals contents. There are less than a few hundred original content website versus hundred thousands of pirated content website. There are more pirated DVD sellers on the streets if compared to the original DVD shops.

Why would the consumers go to the supermarket if is is cheaper to buy from the grocery shop near their house?

Internet is just a medium for Piracy

If the piracy issues can’t be resolved on the streets, how can it it be resolved online?

I’m writing this post at a cafe while 5 different pirated DVD sellers have approached me over the past hour.  Note that these pirated DVD sellers have been around for the past 3-4 years. What is the Malaysia Government doing about this if they are so serious about piracy?

Internet is just a medium for pirated/illegal contents and these contents will always exist(in multiple forms such as DVD, illegal broadcast, hard disk, thumdrive..etc). The question here is, instead of stopping/censoring/blocking these pirated contents, how do you deal with it by making use of it?

You see, there’s always demand for content and Malaysians want entertainment, every human does. SKMM can go ahead and block these websites because pirated contents are still available on thousands of website.

The only way of censoring the Internet is to scan through all Malaysia Internet traffic. But if you ask me, Malaysia Government should just kill the ISPs in Malaysia so no broadband/Internet service can be offered to consumers. This way, consumers can’t access the gazillion pirated contents available freely on the Internet.

Maybe our Malaysia Government is trying to be a hero in the Internet world? The most disappointing part is that the Communication Ministry(SKMM) have yet to communicate this announcement to public.

Check out the discussion here on LowYat forum.
Kugan is the co-founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy

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