How Malaysian ISPs Could Censor Content through the Transpacific Trade Partnership

by Tracy Knauer •

The Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP) is facing new criticism in Malaysia, where a legislator who opposes the agreement says it could increase Internet censorship.

Mohd Hatta Ramli, a member of the Malaysian parliament, said the TPP “would mean that providers could take down Internet content without any sort of repercussions, allowing for potentially widespread internet censorship,” according to The Malay Online.

His criticism of the TPP centers on a provision that gives Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the authority to remove any online content that they say violates copyright. Since it is up to the ISPs to determine which material on the Internet violates a copyright, they could use the policy as an excuse for removing any type of content at their discretion.

The TPP includes no measure designed to prevent misuse of this part of the regulations by ISPs. It does not punish ISPs that use the trade agreement as a premise for blocking access to sites that are not actually hosting copyrighted material.

On the other hand, the TPP requires governments that signed the agreement — which includes Malaysia — to censure ISPs that fail to remove copyrighted material in a timely manner – even if they have not received notice that content violates copyright. That provides incentive for ISPs to take an aggressive approach to removing content. They will likely err on the side of censorship rather than freedom.

Internet censorship by the government has already been an issue in Malaysia for some time. Now, the TPP may lead ISPs to censor material on their own, even without the government’s intervention.

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