“There is currently too much anonymity online.” That’s what government officials in Malaysia are saying in comments regarding plans to increase Internet censorship as the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak, faces allegations of corruption.
The suggestion that the Internet is too anonymous came from Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Malaysia’s tourism minister. He went on to explain that the problem, in his view, centers on social media, where people can easily post opinions and information without identifying themselves.
The minister said that such anonymity makes social media different from traditional publishing platforms because information from magazines, newspaper and the like — even if it is published online — usually has names and contact information associated with it. In contrast, social media is often anonymous.
The comments about anonymity follow moves by the government in August to block certain websites, including Sarawak Report, which published information regarding corruption allegations against Razak. Opponents of the prime minister contend that he embezzled about $700 million of public money.
In calling for less anonymity online, government officials have not suggested blocking social media altogether. Instead, they have argued that users should be required to sign up for platforms like Facebook using real names and identification numbers.
Still, the fact that the government in Malaysia has been harshly critical of anonymous Internet usage, while also shutting down access to certain websites, is a sign that Internet censorship and online privacy are likely to become increasing concerns for Malaysians. For people wishing to browse securely and privately in the country, it may be high time to take a look at a VPN service.