Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Free Speech in Blogging

Blogging can be dangerous, especially if your blog entries contain comments relating to the Singapore government or any person representing that government or its agencies. If your 'true' identity is traceable within the blog, you can be sued for any defamatory statements made on the Internet.

Tracking the identity of a blogger can be easy, especially if your true data has to be provided to the company hosting your blog. A host company, whether local or oversea, can be forced to reveal information of their users when a court order is served.

In a case on the Internet, a Singapore student in the United States was forced to shutdown his blog because of a comment he made on a government agency. Chen Jia Hao, 23, a first-year graduate student in the chemical physics PhD program at the University of Illinois, has to unreservedly apologize to The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore for unspecified "defamatory statements" made against the agency and its chairman Philip Yeo.

Today, the blog site of Chen no longer exist apart from an index page containing the apology. This issue has "raised concerns among international press freedom groups that Singapore, known for its strict controls on the traditional media, might be widening its scope to crack down against dissent on the Internet" (AFP 2005).

"We are troubled that the government has raised the spectre of costly legal action to chill commentary on the Internet," says executive director Ann Cooper of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in an interview with AFP.

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders told the AFP press that "such intimidation could make the country's blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media" (AFP 2005).

AFP (2005) "Student apologises to govt agency for Internet criticism", Singapore Window,, 3 May 2005 (Accessed 16 June 2005). Agence France Presse.


Elia Diodati said...

Trackback: Elia Diodati, Wiki, The AcidFlask Affair

Stacy said...

The internet and blogging explosion has created anxiety on the part of government- there is no greater example of free speech than what we are seeing now on the internet. That said, we have to band together to ensure that free speech is not curtailed, in this country or any other.

Its good to see you, as a journalist, writing on this.

Keep up the good work and great site!

Stacy said...

Do you have "track back" from haloscan on this site, because I was looking to "ping" you?

Writer n Journalist said...

Stacy ... trackback is now incorporated with this blog.

Stacy said...

Good, glad you added trackback- I think it helps because when you have a related post to something I am covering I can "ping" you.