Bersih website blocked ahead of rally?

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After its warning yesterday, Bersih’s website has reportedly been blocked from Internet access, starting late yesterday evening.

Users on certain service providers have reported being unable to access www.bersih.org , which has returned an 'Error 404' page indicating that the site is inaccessible.

The move follows the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) warning yesterday that all sites “promoting” the rally planned for this weekend, which among others will call for Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign, will be blocked because the “websites could threaten national stability”.

However, the error page encountered by users since last night did not carry any MCMC disclaimer to indicate an official block of the site and not all DNS addresses are affected.

Malaysiakini is attempting to contact MCMC to verify if the errors are a result of an official block.

The rally is to take place tomorrow and Sunday, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur as well as in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

Critics have slammed the government for the overkill and one Umno leader, former deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah, has also criticised MCMC's move.

"They (authorities) will use whatever means to stop Bersih 4: block the Internet, declare it illegal, intimidation. Fight on Bersih," Saifuddin said.

Internet policing on rise

This is the second time in three months that MCMC has blocked or threatened to block a prominent website, after it stopped local access to whistleblower website Sarawak Report , claiming its articles on the scandal-ridden 1MDB were unproven.

Despite the Multimedia Super Corridor’s Bill of Guarantee ensuring no censorship of the Internet, a number of websites are blocked in Malaysia, typically adult websites or those involving Internet piracy.

The government is also slated to amend to the Multimedia Act and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act to grant MCMC wider powers to police the Internet.

The amendments, which have reportedly been in the works for years, are expected to be tabled in Parliament in October.

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