Political blogs and freedom of expression: a comparative study of Malaysia and the United Kingdom
Ismail Nawang, Nazli
Nawang, Nazli Ismail
The study is undertaken on the premise that the technological advancement of blogs has not only accorded a novel platform for communication, but has also democratised the right to exercise political expression in Malaysia. Blogs have on numerous occasions outpaced restrictive laws that were enacted to curtail the exercise of this fundamental right and have caused great challenges in applying the existing specific media laws to online content in the blogosphere. The main purpose of the study is to resolve the legal uncertainties faced by bloggers in disseminating political speech under the existing laws of the country and to analyse the legal position in the United Kingdom as a comparative model or reference to the issue. In so doing, the study examines the general principles and restrictive laws to freedom of expression and the application of these rules to political blogs, scrutinises the statutory rules and regulations that are currently being employed to govern the traditional media and the Internet as well as other relevant general legislation, in particular the law of defamation, that has been commonly employed to regulate blog entries and comments by readers in both countries. The study concludes that although offline and online content should not be treated differently and certain regulatory controls are undoubtedly necessary to prevent misuse of political blogs by unscrupulous persons, any legal measures to be adopted by the Malaysian government to govern political blogs should take into account the rapid development of various forms of Internet based communications and be proportionate in light of current needs and the local circumstances of the society.