Malaysia - the Southeast Asian country that has imprisoned at least two bloggers under sedition laws - is mulling a net filter along the lines of China's Green Dam. But Information Minister Rais Yatim says it would not be used to censor blogs and websites.
During a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Reuters reports, Rais said the proposed filter would be used to battle, yes, child pornography.
"The safety of our children is not an Internet game. We will find any way to ensure we are free from the culture of pornography among children," he said. "Those who call themselves liberals should look at what has happened to other countries who have become victims, where child sex occurs and pornography is widespread."
China paints its Green Dam filter in much the same way. Green Dam - which Beijing originally said would be required on all new PCs shipped in the country - works to identify images, text, and urls visited by net surfers, and if they match blacklisted items, they're blocked. Ostensibly, it's meant to block porn - Beijing likes to associate a filth-free internet with greenness - but it appears the package can also be used to quash political content.
According to US-based researchers and the US-based net nanny outfit Solid Oak - which has accused Green Dam's makers of pilfering its code - Green Dam prevents PC users from reading online political material or even typing certain terms or urls on their own machines.
China has delayed its Green Dam program, though some PC manufacturers have already shipped the filter to China, and it seems the plan has sparked a similar effort in Malaysia. At today's press conference, Rais said the government is evaluating similar software.
Though he said the software would not filter blogs or websites, he said that netizens would still be subject to local sedition laws. Malaysia has imprisoned at least two bloggers for sedition, including Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who was convicted of libeling government lawmakers. He faces another charge of sedition, but has since gone into hiding. ®