Malaysia: Internet Censorship

It was a big day in Malaysia on Sunday, when the Malaysian national election was held. The ruling Barisan Nasional Coalition won the election, continuing its 56-year ruling streak, though not without controversy.  malaysia-flag

Besides the accusations of voter fraud in numerous ways such as 40,000 alleged fraudulent votes, some by foreigners, there was another problem that occurred prior to voting: Internet censorship and dedicated denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

In the days leading up to the election, citizens experienced numerous ISP blocks whether virtual private server or dedicated server, as well as DDoS attacks against sites of the opposing People's Alliance Coalition and sites of the independent media.

Malaysia Internet Censorship: DDoS Attacks Most Prevalent

The DDoS attacks were the most common form of attack, where the sites belonging to media or those of the opposing party were bombarded with fake traffic, meaning they became inoperable for the real users attempting to access the virtual private servers or dedicated servers to view the websites.

In an interview with The Verge, Cloudfare, a DDoS mitigation service, reported the attacks of numerous news outlets over the course of last week. The majority of these attacks: Layer 7 attacks that originated in Malaysia. Although no one can say for sure who is behind the attacks, it is known to be someone from their own country.

Malaysia Internet Censorship: Censorship By Malaysian ISPs

There was another way facts were being manipulated prior to the election. In a report by Access now, it states that five different Malaysian ISPs began actively blocking certain domains. Basically, if a request came in to their server for a certain web page, the request was denied.

Complaints were made about the blocked domains, so instead of restoring the website in its entirety, the ISPs began blocking certain pages within the domains. The blocked content appeared to be anything that went against the Barisan Nasional coalition. One of the blocks went after a certain YouTube video the party found damaging: it was set up in a way it appeared YouTube was having a problem, not that the ISP had blocked it at all. Facebook pages of the opposing party were also targeted.

Malaysia Internet Censorship: It Appears They Have Won

Despite knowing full well they did not have access to the full story after the blocking of content and DDoS attacks, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was able to win the election. However, his party was only able to secure 133 seats in the 222-seat parliament.

Najib's opponent, Anwar Ibrahim of the People's Alliance, is outraged over the outcome. He says the election was tainted by “unprecedented” electoral fraud, and has planned a rally in Kuala Lumpur this Wednesday.

The battle cry of the People's Alliance: stand up to corruption and defeat race-based policies. Anwar alleged the Barisian Nasional Coalition few an estimated 40,000 “dubiuos” voters into the country, some of them foreigners. The government denies this allegation, saying they were merely helping those legal voters in other areas get to their hometowns to cast their vote.

In a statement, Anwar said, “My heart is with every Malaysian who does not accept the results.”

What do you think about the censorship efforts by the government? Do you think the so-called independent ISPs should have refused to block domains?

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