4/25/2008

Singaporeans are control freaks

We are crazy in this area. We want to control everything. And if we are not controlling others, we want others to control us. We cannot leave things alone. There must be rules and regulations to guide our life. The internet is formless and without boundary. It is literary in vitual space. It is only a little more than what is in our mind, our thoughts, because of the network it resides in, the server and memory disc. Why then should it be regulated? Why is it that Singaporeans expect that it should be regulated? And why ask for it? This is a wrong premise to start with. Asking to be controlled is conceding that it should be controlled. There are enough rules and regulations, laws etc to manage our life. Slanders, libels, mischiefs, frauds, vandalism, whatever, in cyberspace can land one in the court of law. Cyberspace should be left alone as it its. Caveat emptor, the bloggers or forumers are owners of their posts and responsible for themselves. Let the offenders and offended parties track down the culprits and bring them to the court. It will be another lucratic economic activity for the business minded. My view is to leave cyberspace alone. There is no need for additional rules and regulations. Cyberspace has no physical footprint, no territorial space, and should be that way. We must remove this control mentality in us. Why allow people to control us? Is it so good to be controlled? Actually cyberspace cannot be controlled. At best one can blog out the site or go after the owner by tracking him down if he violates any existing laws. Do we want people to control our thoughts?

12 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Do we want people to control our thoughts? <

No one can "control" your thoughts. The only thing you can do is allow yourself to be influenced by someone elses' ideas, which means you choose.

The Sg.Gov has never been about "controlling" people's thoughts. They are focused on controlling how you express those thoughts.

Elfred said...

Yeah, let rich scoundels go around the cyberspace and threaten all who expose their creepy deeds with legal actions and let people with ulterior motives pressure the gahmen and so on.

Reddie, isn't that juicy to you? Hahahahahaha...

BTW, the existing laws is actually, by right, have no basis on cyberspace happenings.

Some scoundels could be aiming to control the internet via the ISPs while they hope the gahmen can provide them with big leeway...

Matilah_Singapura said...

> the existing laws is actually, by right, have no basis on cyberspace happenings. <

So what? It is not difficult for the govt to extend existing laws to the internet, or write completely new laws.

Who, or what is to stop them?

Elfred said...

I have written this on TOC.

You can view Singaporeans in Cyberspace as Singapore having a seat and involvement in UN.

In the participation of various other nations and such, you cannot have Singaporean laws in the conduct of UN, nor will you accept China or Zulu's laws on Singaporean UN's involvement.

When Singapore fought Malaysia for Pedra Branca, the basis is what? It's the greater legal framework offered by the world.

Now the problem is Singapore cannot claim the cyberspace in parts to belong to Singapore to try assert its laws as Singapore cannot claim it got a seat in UN, and part of UN must come under its laws.

This is basically nosense.

I suppose the ministers know, which is why a big embarassment has been avoided this far.

The government is probably, however, trying to control the ISPs or the online infrastructure. This is why the tricky part is. If the gahmen controls a gahmen funded network, it can threaten the ISPs to ban all political sites.

We are after all not China.

Think, Matilah.

Cyberspace is a world event, if Martians come online, even Mars will be part of it.

Controlling the ISPs by gahmen funded infrastructures are probably useless, unless Malaysia and Indonesia join hands with Singapore... which is unlikely for another 15 years given the current political landscape.

The issue now is rich scoundels' influence over media and ISPs, and... the gahmen. This is the critical part. If the gahmen understands the legal basis issue, but the snobs don't. And it is precisely from these scoundels that alot of challenges to Singapore's integrity and reputation arisen. Got it?

Matilah_Singapura said...

Elfred, at the risk of giving ideas to the govt to restrict even more of your freedoms (not mine–I have ways of circumventing the fascist SG.gov)... here it goes.

What you have alluded to is an eminent domain" claim on S'pore cyberspace as "property to be controlled and regulated by the state". And you think it can't be done. It can.

> Singapore cannot claim the cyberspace in parts to belong to Singapore to try assert its laws as Singapore cannot claim it got a seat in UN, and part of UN must come under its laws. <

"Singapore" can't, I agree. But the S'pore State CAN, and already HAS, by using "eminent domain" as the basis. There is no central authority governing the leglities on the internet. Therefore govts can do as they please and regulate what comes under their purview—in s'pore it is "social cohesion", "national security", "core vlues" and associated fucking BULLSHIT those thugs in Home Affairs can come up with.

You see, under the westminster system, parliament can take away any of your rights, anytime it pleases, by passing laws—the favourite being based on "national security". This is how the PAP passed statutes clearly violating the constitution which guarantees for e.g. freedom of assembly. The PAP argues that in the past there were violent riots in S'pore, so the state has laws to limit public gatherings, as a crowd turning ugly is a threat to national security.

Similarly, the media—print and electronic is REGULATED. it is ILLEGAL to print or broadcast without permission in Singapore. All content is subject to CENSORSHIP.

Therefore if we regulate print and electronic media, as well as film, then it stands to reason that content created on the internet should also be regulated. Which is what the govt has done, and continues to ponder MORE legislation.

Taking the "illegal assembly" argument further: it is illegal to have a pubic gathering in S'pore without police approval. Of course, S'pore is "by the book", so there are laws governing this. There are also laws governing the registration of clubs and societies.

Now extend it to cyberspace: if permission is required to assemble in public, then "assembly" online could also be regulated bythe state (using the eminent domain argument for "jurisdiction"). That would make S'pore chat-rooms, forums etc. subject to the "public assembly" laws, and also the registration of clubs and societies statutes.

The point is, internet use in S'pore is ALREADY regulated–but not the point I've suggested (OK, so I'm giving the govt ideas). BUT the govt has "promised" (hahahahahaha) a "light touch" (whatever the fuck that really means), and have basically not enacted the laws to the letter...unless it wants to make an example out of people — which it has.

My original question to you remains unanswered: WHO, or WHAT is going to stop them?

redbean said...

matilah, when you switch on your blog, you can be in perth, bangkok or paris. the blog will appear on your screen. the blog actually exists in the whole wide world but no where except in your pc.

one can say this blog is in singapore or in bangkok. is this real?

what the govt possibility could hit is the service provider. if they are in local soil. that will drive all those anti govt to use service providers overseas.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> one can say this blog is in singapore or in bangkok. is this real? <

Unlike normal real-world law, internet law physical doesn''t depend on "territory" as it does in finding "justice". However laws are made by sovereign nation-states whose definition depends on territory. This adds to the confusion.

The courts already know this, because that is the first line of defense "My website is in the US so S'pore's laws don't apply".

Yes, they do apply. The difference is that in the US, free-speech is PROTECTED by law.I would suggest if your website was in a country where free speech was NOT protected, you'd be toast.

I make sure I pay my taxes to the country which has laws GUARANTEEING MY RIGHT to free speech, and the courts will uphold that.

The sweetest thing is, despite their many faults, western democracies DETEST tyrannical govts who trample on citizens rights to express themselves, especially in the political realm. In western societies politicians are fair game--you can say anything about them, but you can't of course threaten them. Western democracies are always hoo-ha-ing over how "totalitarian" certain cuntries are with lack of liberties for their people.

Singapore is one cuntry frequently criticised by the west for its high-handed attitude toward political expression. All they can do is criticise and not interfere because S'pore is a sovereign state. HOWEVER, if it came down to a battle in court then the principles of justice apply.

On-going example:
http://www.yeocheowtong.com/

The S'poreans tried to sue the American owner ofthe site. The American sumitted a writ to sue the S'poreans for interfering with his US constitutional rights to freedom of speech. Next thing you know--all quiet from the S'poreans. You can look for the documents on the site... he's kept very orderly records and documented the whole comedy.

The point ot remember is this: we are responsible for what we do and what we say. In certain jurisdictions there are LAWS governing what you can say and what you can't. Singapore is one example: political discussion is limited, as is racial and religious speech.

Many of us might "cross the line" (I know I do) when we blog and forum. does the sg.gov JUMP at every cyber "misdemeanor"? Of course not, becuase even as uptight as they are, the sg.gov is still intelligent enough to realise that they would make it worse for themselves if the governed the net with a heavy hand.

> what the govt possibility could hit is the service provider. <

It is unlikely that they would have to. ISP's are in business to make money, and like any long-term thinker, if you are going to make money, first don't run afoul of the laws of the land.

This is why when you sign a contract with an ISP, they stipulate that you re forbidden to do anything "contrary to the laws of the land"...which protectsthe ISP's arse. If you misbehave, they terminate your contract.

Just like any other business: get rid of the bad customers and seek out and keep more good cutomers. This means long-term profits.

Even Google and Yahoo "adjusted themselves" when they setup in China--to the chagrin of the multitude of freedom-loving netizens--who accuse Yahoo and Google of "selling out" to the Chinese govt. We all know the likes of Yahoo and Google are into making money.

Elfred said...

Matilah,

I think you still miss my point. I never say if UN never approved, in 'reality system', USA cannot invade Iraq or Afganistan. Got it?

You have to go deeper than the average local lawyers who are known to be only textbook deep.

As a state, a state exitsby right becos it is registered as a state under UN. But, of cos, we have Myanmar who CAN control internet, but Singapore is NOT Myanmar, nor China. Our basis of relevance, hence survival, is based on our respect to sovereignty...

Many people see that in your way, which is understandable. But in real, 'crimes' which are within cyberspace is not really having any legal basis for any state alone. Just as Singapore may impose laws that members to UN should carry explosives to fend for themselves, but you can't say that kinda laws is valid or have any legal basis when Tommy Koh brings TNT to UN seating...

Whatever happen in Singapore is NOT in Singapore, but in the cyberspace, a 'UN' involving all. Just like Reddie's bashings or caustic remarks on the gahmen... If Singapore laws attack mysingaporenews as illegal, but in that same cyberspace, Malaysian anti PAP supporters will find mysingaporenews as not only legal but symbolic~!

And Mysingaporenews' copyright or existence is not even Singaporean! What if Blogspot coy is under Iran?

It makes no legal sense to say Matilah is (eg) islamic radicals while Syria or Turkey may find your blog so encouraging. You just cannot have a state's laws to decide the cyberspace activities.

Assuming Reddie has a 'We Love Dr Chee' video with Youtube in, say, Australia and MM Lee sentence Reddie's video illegal but youtube's boss is a Human Rights or Dr Chee supporter... What is the point??? You can say the video is right and wrong. It's illogical.

Even if you have a UN legal structure for internet, very soon, blog or forum may be evolved to something else, just as IRC n emails evolve into forum.

But of cos, if the gahmen play gangster... Westminster or not, got guns wanna play barbarian... then laws like no laws.

But if you think very carefully, no states' laws can claim a part of cyberspace. Because that same part of cyberspace may be shared by various sovereign states. If Singapore insists to muscle in, then Pedra Branca's international law fight is meaningless.

While ISP companies are under the legal framework of Singapore, removing Starhub, Singtel and local ISPs doesn't mean the 'offending' site is removed or illegal. The site is still in cyberspace, as a copy or what.

This is like trying to say Singaporeans are illegal because they killed pigs for porks by the middle east pple because it may be indeed so in middle east... Internet is an overlap regardless of physical terriotory.

You can discuss this in my blog, cos finding my way here is rather troublesome as Reddie increases his postings.

Elfred said...

I think this issue needs me to physically talk about in some forums... Bad thing is, I don't come out of the screen.

Rgds.

Elfred.

Matilah_Singapura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matilah_Singapura said...

My position: I do not support any form of regulation on the internet, which suppresses freedom of speech or censorship of content.

Laws need to evolve "naturally", the way Common Law evolved where the judges and courts had to "find the law" with justice as the objective where conflicts arose. The main purpose of laws is to resolve conflicts, and judges "finding the law" instead of governments "making the law" (statutes) preserves our liberty, and protects our rights. When govts make law, it can be on arbitrary grounds--often to impose "morality" or some nonsense in the govts favour, which gives them the edge to control people even more.

As the internet is a special case in the realm of human life, there will be laws which are specific to the net. My point is that these laws should be allowed to evolve naturally--out of the judgments and cases involving conflicts on the internet.

One area of law which has been evolving is the area of copyright. Another area is computer misuse--laws governing hacking.

A few points you might want to note:

> As a state, a state exitsby right becos it is registered as a state under UN <

No, that is not true.

> You just cannot have a state's laws to decide the cyberspace activities. <

Too late. We already have them. Every country has them. Aust and the US have been using their state laws to successfully prosecute people in different countries. Don't forget--unless the laws applied relate to suppression of political and civil freedoms, law enforcement agencies around the world (police, FBI, Interpol etc) ALWAYS COOPERATE with one another to bring justice to the people doing bad things on the net.

> no states' laws can claim a part of cyberspace. <

That's not the way the laws on cyberspace are made. "Eminent domain" principles are applied to regulate ACTIVITY on the net, i.e. the ACTIVITY is judged "illegal', then the person responsible for that activity is made ACCOUNTABLE. "State territory" has little or nothing to do with it. An example is the extent of S'pores anti-drug laws. If you are a Singaporean you are forbidden to take any illegal drug no matter WHERE you are in the world, even though the drug may be de-criminalised somewhere else. For e.g. if you went to Amsterdam for holiday and smoked marijuana (de-criminalised in Holland) you are breaking Singapore law. Yes, people have been caught, and continue to be caught. Thus the (S'pore) law is based on the illegality of the ACTIVITY, and then holds the person doing it accountable.

I've already made my points at length here, so I won't be taking this any further for now.

I will answer my original question to you, since you haven't: The agency most effective in preventing the govt making tyrannical laws is the judiciary. That is, of course, assuming the principle of the "separation of powers".

I'll leave you to draw you own conclusions in the case of Singapore.

redbean said...

the lesser the regulations the better, i agree with matilah on this.

other than some technical aspects of cyberspace that are totally alien to existing laws, we should not allow any more regulations that are not necessary.