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AWSJ: Lycos Glitch Wipe Out Sites
By Chen May Lee

22/3/2001 10:48 pm Thu

[Samada masalah teknikal atau tidak, Tripod telah melakukan satu kesilapan penting yang mencemarkan imej koporat syarikat. Ia sepatutnya memaklumkan dulu kepada pelanggan sebaliknya ia membuang terus laman dan membiarkan pengendali keresahan selama beberapa hari tanpa apa-apa sebab atau perkhabaran. Padahal ia mempunyai cukup kepakaran untuk memberi makluman kerana hampir semuanya kerja telah diautomasikan. Membuang satu-satu laman dengan sebab yang begitu samar dan tanpa sebarang notis adalah sikap yang tidak seharusnya dipraktikkan jika lycos tripod ingin menjadi syarikat yang tidak malang.

Kempen membenci atau istilah 'menghasut' kerap dijadikan alasan sedangkan tidak salah untuk rakyat membenci kezaliman. Jika kerajaan tidak silap ia tidak perlu merasa kepedasan. Sebaliknya ia mahu rakyat diam walaupun negara diambang kemusnahan. Dengan mendedahkan kezaliman kita membuktikan cinta kita kepada negara yang disayang. - Editor]

The Asian Wall Street Journal
21st March 2001

Malaysian Opposition Web Sites Are Wiped Out by Lycos Glitch



When U.S.-based Tripod, the Web site-building service of Terra Lycos SA, wiped out sites over the weekend that were critical of the Malaysian government, a minor political storm erupted in the Southeast Asian country.

Malaysian opposition groups who rely on the Web to mobilize supporters immediately suspected that the unit of Lycos, an Internet portal, had succumbed to pressure from the Malaysian government to shut down opposition sites.

"If Terra Lycos has been at the receiving end of pressure from the ruling party of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, then the company should make it known to the world," Lokman Noor Adam, an official of Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Nasional, or National Justice Party, wrote in an impassioned plea Monday to Terra Lycos's executive chairman, Joaquim Agut.

Technical Blunder

The two-and-a-half page letter, which cites the names of 12 other affected sites, ends with an appeal to Lycos to restore the party's youth-wing Web site, Pemuda Keadilan, for the sake of "individual freedoms and the upholding of justice."

But the company said the sites, which were expected to all be re-activated by Wednesday, were hit by a mere blunder.

A Tripod representative said the company accidentally removed some member pages while clearing other unrelated pages that violated its terms of service. The company wasn't able to say how many innocuous or offending sites in the U.S. or elsewhere were affected, and didn't directly address the Malaysian case. Tripod and a second Lycos Web-community site, Angelfire, collectively have more than 100,000 Web sites created by members around the world.

The episode highlights the sensitivity of Internet users to perceived corporate restriction of free speech, and underlines the question of how local standards -- and national laws -- are applied to what is essentially a global medium.

In the past couple of years, Malaysians frustrated with the government-controlled mainstream media have increasingly turned to online news for information about the country. These news sources have ranged from neutral foreign news sites to fledgling online newspapers such as Malaysia to Web sites supporting jailed political dissident Anwar Ibrahim, whom Dr. Mahathir sacked as his deputy in 1998. There are also virulently anti-Mahathir Web sites that depict the prime minister as an evil pharaoh-like figure. Web-site editors working on the more strongly antigovernment sites are often anonymous, and like to talk ominously of a possible police crackdown.

For the most part, however, Dr. Mahathir's government has left the Internet alone. The prime minister wants to promote his Multimedia Super Corridor, a wide-ranging plan launched in 1996 to build his own version of Silicon Valley and has promised not to censor the Internet as part of his guarantees to foreign investors.

Still, before Tripod's acknowledgement of the error was publicized, the shutdowns fed an outcry about free speech in Malaysian domestic politics.

Syed Husin Ali, a veteran opposition politician whose Parti Rakyat Malaysia, or Malaysian People's Party, is aligned to Parti Keadilan, joined in the fray Tuesday. "We do not believe that it is purely coincidental that over 20 Web sites have been 'terminated" by Tripod," Mr. Syed Husin said.

After some of the sites were restored, opposition leaders appeared to have calmed down. Mr. Lokman acknowledged that his site was up and running Tuesday, adding that he had read that the problem was a technical glitch.

Seditious Material

Fears of government involvement aren't totally unfounded: A few weeks ago, the editor of the Free Anwar Campaign Web site, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, was arrested and investigated for allegedly posting seditious material on the site.

For Tripod, violations of terms of service might include copyright infringement, promotion of illegal activity, child pornography or "clear expressions of bigotry, racism or hatred," according to the company's Web site.

But the decision isn't clear-cut. In deciding what to remove, Lycos also takes into account the laws of each country, said Bernard Chan, vice president of marketing at Lycos Asia Ltd. Since laws vary from country to country, it is often "a tough call," Mr. Chan said.