#IMWeekly: August 15, 2014

by claire mcnear

On Saturday, Malaysia’s Minister of Communication and Multimedia announced that the federal government would undertake a study of the feasibility of banning Facebook. In response, the opposition Democratic Action Party pledged nationwide protests should the study move forward. The minister later backtracked, stating that there are no plans to block Facebook in the country. This follows last week’s call by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an enduringly popular figure in Malaysian politics, to institute some level of censorship online to preserve public morality.

Thailand’s ruling junta banned the computer game Tropico 5, which leads players through a military coup to establish an island dictatorship. The junta, which seized power through its own military coup in May, was not taken with the similarity: the National Council for Peace and Order ordered the Department of Cultural Promotion to ban sales on the basis that the game is offensive to the Thai royal family. Thailand’s lèse majesté laws carry harsh penalties, and are frequently used to stifle journalists.

On Wednesday, the first draft of a law that would curb media and Internet freedom was passed by the Ukrainian legislature. The law, which Global Voices called “Kremlinesque,” would allow the government to shutter media websites and TV and radio stations without a court order. The bill has advanced through the government unusually quickly.