19 Feb 2006

More Singapore blogs, but bloggers aware of responsibilities

There has been an increasing number of blogs and podcasts in Singapore and with it a growing awareness say bloggers of their responsibilities and what constitutes as defamation.

This after 3 bloggers were charged in court last year for their racist online comments.

The podcast by bloggers known as mr brown and Mr Miyagi has been making waves in cyberspace.

Their most popular podcast last year ('Zhng my car') had more than 50,000 downloads which melted down their server at one point.

And they believe that blogging (and podcasting) is poised to take off in a big way here.

Lee Kin Mun, Blogger known as "mr brown", said: "It's a very easy thing to set up and do, it will probably become a powerful alternative media as people are getting comfortable to use this platform to self publish, to self express."

Now, you can set up your own blog online in 15 minutes thanks to technology.

And bloggers expect to see a proliferation of podcasting especially with more people taking to publishing and broadcasting on their own -once technology makes it even easier to set up podcasts - and this will make podcasting a major alternative publishing and broadcasting platform.

But many say this also throws up many legal questions such as regulation.

Lee Kin Mun said: "In some form or other, there will be a need to do that. It is, at the end of the day, publishing and broadcasting. How they do it is more interesting to explore whether they take a light touch to it or whether they going to legislate it in a very strict way. It's going to be hard to ignore, as it throws up lots of interesting aspects, issues of jurisdiction, legal aspects and all."

On defamation, bloggers and podcasters will be held liable if they publish or even air a defamatory statement.

Siraj Omar, Lawyer, said: "A blogger is responsible for what he puts online, be it for defamation or any other offence. It doesn't matter someone publishes comments in the newspaper or on the Internet via blogs or bulletin boards - your liability is the same. Just because a defamatory statement is on the internet does not absolve the maker of that statement from liability."

Many bloggers say they have become more aware of their responsibilities after 2 bloggers were jailed last year for posting racist comments on their blogs.

But bloggers say it will not stop them from online discussion.

Benjamin Lee, Blogger known as "Mr Miyagi", said: "It's not as if whatever you say, someone will come knocking down your door with a sledge-hammer. It's not quite a climate of fear. At the same time, it's not a freewheeling blogosphere."

And as more people take to technology and blogging, such discussions look set to grow in the future. - CNA/ch

In other words: watch what you say. Big Brother is watching.

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