Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Google blocking email after Bar Resolution on Internet Censorship?Google and Human Rights, Freedom of Expression?

My Gmail account blocked/locked on the night of 19th March, thus cutting my access to this 'Charles Hector Blog' - and this was just after my motions was adopted as Resolutions at the Malaysian Bar AGM.  

Bar AGM - stop censorship of the internet - unblocking and restoring internet access to The Malaysian Insider, Malaysian Chronicle..

Malaysian Bar calls on Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately resign as Attorney General, for the good of Malaysia..

The reason for the blocking "Policy Violation Warning" - it suggested 'violation of spamming policy' - but no details were provided. Odd, because my emails are send basically to the e-groups that I have set up, or the human rights e-groups to which I belong. There was nothing unusual about the e-mails that I have been sending - so, my belief was that it may have been because of the motions that I moved at the Malaysian Bar AGM. Was the timing a mere coincidence?

I send a response to Google immediately, and received back a message at about 12.23am(20/3/2016) that the account was unblocked, but shortly after that the account was blocked again. I wrote again, and received an email at about 2.12 am (20/3/2016) - but sadly the account remained blocked. 

I wrote a 3rd time to Google a longer email at about 3.24pm(20/3/2016)(the text of this email is to be found below) - and thereafter Google did unblock my gmail account. Thank you Google...
GOOGLE - well, a lot of  people use and depend on products of Google, like email (gmail), Google Groups and Blogs (blogspot), all of which are linked to google email accounts. 

If Google were to lock or block one's email account, then effectively it will disrupts one's ability to send and/or receive email, and even access past emails and the entire e-mail contact list. In this time, when people very much depend on e-mails, not just for personal communications, but also for business-related communications, such a move would have severe, if not drastic, consequences.

When an email account is blocked, then also will one's access to Google Groups that one is in, or even those that one is owner and administrator too, may be lost. Most persons use one email to join and/or remain part of e-groups - seldom do we use several different or alternative email accounts for the same e-group.

Likewise, when we set up BLOGs, we use this email account. When we set up blogs under blogspot, which is under GOOGLE, we use the same gmail account.

Having gone through this recent experience, the question of reliability of Google arises.

For Human Rights Defenders like me, dissemination of information, opinions and views in a timely manner is essential. Today, people are interested in a current human rights issues and concerns - but alas tomorrow, interest would slack. This is the world we live in.

A perusal of Google policy, gives Google the power to block any gmail account on the basis of one or more complaints. In my case, the allegation seem to be that '...your account have violated spamming policy...' The heading was 'Policy Violation Warning' - but alas, it was no 'warning' as the account was blocked

In my case, emails are sent to e-groups that I have long created - well, in any e-group, when a person is added, he/she has the option to remain in the said e-group or leave. When receiving email, again there is the option to select receiving email as it is posted, receiving summary of emails once a week, or the choice to receive no email - hence allowing periodic visit to the e-group to view the posting. Now, all these e-groups receive postings from me on a regular basis, generally whenever I write a new post in the Blog - and this have been going on for years with no complaints. Hence, very unlikely that anyone in these e-groups would have complained to Google.

The other e-groups are generally human rights defenders e-groups, which I am a member of, and likewise, it is most unlikely that someone in these e-groups will complain.

So, the question remain as to who has complained to Google to cause the locking/blocking of the emails sent out and received by them? If Google do provide the names of the complainant, clearly this will enable me to STOP sending them any emails in the future. Well, none of the recipients of the email has complained to me, which would be the natural response of anyone who wants to stop receiving emails from me...

Now, Google did not send material particulars that brought about their action to block my gmail account - and, worse is that they ask you to guess - their form states :- 'Describe why you think you received this policy violation warning on your account'. Well, this is like the police arrested you, and asking you why you think you have been arrested?. This is wrong and absurd - and, maybe Google should give us material particulars and us to 'show cause' why the account holder believes that their account should not be locked/blocked. This would be better. I hope Google will consider this approach - which is more in line with Human Rights.

Now, in Malaysia, we have had a series of government action of blocking access to website, blogs, etc - in fact, in Parliament, this was also recently disclosed 

'...KUALA LUMPUR: Since Jan 1 this year, 22 netizens were probed and 399 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), says Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari.Speaking during the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today, Jailani said the government was now working with Facebook and Google to curb social media abuses....' - FMT News, 8/3/2016

Now, this kind of internet censorship has been criticized, considering also the Malaysian government has given the assurance that there will be no censorship of the internet, stated also in Section 3(3) of Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 which states Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.’ 

The Malaysian Bar also addressed this issue in a Media Statement this month -  Misuse of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to Stifle Freedom of Speech and Expression Must End

Now, the statement of the Malaysian government in Parliament also mentioned that they are now working with Facebook and Google..., and I wonder whether this locking me out of my gmail account could have been initiated by the government, or maybe even some 'third party'(who may not even be a recipient of the my emails) to get Google to block my Google account.

When the government blocks - normally there is a notification given as to this fact, whereby the source of power, and some vague reason for blocking is stated. 

Now, in the case of Malaysian Insider and even the Sarawak Report, I believe that people outside Malaysia could still access it - but those using Malaysian internet service poviders like TM could not access...

BUT Google is not a Malaysian government-linked company, and I do hope Google, Facebook and/or other such international companies will not be 'pressured' into working with Malaysia or any other government for the purposes of curtailing freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and human rights.

GOOGLE, in my case did act promptly not once, but 2 times, in restoring my access to my email account, e-groups and most importantly my Blogs, and for that I am most appreciative.

I do hope that Google will respond to my last communication, and provide some needed clarification. Was the blocking caused by Google? Was the blocking a response to a request by the Malaysian government or some government official? The information about the complainant and material particulars of the said email would certainly be helpful - in me making sure that I stop sending emails to the said person, especially if he is in one of my e-groups...noting that some people have in fact asked to be included in my e-group. I worry whether such persons, in truth, may be just working for a 'government agency' to monitor my posts. If the person who complained is not one of the recipients, then the question would be 'how did he have sight of my email'? Was it an 'hacker'...or was it the some government department who is monitoring my email communications? If Google assists, the truth may be found out..


In any event, GOOGLE may have to make clear its position on Human Rights, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Opinion, Human Rights Defenders,...

GOOGLE must make its position clear whether it would simply block access on the mere request of the Malaysian government or an officer therein. They should at the very least require a Court Order - and not respond simply to executive and/or administrative requests. In my opinion, there is also currently no provision in law that allows the government and/or government department/agencies to block access to websites/blogs, or even block email accounts...

Remember that a lot of people rely on Google and gmail is their primary email. We expect our privacy in communication to be ensured, and that our communications by gmail reach the people to whom it is directed to. Google should also protect us, not cooperate with third parties, including government, to facilitate invasion of our privacy...

399 websites blocked by MCMC this year

 | March 8, 2016 
Government working with Facebook and Google to curb social media abuses.
KUALA LUMPUR: Since Jan 1 this year, 22 netizens were probed and 399 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), says Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari.

Speaking during the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today, Jailani said the government was now working with Facebook and Google to curb social media abuses.

Putrajaya had also formed a commission to focus on misuse of the Internet, chaired by the minister, Salleh Said Keruak.

“This is due to new challenges that have arisen with regards to the different interpretations of national laws and laws of the countries hosting these platform providers,” explained Jailani.

He was answering a question by Sapawi Ahmad Wasali (BN-Sipitang) on what the government had done to monitor social media users who had insulted national leaders.

The government had been heavily criticised for its clampdown on freedom of speech and the media.

Recently, The Malaysian Insider joined the list of news platforms blocked by the government. Others included Sarawak Report, Medium and Asia Sentinel. _ FMT News, 1/3/2016
My last email to Google

Dear Google,

I am still unable to access my email,, and also my blogs, including blog named, CHARLES HECTOR. When deprived access to my email list, it also cuts me off from all my email contact information, plus it does not allow all my friends/contacts the ability to contact me, noting that this is now my primary email contact address.

As I mentioned earlier, there has been no 'spamming' activity done by me, as my emails are sent to my friends/contacts, some in e-groups created and administered by me, and other e-groups where I am a member, with the right to post and share. All other emails are emails to my personal friends and contacts. There is nothing unusual about the email activity, as I have always been sending emails to the said persons, and e-groups. Many of these emails, are drawing attention to the new views/opinions that I share on my blog, and for your information, I receive from about 700 - 1,200 visits daily at the said blog. [The total number of visits to the said blog since it started exceeds 3 million, according to my calculation]

At the Malaysian Bar AGM on 19/3/2016, I moved a motion on internet censorship, and calling also for the unblocking of access to certain media websites and blogs, which was adopted as a Resolution, you can view the full resolution also at  CHARLES HECTOR: Bar AGM - stop censorship of the internet - unblocking and restoring internet access to The Malaysian Insider, Malaysian Chronicle..

CHARLES HECTOR: Bar AGM - stop censorship of the internet - unblocking and ...

The other motion, in which I was a co-mover, with Mr Francis Pereira and Mr Shanmugam Ramasamy, which was also adopted by the Malaysian Bar with an overwhelming majority was entitled, Motion on the Attorney General, Public Prosecutor and Improvement of Public Perspective of Administration of Justice in Malaysia, whereby, you can read the the resolution passed also at CHARLES HECTOR: Malaysian Bar calls on Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately resign as Attorney General, for the good of Malaysia..

CHARLES HECTOR: Malaysian Bar calls on Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately re...

Hence, when GOOGLE suddenly blocks my, and also the access to my blog CHARLES HECTOR, other blogs, at this time on or about 19/3/2016, raises the question whether the actions of GOOGLE may be connected  to the fact that I moved the above motions, which were adopted as Resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, whose members are about 17,000 lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia. Is it on the instructions of the Malaysian government, and/or the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission?

The blocking of the said email account, also cuts my access to the e-groups that I am in, noting that access to e-groups is only granted to persons under a particular e-mail account. For, most of these groups, in which I am also the Administrator, the account used is

I note that when I first notified Google, you did unblock my email account(I refer to your email received past midnight at 12.23am on 20/3/2016), but then it was again blocked shortly thereafter, and I again wrote to Google, and you responded again vide email at 2.12am, 20/3/2016, but unfortunately I am still unable to access the said account, and/or enter my Blogs to edit/post/delete posts.

I was of the opinion that GOOGLE respects human rights, including the freedom of expression and freedom of opinion, and that Google respects human rights defenders - but these actions of blocking my email account, and my Human Rights blogs raises questions.

Being the mover of these motions, I chose not to publish these motions to others, save members of the Bar, until after the Malaysian Bar Annual General meeting had considered and decided on it. Now, that the Bar has adopted these as Resolutions of the Malaysian Bar, it was time to publish the Resolutions, plus also relevant media reports, and also put out my additional views on the subject matter, but alas this 'locking' or 'blocking' has violated my rights, and also those of my friends/contacts and visitors to the blog.

I urge you to immediately unlock/unblock my access to the my account, my Blogs including the CHARLES HECTOR blog, and also the e-groups.

I note, that the Locking/Blocking was sudden and without notice - it was not merely the denial of posting, but it was also blocking access to my Contact lists, and older posts. It is a draconian action, which I would say in violation of Human Rights, and Google needs to reconsider this. There should have been warning or 'show cause' notifications as to why it should be blocked/locked. There must be material particulars of the alleged wrongdoings, or breach of conditions/policies. Now, even in the form, all you ask is 'Why do you think it was blocked?' (or words having a similar meaning?) - you leave the alleged violator of the policy/conditions guessing? This is not right.

Your prompt action is expected. If you are not responsible for the blocking/locking, urgently revert to me, hopefully in an hour or two. Every minute delay is a violation of my rights - since issues of today, need to be responded with views/opinions immediately...any delay makes it less relevant to readers of email and Blogs.

Thank you.

In solidarity,

Charles Hector Fernandez
Tel: + 6 019 2371 100
Alternative email:


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