Watchdog: TM, Maxis censored ‘live’ result site on Polling Day

Zurairi Ar
Voters queue up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the 14th general elections in SMK Sri Muar, Muar May 9, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Broadband providers Telekom Malaysia and Maxis blocked access to ‘live’ election result site on the evening of Polling Day, tech advocacy and watchdog group Sinar Project revealed today.

Based on its monitoring on May 9, Sinar Project said the censorship was done through a process called domain name server (DNS) hijacking, starting from 9.55pm.

“Network interference data by Open Observatory showed that for critical period of GE14 election result updates in late evening, TMNet & Maxis blocked Malaysiakini’s via DNS hijacking,” it said in a report published today.

It said some users who used the two networks were also redirected to the address, used to host a standard government legal notice that a site has been blocked.

However, the group said it could only get connection errors from the redirected server.

“First measurement detecting censorship event occurred at 9:55pm on TMNet, shortly before official election updates from Elections Commission and other news sources stopped from around 11pm.

“This indicated that there was a possible attempt by caretaker government to censor alternative sources of election results such as those reported by independent news media,” it added.

Prior to the election, the group had identified several selected election-related sites that would be monitored and tested for possible censorship or interference using the tool Open Observatory for Network Interference (OONI), run through its mobile app.

It said there was no censorship in the period prior to the election.

Several sites such as, political party websites and official elections page were also temporarily inaccessible intermittently on different networks early on May 9, but that was mostly due to heavy traffic or other network related issues.

Malay Mail could not reach either TM or Maxis for comments at the time of writing.