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Wednesday, August 18, 1999
Major chat network bans all Malaysian users
KUALA LUMPUR--One the largest chat networks in the world--Undernet.org--has imposed a blanket ban on Malaysian Net users for "prolonged and extensive" abuse.
The ban was effective August 16 and applies to all chatters coming into the network from the .my domain.
A statement released on the Net suggested the ban may be permanent unless the two local ISPs Jaring and TMnet resolve the issue of abuse.
"We have tried, for over two years to negotiate in good faith with various .my ISPs, with no positive results. None of our efforts to contain the abusive users have worked," it said.
Undernet.org said previous attempts to contact the two ISPs were either ignored or only responded by an auto-responder type email, with no human follow-up or contact.
"Most recently, exploitable .my sites have been used to launch various Denial of Service attacks against Undernet.org servers, hubs and services," it said.
The statement said the attacks were draining resources and could not be tolerated any longer.
The Undernet is one of the largest real-time Internet relay chat (IRC) networks in the world, with about 45 independently-run servers connecting over 35 countries and serving more than 30,000 people daily.
The statement continued that chatters originating from .my address have previously denied access to all of the Dal.net IRC network, and the EFnet IRC network, and that Undernet was the last of the "Big 3" networks to take this step.
It encouraged users to contact their ISP administrators and "talk with their wallets" as ISPs tend to respond better that way.
In an immediate response to CNET Asia, Jaring claims it had not received any complaints from the Undernet IRC network administrators prior to this week.
"From our initial investigation of our records, we have not received any complaints from them this year except in the last few days," said Dr Mohamed Awang-Lah, vice president of Mimos, the operator of Jaring.
He said he could not speak on behalf of the other ISP, TMnet, run by telco Telekom Malaysia, but added: "It is not fair or right to blame us entirely and advertise that fact on the Net."
Dr Mohamed said, however, that Jaring was aware of the abuse and "concerned and looking into the matter." It was preparing a response to the Undernet administrators.
He suggested the abusers could be in the minority and possibly hiding being the anonymity offered by using PCs in cybercafes.
"We have terminated accounts of users before for spamming and mail bombing and other abuses," he said.
He said Jaring would deal with the abusers if they have been traced and take appropriate action even against those harbouring in cybercafes.
Dr Mohamed, however, qualified that abuse have dramatically reduced since a year ago when they were at a peak.
Last year, Jaring reportedly helped police track down four users for allegedly sending out email which suggested riots by disgruntled Indonesian migrant workers had broken out in parts of Kuala Lumpur.
The rumors caused a panic with city residents scrambling to supermarkets to buy and stock up on provisions for fear of a possible curfew, and affected the currency and stock markets.
The four people were later charged in court for spreading the rumors under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum two years' jail or fine, or both, upon conviction. Their trials are still ongoing.
Dr Mohamed said Jaring has held back from setting up its own chat servers because of the possible abuse. "The amount of resources expended to manage the servers is not worth it," he said.
He added there was no single, permanent solution to the problem and a combination of punishment, education and sustained awareness campaigns would help.
There are an estimated 1.5 million Internet users in Malaysia shared between the two ISPs. TMnet has yet to respond to CNET Asia at presstime.
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