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NGO wants gov’t to respect online freedoms, privacy

 | January 12, 2016

Empower expresses concern over plans to monitor WhatsApp, arguing it constitutes spying on private communications between individuals and is a violation of privacy.

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor

PETALING JAYA: Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) has raised concerns over the authorities’ plans to monitor instant messaging app, WhatsApp.

In a press statement, its president, Janarthani Arumugam said it was worrying that Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar mentioned WhatsApp as one of the social media platforms to be monitored due to its abuse by some of its users.

“WhatsApp is an instant messaging application intended for exchanges between users, not a social media platform.

“To monitor WhatsApp would constitute spying on private communications between individuals, a violation of the rights to privacy and protection against arbitrary interference.”

Janarthani said it was unclear as to how the police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) intended to monitor social media and WhatsApp users as well as how the data collected would be used.

She said these questions including the scale, scope and methods of monitoring, must be answered.

“Monitoring by public officials, or state surveillance, is one of the biggest threats to online freedoms and a severe invasion of privacy,” she said, adding that speaking freely without fear of being watched was the essential right of every Malaysian.

She said that the government routinely justified restrictions and criminalisation of freedom of expression in the name of “public order and national security”, citing the prosecution of Azmi Sharom over his comments on the Perak constitutional crisis.

Janarthani said that the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 20/8 adopted in 2012, reaffirmed that human rights be protected online, in particular the freedom of expression.

“Empower urges the police and MCMC to uphold our rights to freedom of expression and privacy both online and offline, and to end the criminalisation of legitimate expression.”

Earlier today, Khalid, in announcing a crackdown on immature social media users, said the police would work with MCMC to monitor social media sites, including WhatsApp.


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