Focus on real crimes, not social media posts, MCMC told

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PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today took the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to task for “policing social media” instead of focusing on issues such as the recent data leak involving the personal information of over 46 million people.

The group’s executive director Eric Paulsen said instead of wasting valuable resources trying to rein in “insulting” remarks against Prime Minister Najib Razak and other personalities, MCMC should be focusing on “real crimes” and issues like fraud and data security.

In a statement, he gave the example of Mohamad Hamizan Ghazali, 24, who was sentenced to four months’ jail on Nov 17 for posting a cartoon deemed insulting to Najib.

“He is the latest in a string of many Malaysians who were unnecessarily arrested or prosecuted for frivolous social media offences under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for ‘improper use of network facilities’.

“It is extremely irresponsible for MCMC to keep investigating such social media postings when these are not real crimes, but mere political or social remarks that are none of MCMC’s business,” he said.

Paulsen also said MCMC had been “lackadaisical” in investigating the issue, which was first reported by lowyat.net on Oct 19.

He said MCMC had responded to the matter by ordering the site to take down the article and blocking another site, sayakenahack.com, which was set up to enable individuals to check if their personal data had been compromised.

“Unless MCMC can inform the public otherwise, they have been hopelessly incompetent and ineffectual in addressing the biggest data breach in Malaysia’s history and instead seem to be doing their best to stop others from addressing the issue,” he said.

Paulsen asked what MCMC had done to ensure that the personal data stored on public and commercial websites was secured.

“Did these websites and MCMC know about the breach earlier but fail to inform the public or their customers?

“MCMC should also be updating the public from time to time regarding the progress of their investigation instead of keeping a general silence on the matter.”

Paulsen said MCMC needed to go “back to basics” and get its priorities right in order to be the professional, impartial and competent regulatory body for the communications and multimedia industry.