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Azalina wants cyber laws upgraded to curb social media abuse
Published:  Jul 26, 2016 7:16 PM
Updated: 11:42 AM

De facto law minister Azalina Othman Said believes it is time for Malaysia to upgrade its cyber laws in the face of multiple threats of terrorism, cyber crime and social media abuses.

"Observing today's developments, it should be noted that social media's influence on our lives is significant," said the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in a statement today.

"While there are adequate laws, it is now time for the government to review and upgrade cyber-related legislation to curb abuses of information technology and the social media."

While there is no denying that social media is a convenient and affordable mode of communication, there seems to be an upward trend in cyber attacks as well as social media abuse, she said.

"The matter has become a major concern for the government, especially coupled with the recent threat of terrorism," she said.

Azalina said some abused social media for fraud, terror recruitment, sowing hatred towards the government and threatening national harmony.

She assured that the government does not plan to restrict freedom of expression online and the right to utilise cyberspace.

However, a re-examination of the cyber laws is needed to protect internet users from becoming victims, she said.

"This re-examination aims to find a balance between freedom and the responsibility of its internet users," said Azalina.

Her statement comes amidst concerns from freedom of speech advocates that the government is moving to control the only frontier it had so far been unable to totally keep in check.

The government had given its undertaking under the Malaysian Super Multimedia Corridor pledge that it will not censor the internet.

However, authorities have been recently active in taking down sites and arresting social media users on the grounds of "hurting the feelings" of certain people in power, or for "abusing network facilities".

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and police are already actively monitoring social media.

The government, however, insists that it is not targeting government critics but is moving against all netizens who disrupt national harmony with irresponsible postings.

Critics worry that any attempt to strengthen cyber laws may lead to a stifling of free speech and the freedom of expression.