KUALA LUMPUR – Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Mohd Salleh Tun Said Keruak said on Sunday he sees the need for a review of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) because Malaysians regard the social media and Internet as a lawless domain.
In a blog post, he said the move was considered timely as social media had become a necessary tool of everyday life that impacted not only the flow of information but finance and commerce as well.
“When the CMA was first enacted in 1998, the government did not envisage how popular the Internet would become and how rapid and widespread the usage of the social media would be,” he said.
Dr Mohd Salleh said it would not be surprising if, in the not too distant future, everything was done entirely on the Internet as what had happened in some countries where the only way to get things done was on the Internet.
Some airlines, for example, he said insisted that travellers used their Internet check-in facility, so without the Internet one could not even travel.
“What is of concern now is that the popular, and sometimes necessary, use of the Internet has also attracted various Internet crimes such as fraud, data theft, identity theft and fabrication of false news and fake documents,” he said.
Dr Mohd Salleh explained that while upholding freedom of speech and the right to information, Malaysians must also be protected, at the same time, from libel, slander and character assassination, which he said were criminal acts that appeared to have become the trend of late.
“In no country in the world does freedom of speech include the freedom to lie and slander. National security and public order are also of concern, and can be jeopardised if there are no proper controls over what people do and say,” he said.
Dr Mohd Salleh said the CMA needed to be reviewed to strike a balance between not stifling free speech and continuing with freedom of information while, at the same time, protecting Malaysians from criminal acts that appeared to have become the trend of late.
“We will, of course, obtain the opinion and feedback of those in the industry to ensure that a more holistic approach is achieved so that it meets the objective of all concerned.
“This is to assure the public that this move is not aimed at stifling free speech or at curtailing the freedom of information,” he said. – BERNAMA