Press Statement

MCMC must prioritise internet and data security

21 November 2017

Lawyers for Liberty view with extreme concern the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities especially the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in handling the massive personal data breach involving more than 46 million mobile phone users and from other websites.

The data breach was first reported by on 19 October 2017, after according to the website, MCMC did not respond to them informing MCMC of the data breach. MCMC’s reaction was to order to take down the article, which the website duly complied. In addition, MCMC has also blocked that was set up to enable individuals to check if their personal information has 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 seemed to be doing their best to stop others from addressing the issue.

Questions surely must be asked regarding MCMC’s role in this massive data breach estimated to have taken place between 2012 and 2015. What have MCMC done to ensure that the personal data stored on public and commercial websites are secured? Did these websites and MCMC know about the breach earlier but failed 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.

On the other hand, MCMC seemed to be more enthusiastic in policing social media, regularly arresting and prosecuting individuals for ‘offensive’ remarks on Facebook and Twitter.

On 17 November 2017, Mohamad Hamizan Ghazali, 24, was sentenced to 4 months’ imprisonment, for posting a cartoon that was deemed insulting to the Prime Minister. He is the latest in a string of many Malaysians who were unnecessarily arrested or prosecuted for frivolous social media offence under section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for ‘improper use of network facilities’.

It is extremely irresponsible for the 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.

We call on the MCMC to go back to basics – be the professional, impartial and competent regulatory body for the communications and multimedia industry. In order to do so, MCMC must get their priorities right. Instead of wasting valuable resources in trying to rein in ‘insulting’ remarks against the Prime Minister and other personalities, MCMC should be focusing on real crimes and issues like fraud and data security.

Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty