KUALA LUMPUR: Existing laws involving fake news will not be repealed, but instead be read together with the newly proposed act when it is tabled in Parliament. The new law will strengthen existing acts, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said.

“The act will, in general, also address loopholes in existing laws,” MCMC network security, new media monitoring, compliance and advocacy sector chief officer Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said, giving an insight into the new law.

“There is a need for a new law, as many existing ones are outdated. Every new law is formulated according to current needs,” he said, adding that the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 was 20 years old.

“The situation was different during that time. We had the Internet, but the spread of information was not as robust as now. We didn’t have social media platforms, such as Whatsapp, Telegram or Instagram.”

MCMC is one of the stakeholders whose representative sits in a special committee formed to look into related laws and new provisions on fake news.

Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek

Other stakeholders include the police, Attorney-General’s Chambers, National Security Council, Communications and Multimedia Ministry, Legal Affairs Division, non-governmental organisations and members of parliament.

Fadhlullah said the proposed act could be “a critical tool” in containing or stopping fake news.

“Fake news is an issue that we have to look into as it can threaten our economy, and harm individuals, organisations and institutions.

“We have experienced difficulties when dealing with fake news that involves businesses or those affecting our economy.

“Victims can lodge reports with the authorities.

“The process that is needed to take action may take a long time and, by then, the fake news would have made a huge dent on businesses or the economy.”

The new law might expedite the investigation process and control the negative effects of the fake news.

CyberSecurity Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abd Wahab said fake news not only affected public order, but also tarnished the reputation of individuals and organisations.

“There are other parties that have given their suggestions, including the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), academicians from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the International Islamic University Malaysia, and even the media.

“As an organisation that specialises in cybersecurity, our experience shows that fake news will affect not only public order and national security, but can also smear one’s image, intrude on one’s privacy and damage the reputation of an organisation.”

He said the agency stressed the importance of adopting best practices when surfing the net.

“People love to share whatever they read, so we advise readers to verify the information and give due consideration before sharing it. Even if the information is true, if it tarnishes one’s reputation, then it should not be shared,” he said, adding that portal sebenarnya.my was one of the ways readers could verify widely-shared information.

When opening the sixth session of the 13th Parliament early this month, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong expressed full support for the proposal to formulate laws to address fake news and slander on social media.

“Social media has a significant influence in shaping the values and culture of society. All parties should play their role to safeguard good character and moral values in society,” His Majesty said.

He said the threats to peace and security of the country were real and manifested in various forms.

“We urge all parties to take preventive measures and the enforcement authorities to combat this threat more effectively.”

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