Speaking in an interview with the Malaysian newspaper The Star this week, the newly appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, said the government was mulling stricter cyber laws that could include website blocking and the enforced registration of online news and information services.
Whilst denying that social media restrictions were being considered, the minister made the point that freedom of expression carries with it responsibility, commenting that there were always those who espoused the former whilst ignoring the latter.
Following a consultative initiative, the amendments to the cyber laws will probably be tabled in parliament in October this year, he said.
“I’ve been meeting Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) officials to study the proposals,” the new minister said. “We are also looking at the structural aspects of MCMC and at amendments to tackle issues such as pornography, online gambling and Islamic State threats, among others.
“This is being done in the national interest.”
Dr Salleh said the changes would include the MCMC having the power to block websites deemed as “threats to national security and stability”, and observed that the current laws were introduced in 1998, and that since then the cyber world had seen many developments.
“We must take into account these developments. Many countries also amend their cyber laws to ensure that social media does not cause problems,” he added.
The government has already announced that it is looking to introduce amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998.
“What we want to do is to improve amendments in the next Parliament meeting to strengthen our social media but at the same time, be able to control the situation,” the minister said.