National ICT body has more than 1,500 companies as members
Says wording in Section 114A has to be better defined and wording made clearer
THE Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom) has backed calls for a review of the controversial amendment to the Evidence Act 1950, joining a raft of concerned civil society bodies, private individuals, Internet-related businesses and leaders from both sides of the political divide.
The recent amendment, under Section 114A, has consequences for everyone who uses the Internet, whether individuals, corporations or enterprises, Pikom said in a statement to Digital News Asia.
The amendment would hold Internet users liable for any content posted via their network services or data processing devices, it noted.
Pikom represent the information and communications technology (ICT) industry in Malaysia, with a membership of more than 1,500 companies involved in a whole spectrum of ICT products and services which commands about 80% of the total ICT trade in the country.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Umno Youth chief and Rembau Member of Parliament Khairy Jamaluddin have also gone on the record to ask for a review.
“This amendment may appear to lower the bar for the prosecution of potentially innocent parties,” said Pikom president Shaifubahrim Saleh (pic), echoing their concerns.
“Individuals and corporations would have to be more vigilant about any posting or content appearing on their website or social media channels.
“It is the ‘shifting of burden of fact on the defendant’ that is most concerning -- albeit it is not a presumption of guilt and rightly pointed out by some in the legal fraternity that such ‘presumption of fact’ existed in some legislation such as the Dangerous Drug Act),” he said.
However, he also noted the wording in Section 114A “does infer a presumption of guilt until proven innocent, especially to the layman.
“The average individual or even some corporations may not have the resources to defend or prove against such allegations or liability,” said Shaifubahrim.
Pikom said it recognizes the importance and need in ensuring Internet users refrain from abusing or defaming and spreading falsehood.
Shaifubahrim, while acknowledging that the freedom that comes with the Internet must be exercised with great accountability, said the wording in Section 114A should be made clearer and better defined.
Many citizens, websites, blogs and news portals are taking part in an Internet “Blackout” Day today, Aug 14, to show their support for a review or revocation of Section 114A in a campaign spearheaded by the Center of Independent Journalism (CIJ).
Among them are the Bar Council, political party the DAP and its leader Lim Kit Siang, human rights lawyer Edmund Bon, noted activists and bloggers such as Marina Mahathir, Hishamuddin Rais Uppercaise, Nat Tan, Niki Cheong, Anil Netto, Juana Jaafar, Sarawak Bloggers, Fahmi Fadzil and myasylum.
CIJ said the Internet Blackout Day pop-up is also supported by news sites Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini, Digital News Asia, The Nut Graph, bfm, Merdeka Review, and party organ news sites Harakah Daily and Keadilan Daily.
“The Blackout Day has also received international attention ― highlighted in tweets by popular whistle-blower WikiLeaks and global digital freedom NGO Access Now,” the CIJ said in a statement.
Internet users who visit participating websites today will see a pop-up window that will contain the message of the campaign. In addition, users may also change their profile pictures/avatar on Twitter and Facebook to black or use downloadable images provided by CIJ.
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