Guilty until proven innocent amendments from June 1
Pervasive technology would make this impossible
SO, I am puzzled. I am perplexed. Why? Because none other than the chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, seems quite casual towards the concerns we ordinary mortals have over the sinister amendments to the Evidence Act.
Before I get into that, a quick background on the issue. The amendments to the Evidence Act 1950 basically stipulate that an individual who owns any digital property, be it blog or social media account, is liable for any potentially offensive comments originating from those properties and accounts.
As my colleague Edwin Yapp reported in his analysis earlier, the implications of these amendments have the effect of reversing the burden of proof in both criminal and civil cases.
Guilty! Until you can prove yourself innocent, is the new game in town. I can just imagine litigation lawyers doing the bhangra in anticipation of the avalanche of business headed their way. Law schools too.
Back to Sharil, who says that those with any digital properties where offensive messages were sent from could simply rebut the charges if they proved false.
“If you can produce witnesses to say that you were nowhere near your computer or any other communicating device at the time the message was sent out, you can get off,” he says, according to The Star.
Phew. That’s sweet to know. I sure don’t want to burden our overcrowded court system with my case if some nasty soul out there wants to have some fun with me and sends vulgar, seditious, defamatory, inflammatory, racial, sexist (think I’ve got everything covered) posts from my digital properties.
Sharil goes on to say that it is not easy nailing offenders (that would be me?) to the charge. “Sometimes you can find evidence and sometimes you can't.”
“At least now (with the amendment), a flat denial cannot work anymore,” he adds.
Since the timeless “it was not me, la” won’t be enough anymore at least I should be comforted by Sharil’s contention that I can easily squash any nasty accusation levelled against me by just producing witnesses to confirm that I was not near any digital communication device.
I have a small problem with that though. I am not sure when this happened, but my mobile has become an unwelcomed but totally critical appendage of my body. Try as I may, the darn thing is always either next to me or in my pants or in my hands! Even my den of zen has been breached by this digital communication device.
So, how la? Even my wife and kids will say that the mobile is always near me. It’s me against the world. Am I doomed? I hope they have extra-long bunks in prison!
A devilishly devious person need not even break into my digital properties in the wee hours of the morning when all are deep in never-never land with nary a witness awake. Because you still need to prove that you were not near a digital communications device to maintain your innocence. But my phone doubles as my alarm, has been since 2002.
I am a sitting duck, aren’t I?
But wait a minute, haven’t I just described most of us, even Sharil?
So, should we get all paranoid now?