Malaysian Communications and Multi­media Commission

Bread & Kaya: Sharing images of crime victims

Bread & Kaya: Sharing images of crime victims

Nov 01, 2013

– No doubt the dissemination of gruesome images is distasteful and disrespectful of victims and their families
– However, when the MCMC cited legislation against it, the industry regulator may have been stretching it

Bread & Kaya by Foong Cheng Leong

IT was with great interest that I read the following Facebook posting by industry regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC):

Assalamu’alaikum dan Selamat Sejahtera,

Orang ramai dinasihatkan untuk tidak menyebarkan gambar dan rakaman CCTV pembunuhan kejam seorang pegawai bank atau gambar-gambar mangsa di mana-mana media sosial seperti Facebook dan Whatsapp .

Jika anda telah berbuat demikian sila padamkan post tersebut. Ini adalah untuk menghormati mangsa dan keluarga beliau. Ia mungkin juga mengakibatkan gangguan emosi kepada orang ramai terutamanya kanak-kanak.

Kami telah pun meminta kerjasama YouTube untuk mengeluarkan video berkenaan dengan seberapa segera.

Untuk makluman, penyebaran gambar dan video sebegini adalah suatu kesalahan di bawah Seksyen 211 dan 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998. Jika didapati bersalah, denda yang dikenakan tidak melebihi RM50,000 dan satu tahun penjara atau kedua-duanya sekali.

Sekian, terima kasih

In brief, the MCMC stated that the dissemination of gruesome images or video recordings of crime victims is an offence under the ss. 211 and 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). Reference was made to the CCTV recording of the deadly shooting of Ambank officer Norazita Abu Talib.

There is no doubt that the dissemination of such gruesome recordings and images is distasteful and disrespectful of the victim and her family. But for the MCMC to state that it is an offence under ss.211 and 233 of the CMA is stretching the applicability of these laws too far.

For there to be an offence under s. 233 of the CMA, the case of PP v Rutinin Bin Suhaimin has clearly set out that the following ingredients must be proven:

– The accused person initiated the communication in question.
– The communication in question is either indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character; and
– The accused had intention to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.

Section 211 of the CMA is similar to s. 233 of the CMA.

A person who posted the offensive materials must have the intention to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person. I doubt the people who have shared such images or recording had such intentions. Perhaps bloggers or portals that had done so had the intention to gain more visitors. Or perhaps some netizens share them to satisfy the morbid curiosities of other netizens.

But certainly this is not an intention to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.

In short, the dissemination of gruesome recording and images is not an offence under ss.211 and 233 of the CMA unless it was disseminated with an intention to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.

No doubt it is a calamity to have images of your late loved ones being disseminated online; but there are other laws to govern the dissemination of such information. Section 292 of the Penal Code makes it an offence to disseminate obscene material. The person who caused the leak of gruesome image (e.g. autopsy pictures) could be subject to a civil suit for negligence.

Even the soon-to-be introduced law s. 203A of the Penal Code, which punishes, among others, a civil servant for disclosing information obtained by him in his performance of his functions with a fine of not more than RM1 million (US$317,000), or imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or both.

However, I do not think that Parliament should introduce a law to curb the dissemination of gruesome recording of victims, especially if there are benefits of doing so. For example, for education purposes (e.g. study of forensic science) or even to highlight the extent of injuries suffered by inmates due to alleged police brutality.

The purpose of this article is not to justify the dissemination of gruesome images or videos but to highlight the extent of our laws. The MCMC should ensure that its statement, in particular, the last paragraph, is accurate and not leave room for misinterpretation.

First published on Digital News Asia on 16 August 2013

Big NO to more social media control

I was quoted by The Star in their article “Big NO to more social media control” on 14 June 2013.

My opinion on the privacy is based on a South Korean case which held that a law requiring South Koreans to use their real names on Internet forums was unconstitutional.

Big NO to more social media control

PETALING JAYA: Internet users and even government regulators have responded with a resounding “No” to additional restrictions on social media, saying current laws are sufficient.

The Malaysian Communications and Multi­media Commission chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi said the bigger issue is about educating Internet users to self-regulate.

“I’m not for putting in more laws. I’m for putting control in their own hands and exercising self-control,” he said when contacted.

If people are responsible enough not to post irresponsible messages on the Internet, there should not be anything to worry about, he added.

“This is what MCMC has been advocating for a long time.

“Parents have to take care of what their children are reading on the Internet and people also have to know for themselves what is right and wrong,” he said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak asked the public to suggest the type of “positive regulation”.

“I want to open this to the public and social media users to suggest the type of positive control that we need to implement to ensure responsible usage and that the information presented is not against any law,” he said at the Malaysian MPI-Petronas Media Awards 2012.

He also said that the Government will not be implementing restrictions on online news portals similar to those in Singapore, where popular ones have to be licensed.

Technology and IT patent lawyer Foong Cheng Leong said that the current laws were enough.

“Any further attempt to make anonymous bloggers or social media users reveal their true identities will be unconstitutional,” he said.

Citing a Federal Court ruling, he said the Constitution which provides for the right to personal liberty also includes the right to privacy.

He added that bloggers and Internet users found to be committing illegal acts can always be charged under existing laws.

At present, conduct on the Internet is governed by the Penal Code, the Multimedia and Communications Act, Sedition Act and Defamation Act among others.

Foong added that technology alone enables the Government and the authorities to trace anonymous website owners and users.

“If the Malaysian Government has a good relationship with countries where social media sites operate from, the users are easily traceable,” he said.

Popular blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan who owns the blog also echoed the view that it would be impractical for more regulations.

“We should tell people that it’s fine that they have the freedom of expression, but there are limits to what we can do and say,” he said.

At the same time, he said that he had always expressed the view that bloggers should not be anonymous and that they should be accountable for what they write.

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