Govt to tighten CMA 98 by next year to combat fake news, says Gobind

  • Nation
  • Monday, 02 Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: There are plans to amend Section 223 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 next year, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (pic).

"We are currently looking at how best to tighten the fake news law and hope to do it between March and June next year," he said when answering a supplementary question raised by R.S.N Rayer (PH-Jelutong) in Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Dec 2).

He said that the ministry is currently reviewing the law before amendments are made.

He added the issue of fake news is a challenge faced not only by authorities in Malaysia, but a problem faced by other countries as well.

He noted that several countries such as Singapore and Australia had recently introduced laws to deal with fake news.

Rayer had asked if laws would be amended to deal with fake news, particularly those against the government.

Earlier when answering a question raised by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera), Gobind said that 78% out of 3,877 fake online social media accounts were removed by platform service providers between 2018 and September this year.

"Apart from this, a total of 1,564 URLs (webpages) and their contents containing elements of cyber bullying and hate were referred to social media platform providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and YouTube.

"Of this, 63% were erased based on the terms and conditions including community standards of the platform service providers," he added.

On Oct 9, Dewan Rakyat voted to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act for a second time, after the first attempt was defeated in Dewan Negara in September last year.

There have been calls for a review of Section 223, as it is deemed too wide, ambiguous and outdated.

The section deals with online comments, requests, suggestions or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.

Last December, Gobind said Pakatan Harapan had agreed to impose a moratorium on draconian laws, which includes Section 223.

However, he said the law would still be used if it involves issues of national security, public order and race relations.

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