Social media platforms deemed a threat may be regulated, says Deputy Comms Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Social media platforms deemed a danger to the nation's well-being may be regulated, says Teo Nie Ching.

The Deputy Communications and Digital Minister said that such a move may be necessary if stricter laws under the Communications and Multimedia Act fail to deal with the growing problem.

"There is a proposal to increase the penalty under Section 233 under the Act.

"However, if we feel that at the end of the day, it (social media platforms) are still a dangerous matter, we will study how it can be regulated," she said when replying a supplementary question raised Datuk Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar) in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (March 13).

Mohd Shahar wanted to know if there are plans to amend the Section 211 and 223 of the Act to give the authorities power to act against those spreading fake news on social media.

"It is the same answer given by the deputy minister, saying that the Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has no power to act under these provisions," Mohd Shahar said.

Teo said that a study is being done on proposed amendments to Section 233 to give the MCMC more power to act.

She added that the amendments also included increasing the penalties under the Act.

Section 211 and 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act regulates offensive online content and both carry a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both upon conviction.

To a question by Afnan Hamimi Taib Azamudden (PN-Alor Setar), Teo said that the MCMC has no power to close fake accounts on social media platforms such as Facebook or TikTok but can request the providers to do so.

She said a request would be made to the platform service providers to close such accounts for spewing fake news or being used to operate online scams.

Based on laws in their respective countries, she noted that the platform service providers may not be bound to reveal the identity of the owners of the fake accounts.

"We are having more engagement with the social platform media providers so that they will better understand the situation and context of what is happening in our country.

"We must build mutual trust with them so that they will give us wider cooperation," she added.

Earlier, Teo informed the House that Malaysians, including the youths, have a right to criticise and voice their opinions.

However, she said that the freedom of expression must be done within the boundaries of the law.

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