'Kill switch' law in the works to stop scam transactions, Parliament told

KUALA LUMPUR: A new law is being drafted to have a "kill switch" mechanism in place that will immediately terminate scam-related transactions, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) said existing laws are outdated and insufficient to deal with this form of crime.

"There is an urgent need to legislate a 'kill switch' that will immediately stop scam activities on any online domain or platform in Malaysia.

"The government is drafting a new Bill for this procedure and enforcement to improve digital safety," Azalina told Suhaizan Kaiat (PH-Pulai) in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 27).

She said such a law was needed in light of rapid developments in cybercrime.

"Many of our current laws were enacted before 2010 and are way behind.

"If we compare our current laws to a car, they are like a derelict bicycle.

"That is why we need to amend the law, not just substantively but also procedurally, to help deal with the problem we are facing today," she said.

Apart from the kill-switch law, Azalina said amendments to other laws such as the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code were being considered to allow money to be returned to scam victims.

At present, she said banks have safeguards in place to prevent customers from falling victim to online scams.

She noted that between Oct 12, 2022 and Jan 31 this year, the National Scam Response Centre recorded 71,631 calls with losses amounting to RM245.1mil to online scams.

Azalina also suggested a briefing for MPs on how online scammers operate.

She said this was because she herself had received scam calls that sounded convincing.

"I am sure each one of us in the House has received such calls.

"I have had callers claiming to be from the 'police' or 'magistrates' saying that action was being taken against me or that I would be made bankrupt," she said.

She added that MPs would then be able to better educate their constituents on the dangers of online scams.

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