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Heightened watch over illicit drug sales online


Targeted law in the pipeline to curb sale of drugs on ecommerce platforms

PETALING JAYA: The big fight against the sale of drugs and illicit substances on ecommerce platforms is being beefed up with a specific law in the pipeline.

The drawing up of the Ecommerce Platform Supervision Bill will begin this month, with completion targeted for September next year, said Deputy Domestic Trade and Costs of Living Minister Fuziah Salleh (pic).

ALSO READ: Go tougher on online drug trade, govt urged

She said a paper on the status of the draft Bill was tabled during the meeting of the Cabinet Committee to Curb Drug Abuse chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on March 26.

“A thorough study is being conducted (on the draft),” she told The Star.

Asked what the ministry is doing in the meantime to curb the trading of such substances online, Fuziah said provisions of existing laws would be used.

“These include the Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012, Consumers Protection Act 1999 and Trade Description Act 2011,” she said.

ALSO READ: Govt to review relevant laws in light of increasing online drug sales, says Home Minister

Fuziah said the ministry is also working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to enforce the MCMC 1998 Act in relation to false content.Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had said in March that relevant laws will be reviewed due to the growing number of cases of drug transactions conducted online.

He said drug dealers are turning to online shopping and social media platforms to sell dangerous items, citing concern over the emergence of a so-called “mushroom vape”, which is not placed under the Poisons Act 1952 or the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

It was reported that prescription drugs and drug-laced vapes are being openly sold on ecommerce platforms and via social media.

ALSO READ: Govt urged to crack down on black market for medicines

The Star reported on March 10 that the Health Ministry’s Pharmacy Enforcement Division had taken down a total of 61,822 unlawful medicine advertisements from emarketplace platforms from 2019 to 2023.

The division said it monitors and investigates sellers on the Internet and issued warning letters for content removal, with legal action taken for breaches of the law.

The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime report on the use of the dark web and social media for drug supply noted that apart from the dark web, drugs were also sold on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

ALSO READ: A marketplace of illegal pharmaceuticals

Some platforms including dating sites allowed sellers to openly “advertise” their products to unknown buyers by constructing a public profile.

“Conversely, messaging platforms, both encrypted and unencrypted, facilitate more private drug transactions between people who already know one another, via direct message or within a group chat,” the UN body stated.

The two main platforms identified for drug purchases in the above study, conducted in the United States and Spain in 2018/2019, were Facebook and Instagram, it added.

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Illicit drug sales , online , Fuziah Salleh

   

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