Malaysia's Evidence Act puts Web users at risk

An official with country's cybersecurity agency says new law means local Internet users might be involved in lawsuits should hackers use their Web sites or Wi-Fi account for illegal activities, report notes.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

Malaysia's recently-amended Evidence Act may result in innocent Internet users and public Wi-Fi providers being falsely prosecuted for illegal online activities should they fall victim to hackers.

Malaysia-based The Starreported on Thursday that the Evidence Act now places the burden of proof on Internet account holders, and this puts Web users, particularly those that do not secure their personal accounts, at risk of falling afoul of the law without them knowing it.

Cybersecurity Malaysia CEO Husin Jazri said in the report: "It doesn't take an expert to hack into personal accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail...any computer-literate person can learn how to do it."

The national cybersecurity specialist center, which operates under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti), stated that an average of eight personal accounts, blogs and Web sites, are hacked daily in Malaysia.

Another local news agencyThe Sun Daily also reported in May that the amended Evidence Act, specifically Section 114A, will put local Internet users at risk.

It noted that if an anonymous person posts content said to be offensive on an innocent user's Facebook page, or if the person piggybacks on a person's Wi-Fi account to commit illegal activities, it will be account holders that will be deemed the offender and subject to prosecution under relevant laws such as the Sedition Act, it stated. 

Additionally, if a person starts a blog using another's name and publishes content that is offensive, the latter party will be considered the publisher of said content unless it can be proved otherwise.

A separate report by online news site Malaysia Kini on Thursday noted that public Wi-Fi providers may fall victim to the Act as well.

Larger eateries in the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, are required to provide Wi-Fi services as a prerequisite for license application and renewal, it noted. This, in turn, means these businesses might be liable for illegal activities conducted on their networks.

The amended legislation prompted local radio producer Jeff Sandhu to speak out. He said in the report: "If you are running a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and, by law, you are required to have public Wi-Fi, you might as well walk to jail or walk to the cops and say, 'Arrest me!'"

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