PHOTO - Shaifubahrim Saleh, president, PIKOM (National ICT Association of Malaysia)
The Malaysian government's recent amendments made to the Evidence Act 1950 have consequences for everyone who uses the Internet in Malaysia, including corporations, enterprises and individuals, said The National ICT Association of Malaysia (PIKOM).
In a statement on 13 August 2012, PIKOM president Shaifubahrim Saleh said the amendments to the passed Evidence (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2012 would hold Internet users liable for any content posted via their network services or data processing devices.
"This amendment may appear to lower the bar for the prosecution of potentially innocent parties," said Shaifubahrim. "The amendments made to the Evidence Act 1950 have also created repercussions on individuals, corporations and society as a whole."
"The individuals or corporations would have to be more vigilant on any postings or contents appearing on their website or social media," he said. "Information on the Internet must be sensibly used as the post is open to everyone."
"It is the 'shifting of burden of fact on the defendant' that is most concerning (albeit it is not a presumption of guilt and rightly pointed out by some in the legal fraternity that such 'presumption of fact' existed in some legislation such as the Dangerous Drug Act)," said Shaifubahrim. "From the wordings it does infer a presumption of guilt until proven innocent, especially to the lay man. The average individual or even some corporations may not have the resources to defend or prove against such allegations or liability."
"PIKOM recognised the importance and need in ensuring Internet users refrain from abusing or defaming and spreading falsehood," he said, and pointed out that 'the freedom that comes with the Internet must be exercised with great accountability; nevertheless the wordings of the act should be made clearer and well-defined."
Section 114A's "The presumption of fact"
The amendment, Section 114A, which explains 'presumption of fact in publication,' states that:
(1) A person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.
(2) A person who is registered with a network service provider as a subscriber of a network service on which any publication originates from is presumed to be the person who published or re-published the publication unless the contrary is proved.
(3) Any person who has in his custody or control any computer on which any publication originates from is presumed to have published or re-published the content of the publication unless the contrary is proved. (Computer here means any data processing device, including tablets, laptops and mobile phones.)
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