Laws to be amended to tackle cyber crime

KUALA LUMPUR - Thee government plans to amend several laws to effectively deal with cyber crime offences.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail (Photo) said the Attorney-General's Chambers was compelled to push for the amendments as the provisions of the present laws were insufficient to nab cyber crime offenders who have resorted to different modus operandi due to evolving technological advancements.

Among the laws identified for amendments and to be incepted with new provisions to fight cyber crime are the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act 1950, Computer Crimes Act 1997 and Cyber Crimes Act 2003.

"A division established early this year to look into the matter is on its last leg of gathering information and studying practices by other countries to weed out cyber crime offenders.

"The division is also looking into the pitfalls of these practices to avoid similar situations from happening in this country before coming up with recommendations for the amendments.

"However, no legislation lasts forever in the fight against cyber crime offenders due to the continuous evolution in technology.

"Thus, we need to keep on looking into ways to curb the spread of offences in cyber space," he said after officiating a three-day seminar on cyber crime enforcement and legislation in Bandar Baru Bangi, near here yesterday.

The seminar, which ends on Friday, aims to educate enforcement agencies dealing with cyber crime on the framework adopted by the Convention of Cyber Crime, also known as the Budapest Convention.

At present, 30 countries have signed and acceded to the framework of the convention to streamline national laws pertaining to computer and Internet crime.

While Malaysia has yet to accede to the framework, Gani said the amendments to the laws, expected to be incorporated by the end of this year, would nevertheless adopt the practices and enforcement techniques of the Budapest Convention.

On whether there was a need for a specific legislation to be drafted, Gani said this was unnecessary as the present laws only needed to be tweaked.

"The amendments would not necessarily linger around the severity of the punishment, but also ways to enhance our enforcement to bust offenders.

"We will consult all parties, including telecommunication service providers, before we proceed with the amendments," he said, adding that cyber crime needed to be addressed urgently.

On the Budapest Convention framework, Gani said he would only advise the government to accede to it after the cyber laws identified had been amended.

On another matter, Gani said he had yet to receive any proposal to abolish the Sedition Act 1948.

"I have yet to receive any draft or proposal over the matter," he said when asked on a statement by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar that a copy of the proposal had been submitted to him for a review.

Gani also corrected views suggesting that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, also known as Sosma, promotes preventive detention.

"Sosma was designed only for the purpose of investigation where one would be detained to facilitate investigation.

"This is against the principle of preventive detention where a person is detained on the instruction of a minister without trial.

"I will never agree with any form of law which allows preventive detention.

"There is a maxim in law which states that it is better to let nine guilty people go free rather than to convict one innocent man."

On the National Harmony Act, which will be introduced soon to foster peace and religious tolerance in the community, Gani said the draft of the bill was at its "last stage".

Bloggers, in an immediate reaction, threw their support behind the move to amend laws to curb cyber crime.

Prominent blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan, who runs the blog Rocky's Bru, said enforcement was critical to curb cyber crime.

"If the law is amended to stop child pornography, nab paedophiles or those who commit cyber financial crimes, then I am all for it.

"Certainly, there is a need for more stringent laws to protect unsuspecting victims.

"We also need to know what triggered all this. What are the attorney-general's main concerns?

"Has there been a rise in financial con jobs, child pornography or is it to expose the anonymity of cyber users?"

However, he cautioned against making amendments to suppress political views.

"I am pretty sure that the A-G is a reasonable guy and hope he will not suggest amendments that can suppress political opinions."

Singing the same tune was Firdaus Abdullah, of Apanama blog, who said he was supportive of laws that would put a stop to cyber criminal offences.

"It's the right thing to do and I think this is what the public wants. My only hope is that there is no abuse in the enforcement of the laws later on."