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Legal Reforms to Safeguard Malaysia’s Digital Realm

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The government is set to conduct a three-month study aimed at formulating policy decisions regarding the amendment of legal provisions and the creation of new laws addressing procedures and powers to combat online crime comprehensively.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said announced that the study, inclusive of public consultations, will commence next month and involve collaboration with tech experts from local universities.

The initiative underscores the Government’s unwavering commitment to addressing online crime issues, with a primary goal of establishing a secure digital environment for the public. The study will be executed by the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) and the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC).

The decision was reached during a meeting chaired by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) and attended by key entities including the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), National Security Council (NSC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

The meeting focused on understanding the challenges posed by online crime threats, evaluating existing laws across ministries and agencies, and identifying comprehensive legal measures aligned with technological advancements.

As of 30 November 2023, reported losses exceeded RM173 million, prompting 8,213 investigation papers by NFCC, PDRM, MCMC, and BNM. These investigations covered various provisions, including the freezing of 529 accounts valued at over RM65.9 million. The Government aims to intensify its efforts to combat online crime through timely legal reforms, acknowledging the evolving nature of technology and the corresponding challenges.

Earlier, the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department reported a concerning 23% increase in online crime incidents from January to September this year compared to the same period in 2022.

The Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching revealed that there were 19,224 cases recorded during this year, a significant rise from the 15,659 cases reported in 2022. Additionally, the value of these cases surged to RM687 million, marking a 29% increase from the corresponding period last year.

The Cyber999 Help Centre operated by Cyber Security Malaysia documented 4,898 cybersecurity incidents from January to October, with online fraud constituting the majority at 3,087 incidents.

Highlighting the impact of online fraud, the Minister stressed that this issue demanded serious attention from all stakeholders due to the substantial financial losses suffered by the country. The statistics revealed that scam victims cut across various segments of Malaysian society, including professionals such as lecturers, teachers, engineers, doctors, businessmen, retirees, and senior citizens.

Connecting this information with the previous context, where the government announced a three-month study to address online crime, these alarming statistics underscore the urgency for legal reforms and comprehensive measures to combat cyber threats.

The government’s commitment to creating a safe digital environment gains added significance in light of the escalating incidents and financial losses associated with online crime.

The Minister also provided insights into the proactive measures taken by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in mitigating online threats. The MCMC not only took down 4,013 accounts and content by October 31 but also blocked 1,764 fake phishing websites during the same period. The minister further revealed that MCMC had successfully blocked a staggering 410,590,277 unsolicited SMS and terminated 79,322 mobile and terrestrial lines involved in dubious SMS activities.

The information about the ongoing National Anti-Scam Tour, which aims to raise awareness and educate the public about the risks of scams, serves as a practical extension of the government’s commitment to combating online crime. The tour, initiated in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, and subsequently conducted in other states, reflects a concerted effort to engage with communities nationwide and address the growing menace of online scams.

As the government intensifies its efforts to tackle the challenges posed by online crime, the statistics presented by Teo Nie Ching highlight the pressing need for comprehensive legal reforms and technological advancements to safeguard the digital landscape. The involvement of Cyber Security Malaysia and the MCMC in addressing cyber threats reinforces the collaborative approach needed to effectively combat online crime in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.


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