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Empowering Cybersecurity: Malaysia’s Digital Safety Bill

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The Legal Affairs Division has taken a significant step forward in addressing cybercrime with the preparation of a working draft for the Digital Safety Bill 2023, as announced by Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform). This draft, serving as an initial framework, aligns with the vision of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and aims to keep pace with evolving technological landscapes.

Image credits: Bernama

Azalina revealed these developments during the Working Committee Meeting on the Drafting of New Laws Related to Cybercrime No. 2/2024, co-chaired by her and Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil at the Parliament building.

Stressing the necessity of specific procedural legislation to tackle existing and potential challenges posed by technological advancements, Azalina highlighted the imperative to prepare for the continuous evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to maintain a proactive stance against cyber threats.

The meeting, attended by Deputy Communications Minister Teo Nie Ching and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) M. Kulasegaran, underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing cybersecurity measures and ensuring the safety and integrity of digital spaces in the nation.

On June 15 last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the National Cyber Security Committee agreed to expedite the formulation of the Cyber Security Bill to ensure all relevant aspects of the legislation are finalised.

Later in November, the Cabinet tentatively approved the drafting of the Cybersecurity Bill, prioritising regulatory authority and law enforcement, with Prime Minister Anwar highlighting plans to reinforce the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) as the primary national cybersecurity entity and implementer of the proposed legislation.

Prime Minister Anwar emphasised the bill’s aim to establish a comprehensive cybersecurity law to complement existing regulations, a sentiment conveyed by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan during a session on the Cybersecurity Bill.

The significant number of cyber incidents reported by the National Cyber Coordination and Control Center (NC4) and NACSA underscores the urgent requirement for strengthened cybersecurity protocols. In light of cyberspace’s escalating importance in national security and geopolitical realms, Prime Minister Anwar highlighted the escalating threat of cyber warfare, citing concerns over cybersecurity vulnerabilities such as information leakage, cybercrime, and the exploitation of technological weaknesses by actors with geopolitical agendas.

The Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy (MCSS) 2020-2024, comprising five core pillars, 12 strategies, and 35 action plans, outlines the nation’s cybersecurity agenda, including legislative initiatives like the Cybersecurity Bill, capacity building for cybersecurity professionals, fostering public-private collaboration, and enhancing international relations.

Minister Azalina Said, in collaboration with Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, spearheaded a crucial Working Committee Meeting on Cybercrime Legislation Drafting in Kuala Lumpur in February this year. Attended by representatives from multiple ministries and agencies, this gathering underscored the government’s concerted effort to address cyber threats comprehensively.

During the meeting, Minister Azalina emphasised the imperative need for new legislation to combat cybercrime effectively, aligning with the Madani government’s commitment to bolstering cybersecurity measures nationwide. With the pervasive influence of online services in modern life, she highlighted the escalating threat posed by cybercrime and advocated for proactive strategies to mitigate its impact.

Against the backdrop of Malaysia’s existing legal framework governing cybersecurity, including laws such as the Computer Crimes Act 1997 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Minister Azalina stressed the necessity of the Cyber Security Bill. This proposed legislation seeks to establish a robust legal framework to safeguard digital infrastructure and protect citizens’ online activities in the face of evolving cyber threats.


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