Bolstering Legislation to Crack Down on Tech-Enabled Wrongdoings

Dear EITN readers,

I’m Associate Prof Col(R) Dato’ Ts Dr Husin Jazri of ESPC and here is my open letter to all of you. 

The push for Asian countries to become digitized has been further expedited by the Covid-19 pandemic, where it forced every individual from across the world to take most of their activities online.  With so much time spent online, the cyber space is quickly becoming a breeding ground for scams, harassment, bullying, crimes, and attacks to escalate. 

Statistics show a frightening rising trend, and the increase is astounding, which is why I feel the recent announcement that the government is in the process of preparing recommendations related to cybersecurity laws, should be lauded. 

To date, there are no cybersecurity-specific laws in Malaysia, which makes the recommendations that will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting soon monumental.  

To my knowledge, all this while, enforcement agencies like the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA), have relied on existing legislation, such as the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998, the Defamation Act 1957 and the Sedition Act 1948, to combat cyber threats. But with this recommendation, it is my hope that the cyber sphere can be better monitored to safeguard the country and its people better. 

With over 30 years experience in cybersecurity and being the the founder of Cyber Security Malaysia (CSM) as well as the initiators of many cybersecurity projects in Malaysia, I feel this recommendation couldn’t have come at a better time because globally we are all a connected society and any threat or attack in a different part of the world will have a domino effect on the rest of us. 

This move is timely as the country is on the fast track to becoming a fully digitized nation and introducing specific laws to address cybersecurity would help the government at large as well as the people and the industries of this country. While making Malaysia equally competitive and an attractive destination for cybersecurity businesses. 

But I feel, laws alone will not be sufficient. What we need to do is, in addition to coming up with cyber-security centric laws, look to Australia and emulate them in their move to creating an e-safety commission. Australia is the world’s first to establish a regulator dedicated to online safety. It is known as the eSafety Commissioner.

Why do we need e-safety commission? 

It would be an agency solely committed to keeping citizens safer online.

A commission would strive to deliver comprehensive, compassionate and citizen-focused services, where it would focus on key areas that would be underpinned by a strategic goal and implemented by a range of well-tested tactics and activities. 

The purpose of an authority body would help safeguard Malaysians at risk from online harms and to promote safer, more positive online experiences. And it would lead and coordinate the online safety efforts of government, industry and the not-for-profit community in Malaysia.

A commission would continuously develop proactive strategies and solutions to keep Malaysians safer online.

I share the government’s ambition to make Malaysia one of the safest places in the world for consumers to use smart technology and this must be backed up by strong enforcement and laws ensuring people can get effective redress when they purchase devices, services and solutions that fail to meet security standards and leave them exposed to data breaches and scams.

It is my opinion that trust in technology and the laws that govern it, is a key issue of the current times and cybersecurity laws are the fundamental building block to achieve this. I am positive that this new laws/legislation on cybersecurity will tackle outstanding issues plaguing businesses and consumers. 

Through the introduction of cybersecurity laws, I hope we can aim to build a resilient infrastructure; create a safer cyberspace environment; develop a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem; and  strengthen international partnerships.

Thank you for your time in reading my message on an issue close to my heart. 

IT BYTES BACK! says…: Rather than waiting for a crackdown from regulators, we must establish a E-Safety Commission and take the lead in protecting the community from bad actors.