Data protection remains top priority for government

Security will is the top most priority in relation to data, infrastructure and other related matters, says minister


Malaysia will prioritise public’s data and information security as claims surfaced that Facebook has instituted a lobbying plan to influence global politicians including in Malaysia, to object any unfriendly legislation against the tech giant.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the government’s top priority remains the privacy and security of its citizens despite the many approaches of ideas and suggestions made by the public sector.

“The government welcomes investment ideas with regard to technological developments, but all discussions or negotiations will uphold the interest and the security of the people,” he said after officiating the Cyberjaya Infra Conference and exhibition 2019 yesterday.

He was commenting on the UK-based newspaper The Guardian’s report that the US-based social media platform has targeted politicians from scores of countries, promising investments and incentives in return for their objections to any pieces of data privacy legislation.

The report was backed by Facebook’s internal document of secret global lobbying ope- ration to procure influence in Malaysia, the UK, US, Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil, and all 28 states of the European Union.

The document also includes details of how Facebook would and have threatened to withhold investment from countries unless they supported or enacted Facebook-friendly laws.

Up to press time, Facebook has not commented on the claims.

“Our position is very clear. We are formulating policies when it comes to data and information security,” Gobind said.

He said security will is the top most priority in relation to data, infrastructure and other related matters.

“Any discussions that take place will be held with that (security) in the background,” Gobind said.

On the 5G technology application, he said Putrajaya and Cyberjaya would be the country’s test bed beginning April for a period of six months.

Gobind said the government could not ignore that the world is moving towards 5G.

“This is something which we need to embrace, think carefully, adopt as far as we possibly can,” he said.

“Having said that, security concern again, is at the top most of the government’s consideration,” he said adding that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is conducting a study on the matter.

“We want to provide infrastructure that is accessible, of high quality, at reasonable cost. But at the same time, we want to provide an infrastructure that is secure.

“The government is looking into this seriously, and when I have the information with me through reports prepared by MCMC, a decision will be made,” he said.

The 5G trials are aimed at exploring the practical uses and modes of implementation and related policies, regulations and spectrum planning.

The minister also noted that there are plans to increase the test areas which will require the participation of both public and private sector players.

Maxis Bhd recently inked a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to accelerate 5G in Malaysia, despite the Chinese tech giant facing claims of security backdoors in its equipments which would open the channel for spying. The company had denied the claims vehemently.