Muhyiddin: Asean members must review laws in fighting cybercrime

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA

ASEAN countries must be united in addressing cybercrime, especially in designing new regulations and framework to ensure the cyberspace is a secured place.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) said there are areas under the present laws which need to be reviewed to accommodate new technologies and challenges.

“Technology has evolved at a rapid pace and so has new cyber threats and challenges.

“Consequently, there must be a mechanism to enable the existing laws to be applied in cyberspace and new laws to be enacted if the need arises,” he said in a keynote speech at the first Asean Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN1) which was held virtually today.

Muhyiddin added that cyber threats are rapidly changing and encroaching into every sphere of our lives, including in communications, works, online transactions and even matters related to national security.

“They have also become more sophisticated, complicated and transboundary in nature.

“In this regard, Asean members can no longer operate and work in isolation.”

Muhyiddin noted that Malaysia recognises the cross-border nature of cybercrimes and the challenges in bringing cybercriminals to justice as this requires a coordinated and integrated regional approach.

“As such, Malaysia is moving towards these security objectives with a comprehensive plan and strategy to provide a secure, trusted and resilient cyberspace, while at the same time fostering economic prosperity for the well-being of all Asean member countries,” he said.

Muhyiddin proposed that Asean members come out with stronger legislation pertaining to hate speech that, among others, compels digital platforms to remove or mete out punishment for any speech wilfully promoting violence and attacks, be it verbal or physical.

“Asean member states could consider legislation on data privacy and users’ rights that can be applied to any digital entity practising in the region.

“Digital platforms could be required to assume greater accountability, allowing them to be sued as long as they have control over their products,” he added.

Meanwhile, in his opening speech, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah invited Asean states to be part of the Global Accreditation Cybersecurity Education Scheme (Global ACE).

Saifuddin offered Asean members to validate and certify cybersecurity personnel under this programme as a world-class competent workforce in cybersecurity and further promote the development of professional cybersecurity programmes within the region.

He said Global ACE was established with the combination of shared experiences from governments, academia, industries, higher learning institutions including Cybersecurity Malaysia, as well as synergistic collaboration with public and private organisations across Asia Pacific and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.

Muhyiddin also acknowledged that the emergence of Covid-19 has accelerated the growth of the digital economy in Malaysia.

He said since the pandemic began, things have changed drastically daily and, sometimes, hourly.

“The government has identified the digital economy as one of the key economic growth areas to achieve our national commitment of elevating the country to be a nation of sustainable growth while ensuring fair and equitable distribution across income groups, ethnicities and regions,” Muyiddin said.

He also suggested the Asean members set up a fund to improve digital and internet infrastructure among member states.

“We could also come up with an online platform to connect small- and medium-sized businesses and artisans across the region, selling original goods directly to consumers, thus, easing transactions.

“A board of trustees with members appointed from Asean countries could determine the company that will be set up, maintain and run the platform,” said Muhyiddin.