MCMC urged to use different thresholds for news portals, porn sites

Reposted from The Star Online

23 March 2016

PETALING JAYA: A higher threshold must be set for the authorities to block news websites as compared to that used to bar pornographic sites, said constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan (pic).

He said the arbitrary powers given to the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to block websites deemed “undesirable” could lead to abuse.

“While it may be justified for a lower threshold to be set when it comes to pornographic websites, a higher threshold must be set in order to block access to any websites when there is a misuse amounting to an offence under the Communications and Multimedia Act.

“It must be proven first that indeed an offence has been committed. Again, I reiterate – as it stands, MCMC have no powers to arbitrarily block a website for breach of Section 233 of the Act,” he said in a Facebook post.

Syahredzan also noted that it was wrong to compare news portal, such as The Malaysian Insider, which has ceased operations, to that of porn sites, categorising them as “undesirable.”

He said MCMC has “limited and specific powers” to block news portals and the power must have judicial oversight, meaning that it must be done through legal means.

“MCMC must be able to go to court, obtain an ex-parte order to block the website. The court must be satisfied that the website indeed has pornographic content,” he wrote.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said in Parliament lobby that the government’s decision to block the news portal pending criminal charges was for its “undesirable content” similar to that of porn websites.

Salleh said the authorities “cannot wait to act after a website is seen to have abused network services.

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