There are many things that happens in Malaysia that the general public are never aware of and Section 114A of the Evidence Act is one of them. The amendment to the Evidence Act, which was passed in Parliament on April 18 after it was first tabled on April 10, is now in force after it was gazetted on July 31, 2012. Yes, it’s already gazetted and in force !! So what’s Section 114A all about ?
Simply put if you’re an internet user, everything you say or even don’t say can be implicated and you’ll be presumed guilty before proven innocent. How so ?
Say you’re an owner of a blog or even a Facebook account, which I’m sure many Malaysians definitely have either one or both. Now if someone comes along and posts a defamatory comment on your blog post, website or Facebook account. Under normal circumstances, the author will be held responsible for it but with the new amendments, you’d be held responsible too for not deleting the defamatory comment.
Imagine someone takes hold of your phone and posts something on your behalf to Facebook, Twitter or anywhere on the web and you had no idea what’s going on. What if your phone was stolen and that happens ? Maybe someone just wants to be nasty and get you into trouble ?
With the new amendment it really doesn’t matter if you were not the one that posted it because you are already guilty until you’re proven innocent. This amendment is called Section 114A – Presumption of Fact in Publication. In plain English, it presumes that you willingly published seditious or libellous content if it was traced back to your computer, website or internet connection.
No more innocent until proven guilty !!!!
A petition has previously been signed and we’ve got more than 3000+ people against Section 114A. Now comes the next step which is Internet Blackout day, in hopes or raising awareness on the ramifications of such amendments to the act. We certainly want our freedom on the internet maintained !!
What is Section 114A?
Section 114A is the second of two amendments made to Malaysia’s Evidence Act 1950.
Law Minister Nazri Aziz tabled the second amendment, formally known as Evidence (Amendment) (No2) Act 2012, in Dewan Rakyat on 18 April. James Dawos Mamit supported the motion, and Section 114A was passed after the second and third reading. On 9 May, Dewan Negara passed the amendment.
The amendment was gazetted on 31 July 2012. This means the law is now operational.
What is the purpose of Section 114A?
Section 114A deals with allegedly illicit or harmful content on the Internet. In short, the amendment enables law enforcement officials to swiftly hold someone accountable for publishing seditious, defamatory, or libelous content online.
How does Section 114A affect you?
Titled “Presumption of Fact in Publication”, Section 114A holds the following people accountable for publishing content online:
(1) those who own, administrate, or edit websites open to public contributors, such as online forums or blogs;
(2) those who provide webhosting services or Internet access; and
(3) those own the computer or mobile device used to publish content online.
In other words, if allegedly defamatory content is traced back to your username, electronic device, and/or WiFi network, Section 114A presumes you are guilty of publishing illicit content on the Internet.
But what if you were the victim of identity theft and a hacker wrongfully used your Twitter or Facebook account to post defamatory content?
Under Section 114A, you are still considered guilty until proven innocent.
What is wrong with Section 114A?
Section 114A is problematic for a number of reasons:
i) It disproportionately burdens average Internet users who are wrongfully accused of publishing seditious or defamatory content.
ii) It makes Internet intermediaries–parties that provide online community forums, blogging and hosting services–liable for content that is published through their services.
iii) It allows hackers and cyber criminals to be free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for any content/data which might have changed.
iv) It is a bad law passed in haste and does not take into account public interest and participation.
How will Section 114A affect the freedom of expression?
Section 114A threatens the right to freedom of expression. Internet users may resort to self-censorship to avoid false accusations made under Section 114A. Bloggers, for example, may excessively censor comments made by their readers. As a result, Section 114A inadvertently stifles public discussion about pertinent political or social issues and protects public authorities, such as the State, from public scrutiny.
Visit CIJ Resources page to get a more detailed look at the text and implications of Section 114A.
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