LAST_UPDATETue, 17 Jul 2018 1pm

Anti-Fake News Bill Set For Tabling Next Week

KUALA LUMPUR: The Anti Fake News Bill, presented and approved by the cabinet today, is set for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat next week, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said the draft bill, which seeks to formulate a new law to stop the spread of fake news that may threaten the country’s political stability and undermine public order and national security, was given the go-ahead by the cabinet today.

“A briefing session on the matter with Barisan Nasional and opposition Members of Parliament will be held soon,” said Azalina, who is the de facto law minister, in a statement.

Azalina said the formulation of the new legislation is meant to address the creation and spread of fake news.

“This is being done with the interest of the public in mind, to protect the rakyat from them falling victim to fake news.

“However, this legislation will in no way stem the people’s freedom of speech, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” she said.

She said the government hopes that all parties will accept the move in good faith and to not polemicise the issue any further.

“At the same time, the Bill will send out a clear message that the government will not compromise on anything which can jeopardise the country’s peace and security,” she said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Jailani Johari said the draft is currently undergoing a refining process, which includes reviewing feedback from various non-governmental organisations.

"We are looking into the views of various stakeholders including the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia as well as National Union of Journalists before proceeding with tabling the bill,” he said in Parliament today.

"Further information will be shared by the Pengerang Member of Parliament (Azalina),” he added.

On Jan 30, a special committee was set up to study a new law to stop the spread of fake news that may threaten the political stability of the country as well as undermine public order and national security.

The committee had its first meeting in January which was also joined by representatives from the police, Attorney General's Chambers, National Security Council, Communications and Multimedia Commission, Communications and Multimedia Ministry and Legal Affairs Division.

Malaysia currently uses several Acts, such as Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984, introduced 30 years ago.

Earlier, Jailani told the house that the Special Cyber Crimes Committee which was formed on Nov 20 last year had investigated 154 cases, with 16 already brought to court.

"At the same time, action has been taken by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission against 4,358 fake social media accounts, with 80 per cent of them already deleted.

"Access to a total of 48 websites found spreading fake news have also been blocked."