Sunday, March 6, 2016

MCMC right in blocking TMI, says professors’ group

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's (MCMC) decision to block The Malaysian Insider's (TMI) news portal is a reasonable move as it was acting within its powers to regulate broadcasting and online-related activities, according to the National Professors Council (MPN). MPN communication and information technology cluster deputy head, Dr Shahrin Sahib @ Sahibuddin said MCMC had acted as allowed by the existing law. He said whatever content posted on websites in the country was subject to legal control and approval by the authorities. "In this context, MCMC blocked the TMI portal after it received complaints that the news content might jeopardise national security, therefore follow-up actions such as investigation and a ban can be taken in accordance with the authority given," he said when contacted by Bernama today. Shahrin said the decision by MCMC was not to put restrictons on media freedom, but freedom was allowed with conditions and subject to control under specific law. "If you talk about media freedom, our country is still considered open compared with other countries which are rather strict and extreme such as China and Saudi Arabia. "However, control measures need be enhanced from time to time, so that negative elements which can be accessed through the Internet, for example, can be blocked at the early stage," he said. On February 25, MCMC blocked the TMI site, saying the portal flouted Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act. Meanwhile, MPN social development and wellbeing cluster member, Dr Mohamed Fadzil Che Din said MCMC had taken the approach as it was acting on principle and being accountable. "When social networking sites, blogs or portals convey confusing and inaccurate information, they should be blocked to avoid public confusion. "Such action will be a lesson to others so that they will always be sensitive and comply with the regulations to ensure ethical communication and accurate and authentic news," he said. Another MPN member, Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Ab Majid, believes that MCMC had given due consideration and acted accordingly based on the data available before making the decision to block the site. Should the social media act too freely without any monitoring, it would cause people to be in limbo, he said. MCMC network security and enforcement sector chief officer, Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin said investigations into cases related to online and television and radio network contents could be conducted in accordance with Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. "This includes posting of comments, requests, suggestions or other communication which are obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive with the intention to annoy, threaten or harass others. "A person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to a fine not more than RM50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, upon conviction," he said. Zulkarnain said industry practitioners and the public should refer to the Communications and Multimedia Content Code guidelines to help identify contents that were considered offensive or unacceptable, based on the laws and social values of the country. – Bernama, March 6, 2016.]]>

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