The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is currently considering introducing a new legal framework for combating fake news. This comes after the commission says that it receives numerous complaints from the public about fake news and offensive online posts.
The MCMC says that the new legal framework is necessary for creating a healthier environment on the internet for the good of all users and society. Laws already exist to handle these sorts of events; although the MCMC believes that the scope needs to be expanded to include online sources. At the same time, the MCMC urges the public to continue to report fake news so that action can be taken.
Fake news has become something of a problem on the internet, but the use has become somewhat blurred. The original context of the phrase referred to websites that posted “news stories” that were clearly more works of fiction that balanced reporting. While the phenomenon is not exactly new, it became an issue during the US elections where fake news was used to sway the opinion of voters.
Malaysia’s problem with fake news is somewhat different from that affecting western countries. The content we are faced with are generally click-bait style stories shared on social media. These “viral” stories are more often than not shared from less than reputable sources looking to make a profit from advertising revenue.
Malaysia already has laws against spreading fake news; the Communications and Multimedia Act imposes criminal penalties against both ISPs and users who “comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.”
What additional framework the MCMC is looking into is unknown at this point. It is likely that the provisions of the CMA could be expanded beyond the current scope; as it is now limited to content directed at another person; instead of fake news in general.