The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is expected to decide if there is a need for specific legislation to address cyberbullying once a study on the matter is concluded soon.
This follows a series of incidents where cyberbullying on social media led to suicides.
Speaking at the online launch of Unicef’s “Our Lives Online - Use of Social Media by Children and Adolescents in East Asia” report this morning, the ministry’s deputy secretary-general Tan Chuan Ou shared that a decision on the new law is expected by the end of 2020.
“At the moment, we realise the importance of problems faced by cyberbullying (victims), that’s why the ministry is currently conducting a study and maybe by the end of this year, we will see the outcome of this study.
“We are trying to find out, is there a need for the government to formulate a dedicated cyberbullying act.
“By the end of this year, maybe we can announce it (whether) yes we need it or not,” he said.
Last year, then minister-in-charge Gobind Singh Deo also reportedly considered the need to amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) to address cyberbullying.
This is after a 16-year-old teenager from Padawan, Sarawak reportedly killed herself after posting a poll on her Instagram account where a majority of followers “voted” for her to die.
Need evidence when reporting
During the launch, Tan referenced Singapore and the Philippines which respectively have the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 and the Republic Act 10627 to penalise cyberbullying.
He admitted that there was “no clear protocol” for reporting cyberbullying in Malaysia but opined that the Malaysian Penal Code and CMA were “enough” to deal with such incidents.
“For the time being, based on the current and existing laws and the provisions of the law, the most important thing is you need to capture the evidence so that that can be used to take action against those who bully you.
“If you can capture the screenshot, voice recording and so on; that will be good enough evidence for you, the government and the enforcement agencies to take action,” he explained.
Aside from filing a police report, cyberbullying complaints can also be directed to the ministry via the Cybersafe website, email (firstname.lastname@example.org ), hotline (1-300-88-2999) or through SMS (15888).