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Round Table Discussion: Digital Rights in Malaysia

This event aim to update stakeholders on state of Digital Rights in Malaysia related to privacy, freedom of expression and innovation. It will look into the impact of digital rights in light of disclosure of possible surveillance tools purchased by the government, proposed legislative amendments such as Communication and Multimedia Act, Sedition Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and calls for stronger Intellectual Property Right restrictions via trade agreements.

The rights to privacy in Malaysia is under threat in digital space. A leaked information online revealed that the Malaysian Government bought Spyware services from Hacking Team, an organization known for selling spyware systems to governments to spy on their citizens. Also, Malaysian government passed the amendment on the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) in 2013, which authorizes phone-tapping and communications powers 2 to the government and also electronic anklet to track the freed detainees of POTA. With surveillance by the government, an introduction to measures on self defense against surveillance is needed.

Malaysia’s constitution provides citizens with “the right to freedom of speech and expression,” and MSC Malaysia has guaranteed in the Bill of Guarantees No.714, ensuring no censorship of the Internet. In past few years there have been several on the restriction of freedom of expression using Internet and digital technologies, such as opposition activists, parliamentarians, student leaders, NGO members, human rights lawyers, journalists, academics etc. charged with Sedition Act and Penal Code. Not much has been discussed yet or known, on the possible implications of other laws such as the Printing and Presses Act that could also be used to restrict use of digital publications.

Malaysian Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws at this time are not very restrictive for innovation, but there are upcoming threats of possible introduction of restrictive IPR laws through harmonization of laws via trade agreements such as the TPPA. This would lead local amendments to be similar to Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA) and with it problems related to it’s abuse such as academic freedom to research or on freedom of expression via take down notices. Similar extensions to copyright protection and recognition of software patents, could also result in restrictions for digital innovation. Laws and regulations that could allow ISPs to provide personal data without court order on issues related to copyright violations can also be threat to privacy.

Programme Agenda:



9:00 – 9:30


9:30 – 10:00

Welcome and Introductions

10:00 – 10:45

Deepening the Understanding of Digital Rights Concepts

In this interactive, debate-style activity, the participants will discuss and debate on seemingly opposing concepts on digital rights. The topics to be discussed here will include:

  • freedom of expression vs. hate speech online

  • privacy vs. transparency

  • anonymity vs. public safety

10:45 – 11:15

Coffee / Tea Break

11:15 – 12:00

The Current State of Play in Malaysia and Globally (Part 1)

In this activity, participants will be grouped to discuss the current trends and threats to digital rights in Malaysia. Groups will be expected to report back to the plenum on the results of their discussion.

12:00 – 13:00

Lunch Break

13:00 – 14:00

The Current State of Play in Malaysia and Globally (Part 2)

This will be a presentation and a discussion on frameworks for understanding digital rights and the current policies in Malaysia in relation to freedom of expression, surveillance, privacy, and innovation.

14:00 – 15:30

Brainstorming Session on Addressing Digital Rights in Malaysia

Small groups will be formed to think about activities, solutions and ideas about what to do to mitigate the digital rights situation in Malaysia.

Groups will be asked to present their ideas, and have a discussion about it.

15:30 – 15:45

Coffee / Tea Break

15:45 – 16:45

Taking the Discussion Forward

Based on the ideas presented in the previous session, participants will discuss which ones to take forward. This plenary discussion will also include topics such as:

  • Who else to involved in the plans?

  • Current campaigns (either in Malaysia, regionally, and globally) that the ideas tie in with

  • Future collaborations and activities

16:45 – 17:00


Seats are limited as there are only 30 slots available. So, please email to Sze Ming () to book a seat in advance. Admission is FREE.

10/25/2015 9:00 AM

10/25/2015 5:00 PM

Tan Sze Ming


Pusat Rakyat LB, MCCHR

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