Cabinet approves plans to license, regulate social media

Sources say the cabinet approved the licensing proposal in April, a month after the Communications Ministry told Parliament that the MCMC was finalising the framework. However, a purported July announcement will reportedly be pushed back pending feedback from industry players.

The plan, first mooted in late 2023, would involve the likes of Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), Google, TikTok and X as well as a host of other platforms with more than eight million Malaysian users.

The aim was also to facilitate revenue-sharing with local content producers such as news media, as well as to stem what authorities deem as harmful and illegal content, while regulating political content.

Content Oversight

Meanwhile, sources cited in the report said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) made several proposals on content regulation during briefing sessions. This included proposed pre-emptive action to prevent offences, which platform owners and civil society groups both opposed.

Other proposals required platforms to open up their content moderation and algorithms to be subject to audits, as well as a kill switch to remove objectionable content. At present, the MCMC already issues take-down notices to social media platforms.

In the case of Facebook, posts that are flagged by the MCMC but do not violate the platform’s own rules are restricted from Malaysian audiences.

Meanwhile, TikTok revealed in a report that between June and Dec 2023, Malaysia topped the global TikTok takedown requests to the platform.

The MCMC had defended its actions, saying it was meant to protect social media users citing that 70% of over 25,000 take-down requests made in 2023 were against scams and online gambling.

Rocky Rules 

Earlier this month, Rocky Bru also known as Datuk Ahirudin Attan (picture), President of the National Press Club of Malaysia, reportedly said, “The media must remain independent and not be compelled to remove published articles at the behest of any authority, including police or government officials.”

“If an editor feels intimidated, then he or she should resign. You can only take down or correct your story if it is not true. If you are convinced it’s going to slander someone, you don’t publish the story. You ensure the facts are right, and if someone tells you to take it down, you give them the middle finger and say, ‘I’ve got a job to do’.”

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