Parliament will begin debate on Computer Crimes Bill on Monday and it has been officially notified of six amendments to the Bill

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Dewan Rakyat will begin debate on the Computer Crimes Bill on Monday, after the passing of the Promotion of Investments (Amendment) Bill, which is at the stage of winding-up speech by the Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry, Kerk Choo Ting.

According to the Order Paper for the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, all the four computer bills, the Computer Crimes Bill, the Digital Signature Bill, the Telemedicine Bill and the Copyright (Amendment) Bill would be debated in that order first before the Rent Control (Repeal) Bill 1997.

I have today officially notified Parliament that I would be moving six amendments to the Computer Crimes Bill during the committee stage of the debate, which would probably be on Tuesday.

Three of the amendments are to reduce the maximum penalties for computer crimes created by the Bill (I) from a maximum of RM50,000 fine or five years’ jail to RM10,000 fine or three years’ jail for the offence of unauthorised access to computer material under section 3; (ii) from a maximum of RM150,000 fine to RM100,000 fine for the crime of unauthorised access with intent to commit further offence under section 4; and (iii) from a maximum of RM100,000 fine or seven years’ jail to RM50,000 fine or five years’ jail for the offence of unauthorised modification under section 5.

Despite these amendments, Malaysia would still have the most severe penalties for the same offences of computer crimes in the www - the Whole Wide World.

The fourth amendment proposes the deletion of Section 8 which seeks to create a statutory presumption that any person having custody or control of any program, data or other information when he is not authorised to have it will be deemed to have obtained unauthorised access unless it is proven otherwise. This statutory presumption will criminalise the majority of computer users in the country which is inappropriate at a time when the country wishes to popularise IT-literacy and IT-fluency among Malaysians.

The fifth amendment is to introduce a new section which would give the court the discretion to dismiss a prosecution where unauthorised access is without malice and has caused no damage, making a distinction between hacking and cracking - the former meaning unauthorised access without malice or causing damage while the latter meaning malicious computer intrusion.

The sixth amendment will empower the court to order a convicted offender to pay compensation to the victim for any damage caused to his computer, program or data.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong