Call on the Attorney-General and the police not to apply the Computer Crimes Act against non-malicious hacking like the hacking of the Perak government homepage but to first focus on educating all teenagers about the severity of the law


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday):
I am very concerned that the Perak State Government and the police authorities seem inclined to use the full extent of the heaviest penalties for computer crimes in the world to deal with the hacking of the Perak Government website on Tuesday.

The hacker into the Perak state government website had wanted to send a message, that the server housing the Perak state government website could easily be hacked, and that he was not trying to destroy anything – and he indeed did not cause any harm or destruction.

However, under the Computer Crimes Act enacted by Parliament in May, the hacker had already committed two computer crimes, both of which attract the heaviest penalties in the world. Firstly, the offence under Section 3 on unauthorised access, which carries a maximum sentence of RM50,000 fine, five years’ jail or both; and secondly, the offence under Section 5 on unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer, which carries the maximum penalties of RM100,000 fine, seven years’ jail or both.

I suspect that the hacker of the Perak government homepage would be some teenage computer hobbyist with no malice or ulterior motive to gain financial advantage, but just wanted to test the security system and his computer skills.

Legally, with the passage of the Computer Crimes Act, this hacker has committed two computer crimes which carry the heaviest penalties in the world, but I would repeat my argument in Parliament that the authorities must make a clear distinction between those who hack with real criminal intent and those who do so without malice.

The Perak State Government and the police authorities should take a more relaxed attitude on the hacking of the Perak State Government homepage, with the Perak Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah, inviting the hacker to reveal himself so that the Perak State Government could thank him for demonstrating the weak security system – with the police giving an assurance that it would not nab and prosecute him as a criminal.

I therefore call on the police and the government authorities to exercise discretion and in the initial stage of the Computer Crimes Act, they should focus on education with regard to harmless hacking like the Perak government homepage hacking rather than to use the full extent of the heaviest penalties for computer crime in the world

The Attorney-General and the police should not apply the Computer Crimes Act against non-malicious hacking like the hacking of the Perak government homepage but to focus on educating all teenagers about the severity of the law

Let us use the Computer Crimes Act against the real cybercriminals and not with computer hobbyists, without first educating the teenagers about the contents of the Computer Crimes Bill.

(12/9/97)


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