What is Section 114A?
On 18 April, Nazri Aziz tabled a second amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 in Dewan Rakyat. James Dawos Mamit supported the motion, and the Evidence (Amendment) (No2) Act 2012 was passed after the second and third reading. On 9 May, Dewan Negara passed the amendment.
114A is the newly added section to the Evidence Act 1950. The amendment has wide-ranging reach and extends to practically everyone who uses any Internet platform–from e-mail and social media, to blogs and online media.
If an online post is traced back to your username and is considered seditious or defamatory by the government, you are guilty until proven innocent.
As part of the Evidence (Amendment) (No2) Act 2012, Section 114a is problematic for a number of reasons:
i) It presumes guilt rather than innocence, which contradicts the basis of many justice systems.
ii) It makes Internet intermediaries–parties that provide online community forums, blogging and hosting services–liable for content that is published through their services. This can result in the removal of comment functions, which has a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media favoured by Malaysians.
iii) It threatens freedom of expression online through fear. It also reduces the spaces for posting legitimate comments and opinions.
iv) It allows hackers and cyber criminals to be free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for any content/data which might have changed.
v) It reduces opportunities to be anonymous online which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet.
vi) It is a bad law passed in haste and does not take into account public interest and participation.