Shop Owners to Be Held Responsible for Providing Free WiFi?

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The recent controversial Section 114A of the Evidence Act is still causing a massive outcry by internet users in Malaysia, and it doesn’t look like it will die down anytime soon.

According to a report in The Sun Daily, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has been asked to explain to the public the government’s clarification over the confusion surrounding the new law.

“Critics and lawmakers from both sides of the divide have been lobbying for the law to be repealed after it came into force last month, stressing that internet users are now automatically presumed guilty for any offensive content posted through their registered networks, hand-held devices, blogs and web portals. It was reported that last Friday, the Bar Council had met the AG to discuss the amendments made to the Evidence Act,” the paper reported.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz addresses that there has been much confusion seeing as many do not understand the legal terms of the amendment. This leads to the matter being taken out of context.

According to a statement he made to The Sun Daily, “People are free to talk but be more responsible, (don’t cause) unsubstantiated fear.” “I think most (people) who write (or talk) about this don’t understand. It’s not presumption of guilt. It is presumption of fact and the safeguard is the court. If in any situation the court is convinced, only then the burden of proof will shift to the accused and he (the accused) can challenge this later through a balance of probabilities. People who are legally trained will know that the threshold in rebutting on the balance of probability is very much lower than trying to prove beyond reasonable doubt. But if you come and say you don’t trust the court, then there is nothing I can do because in any developed country, the court is the arbiter of all this… You need to trust the court … If you come up to me and say you don’t trust the court, then you are being childish,” he said.

“Nazri repeated that the amendment was meant to protect the country’s security, adding that people must look at the spirit of amendment as a whole as 114A is to complement the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Penal Code (amendment) Act 2012 and Criminal Procedure Code (amendment) (No2) Act 2012,” the Sun reported. Nazri also added that people should be more cautious when letting others use their smartphones or gadgets.

He was also questioned on the assumption that people who provide free Wi-Fi, such as coffee shop owners could be held responsible for content published online by those using the Wi-Fi facility. He replied saying that it did not automatically mean that the owner will be held responsible. “The only thing that will happen is that we will get your cooperation to trace to person (who allegedly posted matters deemed seditious), we are not going to charge you because someone else used your Wi-Fi facility,” he said, rubbishing claims that the amendment curtails people’s freedom.

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