STRATEGIC LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

REPORT ON CYBERHARASSMENT AND OTHER HARMFUL CYBER BEHAVIOUR

The Law Reform Process

  1. The PeopleACT published its Issues Paper on cyberharassment, cyber violence, and other harmful cyber behaviour on 8 April 2017, which served as a consultation document to obtain views and opinions from stakeholders on whether current laws in Malaysia are sufficient to tackle the problem of cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour.

 

  1. Five issues were outlined in the Issues Paper, namely:
  • Issue 1: Whether the current provisions in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 should be amended to specifically address cyber-harassment and other forms of harmful cyber behaviour;
  • Issue 2: Whether the current law is sufficient to address online sexual harassment;
  • Issue 3: Whether current laws prohibiting obscene publications is sufficient to tackle cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour;
  • Issue 4: Whether current penal law adequately addresses threats of death and threats of rape and other abusive communications made using cyber technology;
  • Issue 5: Whether the current law is sufficient to deal with the offence of using cyber technology to seriously interfere with another’s privacy.

 

  1. Between April and December 2017, PeopleACT organised seven public consultations[1] where the PeopleACT discussed the content of the Issues Paper with civil society organisations, telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, government agencies including the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Malaysian Bar, members of parliament (MPs), academicians, and legal practitioners.

 

  1. The PeopleACT also contacted all 222 MPs, two state assembly persons, 24 civil society organisations, eight government agencies, seven media organisations, two statutory bodies, three telecommunication companies, 13 academicians, and 16 individuals, inviting them to submit their comments on the Issues Paper. The PeopleACT received submissions from six organizations.

 

  1. Through the public consultation as well as direct submissions, the People ACT received many valuable comments and submissions and the PeopleACT is grateful for the contribution.

 

  1. Based on the comments and submissions received as well as taking cognisance of the need to tackle this problem, the PeopleACT is proposing that cyberharassment is dealt with through legislation and an awareness raising campaign. The latter has been carried out by the PeopleACT since April 2017. As regards the former, this report, which includes draft legislation, is meant to assist the government and other stakeholders, by providing a legal framework, which could afford legal protection and remedies to survivors of cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour in Malaysia. It is highlighted that the proposed draft legislation does not prescribe the type of punishment or the length of punishment. The PeopleACT has intentionally omitted this as it does not possess the expertise in this area and further work would need to be done on the detailed type and length of punishment.

 

  1. The PeopleACT would like to reiterate its commitment to freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights standards i.e. that freedom of expression is the general rule. As it is not an absolute right, restrictions are permissible so far as it is provided by law (and interpreted narrowly); proportionate; and are necessary for the respect of the rights and reputations of others, or for the protection of national security, or public order, or public health or morals.

 

  1. As specified in the Issues Paper, a number of laws are unsuitable (and therefore not considered) to be used to tackle cyberharassment and the like, as these laws, at its essence, unnecessarily restrict freedom of expression in Malaysia and could create additional barriers to freedom of expression in Malaysia:
  • Firstly, criminal defamation set out in section 499 of the Penal Code. The PeopleACT is of the opinion that to couch defamation within the realm of criminal law, which attracts imprisonment and heavy fines, is disproportionate and is not a permissible restriction to freedom of expression. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has continued its call for governments to repeal criminal defamation laws;[2]
  • Secondly, the Sedition Act 1948 is unsuitable to be used to tackle the problem of cyberharassment as there is a lack of clarity with regard to fundamentals of the said legislation; this has the potential to leave a negative effect on freedom of expression in Malaysia. In addition, with Malaysia’s commitment to the Human Rights Council to address concerns regarding the Sedition Act 1948,[3] the PeopleACT feels that a separate exercise is required to deal with the Sedition Act 1948 to ensure the balance between freedom of expression and restrictions;
  • Finally, section 298A of the Penal Code, which makes it an offence for any person who “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organizing, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organizing, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner (a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will; or (b) prejudices, or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions”. For this provision, the PeopleACT would like to highlight that in the case of Mamat Daud & Ors v The Government of Malaysia,[4] the Supreme Court held that section 298A of the Penal Code is invalid and null and void. This was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Tan Jye Yee & Anor v PP.[5]

 

  1. In conclusion, the PeopleACT would like to point out that cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour is a growing problem in Malaysia and it is important that Malaysia acts now to tackle the problem. Since the publication of the PeopleACT’s Issues Paper, the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia recorded 1,150 complaints relating to cyberbullying, harassment, menacing actions, misuse of personal information and photos with the intention to shame or humiliate another individual between January and July 2017.[6] In addition, the same Ministry observed that there has been an increased use of the Internet by Malaysians particularly social media platforms – in 2017, there were 24.1 million Internet users in Malaysia, of which 89.3 per cent used social media platforms and 15.5 per cent were below the age of 19 years.[7]

[1] 30 May 2017; 14 July 2017; 22 July 2017; 25 July 2017; 8 August 2017; 12 August 2017; and 4 September 2017.

[2] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, 4 June 2012, A/HRC/20/17, Human Rights Council, Twentieth session, <https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/137/87/PDF/G1213787.pdf?OpenElement> accessed 28 March 2017.

[3] UN Press Release, ‘Malaysia Sedition Act threatens freedom of expression by criminalising dissent’, 8 October 2014, <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15144#sthash.ZRjfUJs1.dpuf> accessed 28 March 2017.

[4] [1988] 1 CLJ 11.

[5] [2015] 2 CLJ 745.

[6] Pemberitahuan Pertanyaan Dewan Rakyat, Soalan No. 384.

[7] Dewan Negara, Parliament Ketiga Belas, Penggal Lima, Mesyuarat Ketiga, 7 December 2017, DN 7.12.2017.

The full report can be found here.

ISSUES PAPER ON CYBER-HARASSMENT, CYBER VIOLENCE AND OTHER HARMFUL CYBER BEHAVIOUR

This issues paper was released to the public on 8 April 2017.

ISSUES PAPER ON CYBER-HARASSMENT, CYBER VIOLENCE AND OTHER HARMFUL CYBER BEHAVIOUR

BACKGROUND AND ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED

  • The growing use of information and communication technologies (ICT) has become a double-edged sword – on one hand, ICT significantly increased access to information and opportunities and has made communication faster and easier. On the other hand, ICT has brought about unfavourable consequences – it has been used as a tool to inflict harm on others; harm in this instance refers to cyber communications that are abusive, threatening or invasive of privacy.[1]
  • More and more reports of threats of violence, rape and killing have emerged in Malaysia – for example, a young woman (who was caught on video hitting the car of an elderly man after a motor vehicle accident) had her car registration number and other private information exposed and it went viral within 24 hours; a radio presenter received rape and death threats (when she asked on a YouTube video whether hudud law would be able to address the socio-economic issues in Kelantan); and a young man received thousands of death threats and other hateful messages when he organised a dog familiarisation event. This problem is not exclusive to Malaysia – according to the United Nations, 73 percent of women and girls have been exposed or have experienced some form of online violence.[2] In most of these cases, perpetrators of cyber threats/harassment are rarely held accountable for their behaviour and the possibility of being anonymous in cyber space exacerbates this problem.
  • Threats of rape, death and exposure of private data, information and photographs are emotionally stressful and the damage they inflict on their victims can sometimes extend to physical trauma. In turn, this results in a direct and indirect cost to society and the economy – the need for health care increases and resort to judicial and social services rises, in turn driving up financial resources and productivity decreases once peace and personal security of a person is threatened.[3]

Rationale for the Campaign

  • Malaysia has the fourth highest proportion of youth Internet usage worldwide,[4] and the use of ICT, including the Internet, will continue to grow exponentially, particularly, amongst the younger generation. As such, it is important that the Internet is made a safer, respectful and empowering space, for current and future generations.
  • To ensure this, the government, law makers, industry players and the general public must demand and act against the violence perpetrated in cyber space. As there are currently no specific laws that tackle cyber threats/harassment and other harmful cyber behaviour in Malaysia, it is therefore necessary to ascertain whether there is a need for relevant legal provisions to tackle this growing problem.
  • Legal reform on its own is insufficient – there must be public awareness on the problem to ensure that not only harmful cyber behaviour is called out but that cyber users are able to ensure that they behave in a respectful manner when using cyber technologies. Increased public awareness will also ensure that legal reform will have a wider impact.

Commitment to participatory democracy

  • With a firm commitment to the principle of participatory democracy, including an increase in effective participation of Malaysians in the legislative process, the PeopleACT believes that law reform could and should include meaningful consultation with stakeholders. As such, the PeopleACT would like to start the law reform portion of the PeopleACT campaign with this Issues Paper, which serves as a consultation document to obtain views and opinions from stakeholders on whether the current law in Malaysia is sufficient to tackle the problem of cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour.
  • This Issues Papers reviews Malaysian legislation that is relevant to cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour, in particular the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Penal Code, and civil action such as, privacy and harassment. The Issues Paper also looks at laws in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland and the European Union (EU), to see how the laws in these jurisdictions deal with cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour.
  • In addition, the Issues Paper draws upon a quantitative survey carried out by the PeopleACT from 8 June 2016 to 31 December 2016 (the “Survey”). The Survey conducted received 522 responses, of which 336 (64.4 percent) identified themselves as women; 183 (35.1 percent) identified themselves as men; and three respondents identified themselves as from the ‘other’ category.[5] Majority of respondents (52.1 percent) were 17 to 24 years of age and most respondents were from Selangor (52.7 percent) or Kuala Lumpur (23.8 percent). The Survey was targeted at Malaysians where 97.1 percent (i.e. 507 responses) identified themselves as Malaysian. See Annex 1 for the report of the Survey.
  • Apart from the Survey, the Issues Paper will also refer to excerpts from 35 incidents conducted with victims/survivors of cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour and incidents reported in the media. All interviews are anonymised to protect the confidentiality, safety, and security of the interviewees. Where possible, any reference to gender has been omitted/ randomised.
  • At this juncture, the PeopleACT would like to state at the outset that it is committed to freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights standards i.e. that freedom of expression is the general rule. As it is not an absolute right, restrictions are permissible so far as it is provided by law (and interpreted narrowly); proportionate; and are necessary for the respect of the rights and reputations of others, or for the protection of national security, or public order, or public health or morals.
  • As such, after a review of all relevant laws in Malaysia, it is observed that there are a number of laws that are not suitable (and therefore not considered in this Issues Paper) to be used to tackle cyber harassment and the like, as these laws, at its essence, unnecessarily restrict freedom of expression in Malaysia and could create additional barriers to freedom of expression in Malaysia:
  • Firstly, criminal defamation set out in section 499 of the Penal Code. The PeopleACT is of the opinion that to couch defamation within the realm of criminal law, which attracts imprisonment and heavy fines, is disproportionate and is not a permissible restriction to freedom of expression. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has continued its call for governments to repeal criminal defamation laws;[6]
  • Secondly, the Sedition Act 1948 is unsuitable to be used to tackle the problem of cyberharassment as there is a lack of clarity with regard to fundamentals of the said legislation; this has the potential to leave a negative effect on freedom of expression in Malaysia. In addition, with Malaysia’s commitment to the Human Rights Council to address concerns regarding the Sedition Act 1948,[7] the PeopleACT feels that a separate exercise is required to deal with the Sedition Act 1948 to ensure the balance between freedom of expression and restrictions;
  • Finally, section 298A of the Penal Code, which makes it an offence for any person who “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organizing, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organizing, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner (a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will; or (b) prejudices, or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions”. For this provision, the PeopleACT would like to highlight that in the case of Mamat Daud & Ors v The Government of Malaysia,[8] the Supreme Court held that section 298A of the Penal Code is invalid and null and void. This was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Tan Jye Yee & Anor v PP.[9]

Issues to be considered

The People ACT seeks the views of interested parties on the following five issues:

  • Issue 1: Whether the current provisions in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 should be amended to specifically address cyber-harassment and other forms of harmful cyber behaviour;
  • Issue 2: Whether the current law is sufficient to address online sexual harassment;
  • Issue 3: Whether current laws prohibiting obscene publications is sufficient to tackle cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour;
  • Issue 4: Whether current penal law adequately addresses threats of death and threats of rape and other abusive communications made using cyber technology;
  • Issue 5: Whether the current law is sufficient to deal with the offence of using cyber technology to seriously interfere with another’s privacy.

The entire issues paper can be downloaded here.

We invite the public to submit comments on the issues paper by email at [email protected] The deadline of submission is 7 October 2017. Mean time, PeopleACT will be organising a series of consultation with various groups to obtain their feedback. Thereafter,[10] the PeopleACT will publish a more authoritative report, which will contain the PeopleACT’s proposals to the government on the best legal solution to tackling the problem of cyberharassment and other harmful cyber behaviour in Malaysia.

[1] Issues Paper on Cyber-crime affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation including cyber-bullying’ (LRC IP 6-2014, Law Reform Commission, <http://www.lawreform.ie/_fileupload/Issues%20Papers/ip6Cybercrime.pdf> accessed 24 March 2016.

[2] ‘Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls – A World-Wide Wake-up Call’, A Report by the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development Working Group on Broadband and Gender, (2015), <http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/cyber_violence_gender%20report.pdf> accessed 24 March 2016.

[3] ‘Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls – A World-Wide Wake-up Call’, A Report by the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development Working Group on Broadband and Gender, (2015), <http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2015/cyber_violence_gender%20report.pdf> accessed 24 March 2016.

[4] ‘Exploring the Digital Landscape in Malaysia’, UNICEF (November 2014), 41 <http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/UNICEF_Digital_Landscape_in_Malaysia-FINAL-lowres.pdf> accessed 4 Mar 2016.

[5] ‘Other’ was an option given to recognise the possibility of a third gender identified by the respondents themselves.

[6] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, 4 June 2012, A/HRC/20/17, Human Rights Council, Twentieth session, <https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/137/87/PDF/G1213787.pdf?OpenElement> accessed 28 March 2017.

[7] UN Press Release, ‘Malaysia Sedition Act threatens freedom of expression by criminalising dissent’, 8 October 2014, <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15144#sthash.ZRjfUJs1.dpuf> accessed 28 March 2017.

[8] [1988] 1 CLJ 11.

[9] [2015] 2 CLJ 745.

[10] The consultation period will take approximately six months from the date of release of this Issues Paper.

SURVEY ON HOW CYBER-HARASSMENT AFFECTS MALAYSIANS 2016

INTRODUCTION

The PeopleACT’s strategic legislative advocacy campaign against cyberharassment conducted a national survey from 8 June to 31 December 2016.

The purpose of the survey is two-fold:

  • to learn about the respondents’ online behaviour, how they understand online violence, how online violence affects them; and
  • to identify suitable candidates for an extended qualitative study on incidents of online violence in Malaysia.

The survey consisted of 12 questions. Questions 1 to 4 asked for personal information such as nationality, gender, age and area of resident; questions 5 and 6 were related to online habits such as the preferred ICT tools used and the length of time spent online; questions 7 to 11 asked what the respondents would consider as online violence, whether they have experienced online violence, and if yes, would they allow the PeopleACT to document their experience. The final question (Question 12) was added to the survey as part of a collaborative initiative with EMPOWER, a woman’s non-governmental organisation, working towards developing a people’s internet rights charter; question 12 will not form part of this survey analysis, as the answers are used by EMPOWER for their charter.

The survey was conducted in English and Malay for a period of six months (8 June to 31 December 2016). The survey was uploaded on UndiMsia!’s website (www.undimsia.com) and Facebook page and shared extensively online. It was also distributed to those from public universities such as Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysian NGOs, National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO), Joint Action Group on Violence Against Women (JAG), Ministry of Women, residents’ association, law students, etc.  Although the survey was initially intended as an online survey, it was the physical participation of respondents at specific events held mainly in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur that contributed to the bulk of the data collected.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS

  1. Out of the 522 respondents, 336 (64.4 percent) were women and 183 (35.1 percent) were men. Three respondents did not specify their gender. Majority of them ranged from 17 to 39 years old (52.1 percent from 17 to 24 years old, 30.5 percent from 25 to 39 years old). Although all states were represented by at least one respondent, an overwhelming majority resided in Selangor (52.7 percent) and Kuala Lumpur (23.8 percent).
  2. WhatsApp (91.4 percent), Facebook (85.4 percent) and email (68.6 percent) were the top three online platforms used most by the respondents on a daily basis. 78.5 percent of them used these platforms via their smart phones while 61.3 percent with their desk or laptop.
  3. Majority of the respondents (66.7 percent) spent about one to five hours online on a daily basis. This excluded the time they spent online for work purpose. The survey also showed that the longer a respondent spent online, the more exposed they were to the risk of online violence, specifically hateful comments, online shaming, revenge porn and death/rape threats.
  4. Interestingly enough, the number of respondents who felt fearful, threatened or uneasy because of the comments or responses they received online was not higher despite them spending more than 10 hours online per day and experiencing a higher percentage of online violence.
  5. Those who said they spent more than 16 hours online a day (2.7 percent) were mostly 17 to 39 years old and composed of seven men, six women and one unspecified gender.
  6. Most respondents (above 60 percent) would consider online death/rape threats, revenge porn, online hate speech, online sexual harassment, and online intimidation by the government as online violence, but there were also 20 percent who thought online criticism is a form of online violence.
  7. Only one respondent out of 522 added that stalking is a form of online violence.
  8. Seventy percent of female respondents considered receiving unwanted online sexually explicit images or links as a form of online violence as opposed to 59 percent of male respondents.
  9. Of the 64 women who did not consider online death threats as a form of violence, 23 were 17 to 24 years old. Out of these 23, there were 20 who would however consider online scam and criticism as forms of violence.
  10. More than half of the respondents (50.4 percent) have experienced one form of online harassment at least once in their life.
  11. Women suffered online sexual harassment (20.9 percent) at least two times more than men (9.8 percent). Women also experienced online death or rape threats (4.8 percent) and stalking (16.4 percent) more than men (3.3 percent and 13.1 percent respectively).
  12. Meanwhile, men experienced online hateful comments (34.9 percent), online shaming (17.9 percent) and online spying (20.7 percent) more than women (30.4 percent, 11.4 percent, and 12.2 percent respectively).
  13. Men (2.2 percent) and women (2.1 percent) seem to experience revenge porn equally.
  14. Forty one percent of the respondents claimed they have felt fearful, threatened or uneasy because of the comments they received online. Of these, 3 percent were women compared to 35.5 percent men. Women from all age groups appeared to feel more fearful, threatened or uneasy online compared to their male counterparts.

The full survey report can be found here.

People Against Cyber Threats/ Harassment (PeopleACT)

PeopleACT is an UndiMsia! intiative. It is run by a group of human rights defenders from different non-profit organisations in Malaysia. Its mission is to make the cyber environment a safer, more respectful and empowering space for Malaysians through strategic legislative advocacy and public awareness campaign.

We invite you to:

  • Create awareness among your peers about online harassment by requesting a screening of Viral Sial followed by a group discussion of 20 or more people. Please contact Pusat KOMAS or PeopleACT to arrange this.
  • Prevent online harassment by protecting your loved ones and yourself. Request a group digital security training workshop conducted by EMPOWER. Please contact Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER) for details.
  • Contribute to PeopleACT’s research on how online harassment affects you so that we can help policy or law-makers and enforcers to address the issue effectively. Share your experience of online harassment with PeopleACT.
  • Participate in PeopleACT’s online survey on how online harassment affects you. Please click the survey in English or Malay.
  • Help PeopleACT to document incidents of online harassment by sending screenshots of harassment you witnessed online by clicking here.
  • Join our campaign by sharing articles or other media content that promote awareness on online harassment in your social media account with the hashtag #takfunny and #PeopleACT.
  • Join our campaign by being a volunteer for PeopleACT.

Check UndiMsia! Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on PeopleACT or contact Mazni Ibrahim at [email protected] or 03-2201 1454.

For detailed information on the project, click on the concept note in EnglishMalay and Mandarin.

Check out our FAQs about online harassment in English and Malay.

Documented incidents of online harassments

The incidents below are summary of some of the real cases of online harassment documented by PeopleACT. The names of the survivor and perpetrator have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

The full report of the documentation will be published soon.

Incident 1: Hacking and identity theft led to death threats online

In 2010, Aminah co-created a blog that promoted discussions on religion in Malaysia. The blog attracted many anonymous users, especially one who persistently left comments insulting Islam, which became viral.

This said user then hacked into Aminah’s Facebook account and stole her identity to trick the public into thinking that she was the real person behind the comments. Since then, she received waves of harassments, threats and insults online, including the creation of a Facebook page that called for her killing. An online group who identified themselves as hackers upholding Islam and social justice fed information onto the page. The page purportedly gained 20,000 likes within a day.

Aminah also received a message from someone who claimed to be a doctor that said, “If you were my patient, I’ll inject you with poison.” She reported the incidents to Facebook but did not receive any feedback.

She believed she was stalked online after she received multiple messages on her Facebook from strangers who claimed they knew where she lived, worked and parked her car (they knew her car plate number). By then, she felt genuinely afraid for her life and lodged a police report.

In 2013, an anonymous letter detailing her online history was sent to her supervisor, asking whether someone as Islamophobic as her should be employed. Several anonymous emails were also sent to her workplace, containing screenshots of anti-Islamic comments made by the user who impersonated her and a sex video claiming to be her.

Aminah suffered rigorous interrogations by the religious authorities and Special Branch. It was the result of the Special Branch’s investigations that she was finally cleared of all allegations linking her to the actual offender.

Incident 2: The sexual harasser can be someone you know

Shirley has been receiving images with sexual content regularly via Whatsapp from a particular man she knows professionally. She would often respond to the messages by laughing it off and then deletes them immediately because they make her feel uncomfortable. Her discomfort reached to the extent where she could not even talk about it and blocks it off her mind.

She said that although she feels extremely uncomfortable receiving these messages, she is unable to tell the man to stop because it may affect their work relationship and he is in fact extremely professional in person. She admitted that it would be easier for her to tell the man off if he is a stranger.

Incident 3: Online bullying a cause for teenage suicide

In 2013, while Chong was in Form Six, he participated in a singing competition in school. Someone took a video of him, posted on their Facebook and tagged him. It attracted more than 70 comments mocking him about his singing and that he didn’t belong to the competition. When he asked for the bullying to stop, the hateful comments increased and some even private messaged him and threatened to bash him up.

When he reported this to the school authority, the teacher in charge brushed him off and no action was taken.

He reported the post to Facebook but his account was suspended for 14 days instead. While no reason was given by Facebook for this suspension, he suspected that someone else had lodged fake reports against him to Facebook. He then deactivated his account and created another one under a pseudonym until today.

The video of him was finally taken down from Facebook after his parents warned the person who posted the video up that a police report would be lodged.

Chong claimed that he suffered deep depression for more than a year. During this time, his studies deteriorated significantly. He was also alienated in class to a point where he became suicidal.

Incident 4: Sexual predators using the internet to “hunt”

In 2012, Kamala was only 17 years old when she met someone on Facebook who introduced himself as a 30-year-old heir from Mumbai working as an engineer in a company. Although she told the man that she was not interested in having a relationship at that time and wished to concentrate on her studies, he insisted on waiting for her. Subsequently, he told her that he was coming to Malaysia and wanted to meet her alone. He told her that he was living in a hotel close to her house. He had apparently contacted her friends via Facebook and asked them for her address.

Kamala became worried and immediately tried to discourage the man by telling him that they would never communicate again. He got upset and started calling her on the phone numerous times. One time when she did pick up the phone, he started revealing his sexual fantasies of her. This made her very uncomfortable and prompted her to block him on her phone contact list and Facebook.

Subsequently, Kamala discovered that he had started contacting her friends online. He flirted with them and asked them to meet secretly.

Kamala did not report this incident to anyone because she was afraid of how others might judge her, especially her parents. At that time, she thought her parents would be upset and restrict her from any online social activities but now, she wished she had gone to them for advice.

Incident 5: Blogger mom harassed online after posting a picture of her premature son

In 2013, a blogger shared a picture of her premature son on Instagram and received multiple hateful comments from two unknown women who said that her baby looked like an alien and that they would pray for his soul. Other comments they made were that the baby should be euthanised. One particular message said, “Don’t worry, we will support you financially but let us sell his organ to make money out of it! And we will just help to cremate him after. He doesn’t deserve to suffer to be old like you.”

The blogger later confronted the women on Facebook and deleted their comments from her Instagram. The women then removed the pictures of the blogger’s baby on their Instagram before finally deleting their own Instagram accounts.

Incident 6: Woman fearing for her and children’s life after being harassed by “jilted” man

Rosmah was threatened to death via Whatsapp voicemail after she refused to go on a date with a man who was formerly in the army. She also persistently received violent and vulgar text messages such as “Aku penggal kepala kau. Kepala anak sulung kau aku belah. Kau sundal. Anak kedua kau babi” and “Aku lapah kau. Jantung kau aku rentap” from the man. She was also told by the man that he had published pornographic photos of her which had been edited on social media and he was monitoring her movement outside her house.

The above incidents continued for about six months before she finally lodged a police report. However, the case was closed after she withdrew her report upon finding out that the man had asked his friends in the army to kill her. She quickly relocated her family and changed her phone number. Even then, she continued to receive anonymous phone calls which she suspected were coming from the man.

Incident 7: A road bully abused online after road rage incident went viral

Tania got into a road accident with an elderly man and proceeded to verbally abuse the man in public. The incident was recorded by an onlooker who uploaded it onto YouTube and Facebook. The man’s son then proceeded to share the video on Facebook and revealed Tania’s car registration number. The post went viral and triggered a public “witch-hunt” for her. Within 24 hours, netizens successfully identified her as the road bully.

Tania soon became public enemy number one where netizens rushed to leave hateful and violent comments on her social media accounts, including sharing her car registration number as widely as possible. She believed she was also stalked and threatened with violence online. She finally issued an apology on Facebook where she also pleaded the public to delete the video.

 

 

UndiMsia! is the first-of-its-kind civic education programme in Malaysia, aimed at strengthening the ownership, participation and representation of youths on their right to vote and civic responsibility. Its goal is for youths to develop critical thinking and solve issues affecting them through effective forms of activism.

Projects under UndiMsia! are designed based on four pillars; information, process, action and platform for a coalition of civil society.