Cyberlaw and Beyond – What to Expect After Legislation?

By: Sonny Zulhuda

The recall of Malaysia’s existing legal landscape related to electronic business (see my previous posting here on ‘Legal Landscape of Malaysian E-Business Environment’) may result in impression that the country has done good enough. True, Malaysia should take the pride of among the regional leader in enacting legal framework for e-business. But surely enacting rules alone is not sufficient. Not only they need to be implemented, but also they need to prove their effectiveness.

In order to look into this matter, it is possible to create certain benchmarks to measure against when we assess the e-business legal landscape. Those benchmarks are represented in the following issues:

  1. Have the laws helped promote the country’s economic growth through improved e-business revenues? This requires certain statistical analysis that this study is not doing. Thus, while it recommends further study to be done on this, perhaps one can learn from the symptoms; that our e-business is ever growing.
  2. Second issue to consider is to what extent the existing legal framework has eradicated infringement of intellectual property rights, both of its own nationals’ and foreigners’? This measure should be addressed seriously by our policymakers so that we do not jeopardize our own pledge to become the leader of IP protection as declared in the MSC pledge and bill of guarantees.
  3. How good and satisfied our e-business consumers feeling protected and given their rights? Are they any more unfortunate with their counterparts in the offline trading environment? This takes us by suspicion for some reasons. First, because while offline consumers can rely on the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1999, the online community does not have any law to turn to for remedies, at least for now. The CPA expressly excludes its application for electronic commercial activities. Thus, consumers may be left in a very disadvantageous situation. Secondly, in Malaysia not only people suffer from the haze over the air, but also from the worrying poor level of personal data protection. There are still recurrent stories and claims around on the misuse of personal information by certain entities, including some government agencies (It was reported in 2005 that a government agency allegedly sold people’s confidential information to some private colleges to attract potential new students. However the claim was denied by the Ministry, The Star, 6/8/2005).
  4. Another important benchmark to pose here is how our corporate entities have –both private and public ones– enhanced their good corporate governance practice in relation with their preparedness for e-business environment. A traditionally good corporation, for instance, may have yet overlooked to establish policies on their information assets, security and website uses. With the surrounding potential legal liabilities, corporations should enhance their own awareness and create sound corporate online policy.

Given these benchmarks, so where is Malaysia with its ‘bunch’ of Legislation in this area? Let’s first wonder and ponder, but surely one would like to see it heading positive way.

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