Open Government and Cyber Security in Malaysia

By: Sonny Zulhuda

Open government is the notion that allows transparency of governments in running matters pertinent to public interests. According to that concept, the government shall allow its citizens an access to government documents and a right to obtaining information relating to public matters.

In Malaysia recently, the Open Government initiative was represented in the Public Sector Open Data Portal programme which was launched in September 2015 by MAMPU, a Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department. It declares that the aim of such initiative is to open and share government data to public and hence to enhance transparency and efficiency of government and to create a digital innovativeness.

 

With this background, the question of how the Government deals with the increasing demand of freedom of information and other challenges ranging from personal data to the government data security is worth examining. I was invited to talk about this at an international conference hosted by Sydney Cyber Security Network, the University of Sydney, Australia. In my presentation, I highlighted a recent initiative of open data in Malaysian public sector and the related challenges on data security, privacy and information surveillance.

I was also looking at the recent developments in Malaysia relating to the enactment of personal data protection law and recent policies relating to critical infrastructure protection. Lessons from cases and incidents surrounding information security and personal data breaches were discussed to trigger discussions on relevant solutions and best practice.

Among the key summary of my talk in Sydney was as following:

  • Open Government is underway, but more economically-motivated and narrowly looked at “open data”. A long way to the “open government”.
  • Cyber security governance enhances the security of data in the Malaysian cyberspace. However:
  • There is a striking imbalance in the legal framework between the protection of secret on one hand, and the freedom of information on the other.
  • The data privacy law boosts the transparency in the private & commercial sector, but it is a missed opportunity for an open government.
  • The open government initiative needs to be supported as national agenda, to be backed by a stronger law and national policy.
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