Corona Alarm: When Virus Viraling is A Criminal Offence

By: Sonny Zulhuda

coronavirus_update920.jpg.daijpg.600Everyone now speaks about this COVID-19, the latest Corona virus epidemic which started in China recently and had now affected over 45,000 people worldwide, and killed more than 1,200 people. People talk about it because it is everyone’s concern. It is about life and death (beyond just economy!).

The problem now is, we have too much information to the extent that it is so hard to identify the truth behind each piece of information. Some of those info may have led to increasing fear and panic. I believe this is not what we want: mixing facts with fiction, then distorting our priorities.

It is interesting to note recently (the past few days) that some penal sanctions were upheld by courts in Malaysia against those who are found to spread fake news or information about COVID-19. Here are some excerpts from one media report (The Star Online, 13 Feb 2020):

“Retiree fined RM5,000 for spreading fake news”

SANDAKAN: A former employee of the Sabah State Railway Department was fined RM5,000 in default 10 months’ jail by the Magistrate’s Court here for spreading fake news on Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), Bernama reported.

Magistrate Suhailla Selag meted out the fine on Aliuudin Amit, 67, who is retired, after he pleaded guilty to the offence yesterday. He was charged with circulating a statement aimed at causing public mischief through WhatsApp by spreading a rumour about a prisoner in Sandakan Prison who died from Covid-19. The offence was committed at Lot 70, Jalan Selunsung, Taman Sempelang, Kota Kinabalu, at 9.34pm on Jan 23. The statement was read by an officer of the Sandakan Prison at 10.46am the following day.

The charge was under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to two years, a fine or both, upon conviction. In mitigation, Aliuudin, who was unrepresented, promised not to repeat the mistake. Aliuudin paid the fine.

Now, let us see. The report said it was “fake” news. What law was used to bring the charge? No, not the “Anti-fake news Act, because it is now repealed (Almarhum) already. Instead, the charge was brought under Malaysia’s main criminal code, i.e. Penal Code section 505.

Section 505 of Penal Code is entitled: Statements conducing to public mischief. It has few sub-section, but let me zoom in to the sub-section (b) which has been used by the Court. Here are the excerpts: Continue reading

Hoax in the Era of Industry 4.0

By: Sonny Zulhuda

We have those usual greeting lines every morning such as ‘How are you today?’ or ‘Have you had a breakfast?’

What about these lines: ‘Have you received any hoax today?’ Or worse.. ‘Have you spread any hoax today?’ …. 

7E3A8212Yes. Like it or not, hoax is now inseparable from our life. Just before I spoke in the Saturday ASEAN Youth Conference 2018 in IIUM on this topic, I received ‘news’ that Obike Malaysia stopped its business in Malaysia – which is not true!

The spreading of hoax, though existed since time immemorial, is now extremely rampant due to the advanced technology and the abundance of data around us. It seems that the bandwidth and connectivity was so good that data can even be sent before we think of sending it!

I called this as an excess of data inflation, which leads to information euphoria of a kind. Certainly we have ability of more data gathering, but somehow less on data intelligence. Owning and using a smart phone does not necessarily make us a smart person though.

With such a mishandling, information may become a disinformation, mal-information or even a misinformation. The convergence of information technology and big data have led to a “disrupted society”. A once connected and interconnected society is now “over-connected”, borrowing the phrase from William’s Davidow’s book “Overconnected”.

pacu-teknologi-manufaktur-kemenperin-bersinergi-dengan-startup-B0wBut, what makes sharing hoaxes is so appealing? Partisanship, Naivety, dramatisation, identity and self-actualisation can be the reason behind it.

  • Partisanship: sending hoax (despite the fakeness) conforms to the sender’s existing beliefs;
  • Identity: the act of sending such material proclaims one’s taste and affiliation;
  • Dramatisation: the fear factor that urges people to spread a hoax such as fear of life, fear of detachment, fear of sin, fear of social evils, fear of deseases, etc;
  • Naivety: deceived by all that glitters;
  • Self actualisation: such as the pride of one being the “most informed person”.

Unfortunately, no matter how good or genuine someone’s intention is, sending hoax is not cool. It can even land you on legal troubles. So, let’s not take it for granted. Something must be done. Everyone can be part of it.

It is worth-remembering that in 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) came up with this Declaration of Principles: Building the Information Society, which sets the philosophical and ethical foundations for the global users of the information technology, that:

  • The Information Society should respect peace and uphold the fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, shared responsibility, and respect for nature.
  • We acknowledge the importance of ethics for the Information Society, which should foster justice, and the dignity and worth of the human person. Emphasis on the role of family in society.
  • The use of ICTs and content creation should respect human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, including personal privacy, and the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
  • All actors in the Information Society should take appropriate actions and preventive measures, as determined by law, against abusive uses of ICTs.

I also took this opportunity to remind the audience of the Prophet Muhammad-guided information governance that has been taught as a legacy to us:

  • Info Dissemination: The prophet PBUH emphasised on accuracy and clarity
  • Info Gathering: He assigned specialist to gather espionage
  • Info Management: He appointed secretaries among the trusted and skilled companions
  • Info Confidentiality: He classified info on warfare, critical project e.g. Hijra, names of munafiqun
  • Respect to Privacy: He prohibited private surveillance
  • Info Authenticity: He used a special seal for correspondence
  • Info Verification: He always emphasised on the need of Tabayyun (i.e. verifying the source of information)

what to do when you suspect a fake news or hoax?

This chart from the Singapore’s National Library Board page may help.

FAKE chart

(Excerpt from my keynote: “IR 4.0 and the Inflation of Information: Issues and Challenges”)

#IR40 #Hoax #fakenews #control #information #AYC2018 #PPIMalaysia

  • February 2020
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
     12
    3456789
    10111213141516
    17181920212223
    242526272829  
  • Visitor

    free counters

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,631 other followers