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Malaysia set to license messaging, and social media apps

Recent plans by Malaysia’s regulatory body, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), to implement a licensing regime for social media and messaging platforms have sparked widespread concerns among stakeholders.

The move, which was first mooted in 2023 under the Anwar Ibrahim administration, aims to regulate digital content and potentially facilitate revenue-sharing with local content producers.

Initially presented as a means to curb harmful and illegal content while supporting local media, the proposals have encountered significant skepticism from industry representatives and civil society members. According to sources who attended meetings chaired by the MCMC, discussions primarily centered around preemptive measures to prevent offenses, including the implementation of a potential “kill switch” for removing contentious content.

Despite claims by authorities regarding revenue-sharing, stakeholders noted a conspicuous absence of concrete plans during these sessions. Critics argue that the proposals could broaden the scope for regulatory abuse, with concerns raised about potential infringement on digital freedoms and privacy rights.

“The engagement sessions felt more like briefings outlining predetermined plans rather than open discussions,” remarked an anonymous attendee familiar with the proceedings.

Reports indicate that Malaysia’s Cabinet endorsed the licensing proposal in April, following earlier announcements by the Communications Ministry to finalize the regulatory framework. The proposal targets major platforms such as Meta (including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), Google, TikTok, and others with substantial Malaysian user bases exceeding eight million.

Key elements of the proposal include mandatory content moderation and algorithm audits, alongside requirements for platforms to establish a local presence subject to Malaysian jurisdiction and penalties. These measures underscore Malaysia’s evolving approach to digital regulation amid global debates over the balance between online freedom and regulatory oversight.

As stakeholders await further developments, the proposed licensing regime continues to provoke debate and scrutiny both locally and internationally, highlighting ongoing tensions between digital innovation and regulatory control.

The Straits Times

Vineeta Singh

Vineeta Singh is a talented and experienced writer with a passion for technology and digital innovation. With a background in journalism and content creation, Vineeta has honed her skills in delivering insightful and engaging articles on various topics related to tech, gadgets, and the latest trends in the digital world.

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