Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission exercises its powers to direct ISPs to block content The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (“MCMC”) frequently exercises its powers under Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (“CMA”) and directs ISPs to block content which is in breach of Malaysian laws. Under Section 263, a licensee (whether a facilities, network, applications service or content provider) is obliged to use its best endeavors to ensure that its service is not being used for the commission of any offence under Malaysian law. The MCMC or any other authority is entitled to seek assistance as far as reasonably necessary in preventing the commission or attempted commission of any offence. This power has also in the past been utilized to require ISPs to block file sharing sites which were in breach of IP laws. An ISP who fails to comply is liable to a fine of up to RM 100,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 2 years. Recently, the MCMC has renewed its efforts by engaging ISPs specifically for the purpose of blocking pornographic content from being made available online in Malaysia. The provision of pornographic content online is illegal under Sections 211 and 213 of the CMA, which prohibits content applications service providers or anyone using a content applications service, from providing content which is indecent, obscene or offensive, and requires licensees to comply with the Content Code. There are also provisions in the Penal Code which make the distribution and circulation of obscene material a criminal offence. The objective of this exercise, as indicated by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a former Prime Minister of Malaysia, is to block sexually graphic sites which are “negatively stipulating the minds” of the young. However, it appears that requiring ISPs to block pornographic websites may no longer be enough. With the rise and rise of the internet and the accessibility of unlimited information, bypassing these blocks, whether by setting a custom DNS server on your device, connecting to a virtual private network, using a SSH tunnel or using a standard proxy appears to be becoming easier and instructions on how to do so are also easily available online. With the availability of this technology and the circulation of information on it, regulators will need to start thinking further into how it may effectively achieve this objective. For more information, please contact Kherk Ying Chew or Hong Sze Chen.