Malaysian Minister Azalina Proposes ‘Kill Switch’ Legislation to Halt Online Scams

Malaysian Minister Azalina Proposes ‘Kill Switch’ Legislation to Halt Online Scams

by February 27, 2024

The Malaysian government is deliberating on introducing new legislation for a ‘kill switch’ that would empower authorities to instantly halt scam activities across all online platforms in the country.

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms), announced the proposal during a session in the Dewan Rakyat today (27 February).

The Edge Malaysia reported her saying that the initiative is a crucial step towards adapting the nation’s legal framework to the challenges posed by technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) and increasing cybercrime.

The proposed “kill switch” mechanism is part of a broader effort by the Madani government to refine the country’s approach to digital security, reflecting an understanding of the urgent need for tools that can quickly respond to online fraud.

This initiative stems from the findings of a government-led working committee on online scams, which Azalina co-chaired, revealing that existing regulations fall short of effectively addressing the complexities introduced by modern technology, including artificial intelligence.

Malaysian banks have proactively integrated a kill switch feature that allows account holders to immediately freeze their accounts upon detecting suspicious activities, augmenting the fight against cybercrime.

This measure echoes the steps previously advocated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to introduce a similar “kill switch” in a bid to combat fraud.

Efforts to counter online scams have seen the establishment of the National Scam Response Centre, which, since its inception from 12 October 2022 to 31 January 2024, has received 71,631 calls reporting losses totaling RM245 million (US$55 million).

The urgency of these measures is underscored by the statistics shared by Azalina, who reported that Malaysia witnessed losses amounting to RM1.3 billion (US$293 million) from online fraud in 2023, spanning 32,462 cases. Among these, fake investment scams were the most damaging, leading to losses of RM421 million (US $95 million).

In addition to the kill switch legislation, the government is reviewing several laws, such as the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, Penal Code, and Criminal Procedure Code, with the aim of facilitating the return of stolen funds to victims of online fraud.



Featured image credit: Bernama