Assume someone threatens to make public a picture of you in an embarrassing or compromising situation and refuses to delete it or, you read malicious comments about yourself on the Internet. What do you do?
Most Malaysians do nothing about it and suffer in silence.
Unknown to many, there is a body they can turn to for help to block malicious comments and delete embarrassing pictures distributed or published electronically.
The Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) was established eight years ago to handle just such complaints. Strangely, it has yet to receive a complaint of this nature.
CMCF executive director Mohd Mustaffa Fazil Mohd Abdan (pic) said most Malaysians might not be aware of the agency, their rights or are “simply too shy” about having allowed someone photograph them in a compromising situation.
“Malaysians prefer to suffer in silence. They do not come forward to inform us if their partner threatens to Bluetooth or MMS (visual message) embarrassing pictures of them. It could also be because of our social values.”
Mustaffa, who comes from a legal background, said thousands of complaints were received yearly in Europe and the United States.
Here, he said, most of the complaints received by the CMCF were about TV shows and advertisements.
“In the West, the complaints about blogs and handphone abuse are in the thousands. People there are aware of their rights.”
Mustaffa said the number of people threatening to distribute “embarrassing” photographs of their partners was on the rise in Malaysia.
“If they come to use, we can help get the pictures deleted.”
CMCF will contact the service provider to request that the photograph or photographs — if found to be offensive or embarrassing to the person involved — be deleted immediately.
It will then assist the victim in filing a case in court against the offender.
“Instead of suffering in silence or giving in to your partner, sue the person. He could face a jail sentence for threatening you this way,” Mustaffa said.
Regarding blogs, the CMCF begins investigations upon receiving a complaint. It will contact the blogger regarding the content.
“If it is a posting from a reader, the onus is still on the blogger. He or she will have to keep tabs on the blog.
“If someone complains to us, and the comments are deemed malicious or offensive, they should be removed.”
Action could be taken against those making such postings. He said there were bloggers who read the comments before posting them.
A new blog, he said, was being set up almost every other day to cater to the demand from the public for alternative mediums of information.
“The problem starts when people become emotional. They might start hitting out at an individual, causing pain and grief.”
He said the CMCF would only look into the complaint if the postings were malicious in nature and had caused grief to the person concerned.
“There are some who might sit back and have a good laugh over the comment. Others would take the comment in a positive manner and act upon it.
“But there are some who might take the comments as tarnishing their name and affecting their career,” he said, adding that anyone wanting the CMCF to take up the case should first lodge a complaint with it.
He said CMCF promoted free speech but people should take responsibility for their actions unless “someone is putting a gun to your head while writing those comments”.
The same goes for SMS (text messages). There are some SMSes that could tarnish a person’s reputation. He gave several examples.
“If there is an SMS being circulated that ‘so and so is being investigated for money politics’ there is no basis for a case.
“But if it reads ‘so and so has taken this much of money from this person and is distributing more at so and so areas to win a post in a political party’, and if it is not true, the person can come to us.”
He said the content of the SMS should be substantial enough to allow them to take action against the culprit. — NST