The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and it’s new amendment. that wonderful piece of legislation meant to repeal the archaic and ‘draconian’ ISA may turn out to be even more archaic and draconian than the ISA it was meant to replace.
While much of the legal fanfare has been focusing on the detention without trial sections of the bill, as a tech blogger, I wanted to focus on the technical aspects of it. Specifically let’s focus on how the new law would allow the government to eavesdrop onto your internet communication without the authorization of any Judge or Judicial oversight. Now while, the public prosecutor, or Attorney General in this country isn’t specifically part of the government–he (or she) is appointed by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong on the ‘advice’ of the Prime Minister.
The sections of the bill that focus on the interception of communication is both all-encompassing and far-reaching, giving far too much power to the Public Prosecutor to intercept your private conversations and web surfing habits, which is a gross invasion of privacy.
Power to intercept Communications
The act grants exceeding powers to the Public Prosecutor, including the ability to authorize any police officer to intercept your postal letters, your internet conversations, you email and even your web surfing habits. This includes a list of the website you visits, and which comments you’re posting on Malaysiakini.
On top of this, the Public Prosecutor has the legal authority to compel an ISP to intercept and retain any communication you performed for an unspecified amount of time. Which could be forever.
Basically he can begin to ask Maxis or Unifi for the list of websites you visit, and your detailed online communications, access to your emails, your friend list on facebook, your tweets and even your online files. Not even your online porn stash will be free from the prying eyes of the Public Prosecutor (not that I have one though…just saying, I know a friend who does).
All this without ever having to go to a Judge for judicial oversight. More importantly, anything collected in this way is deemed admissible as evidence in court, and no one will have to explain how the evidence was obtained. For all you know they could have placed webcams in your home, but they would would never have to explain this in court.
What’s worse is that a Police Superintendent is granted similar powers when “immediate action is required leaving no moment of deliberation“.
We all understand the need for the Police and Public Prosecutors to do their job well, and they require tools to catch the bad guys. However, this grants them way too much power with regards to their ability to invade the privacy of personal citizens. I don’t want the Public Prosecutor or a curious Police Superintendent snooping on my internet conversations, and yet the new Special offences act allows them to do that–legally!