Drafting the Mother of All Bills

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By Associate Professor Datuk Dr. Husin Jazri

To provide clear legal authority for agencies to regulate and enforce laws related to cyber security as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the long-awaited Cyber Security Bill is to be drafted right away by the National Cyber Security Agency, an agency under the National Security Council of Malaysia.
The bill which is expected to be tabled to the Parliament should be given the highest priority as digital communications and cyberspace now affect many parts of life. 
Due to the increasing number of cyber threats indiscriminately probing every digital frontier of government and companies in Malaysia, as well as the escalating cybercrimes and online scams every year that results in significant losses, the Cyber Security Bill, soon to turn into law for Malaysia is expected to address the existing gaps and help improve our country’s digital defenses and security postures. Simultaneously, the bill is to provide more coordinated avenues for law enforcement agencies to protect the critical national digital infrastructure and provide better cyber safety for digital citizens who are left exposed to face scams and crimes on their own. 
From another perspective, the proposed Cyber Security Bill is to not only protect Malaysia’s companies but also act as a new source of economic growth for our cyber security industry. The Cyber Security Bill should focus on four major fronts; to coordinate and protect government and companies’ digital business and operations, to provide long-term cyber safety awareness and education at all levels, to nurture and incentivize cyber security business, and encourage a stronger local front by working closely with international companies – providing better cyber safety and data protection to digital communities, digital citizens, and small and medium industries. 
The proposed Cyber Security Bill is expected to provide an opportunity for the Cyber Security Commission to be established, as part of efforts in strengthening the country’s cyber security. 
To that, Malaysia needs to strengthen its local cyber security industry and eventually aim to expand its services overseas. As seen through the education industry, almost all public and private universities in Malaysia offer cybersecurity programs, generating thousands of cybersecurity graduates every year. The establishment of a strong local cyber security industry means the availability of job opportunities for all these graduates. 
Even though no formalized statistics have been issued so far, the digital dark market that exploits the lack of cybersecurity and data protection is thriving fast internationally, and local scammers are sponsored and coordinated by these international operators, hiding behind the challenges of enforcing cross-border laws.
As such, the enactment of the Cyber Security Bill is expected to provide an extensive set of cross-border laws to counter cybercrimes, ensuring companies keep their information systems up to date. It also allows the local cybersecurity industry to be seen as a new source of economic growth, as well as upholds and prioritizes the digital safety and well-being of the public.

About the author: Associate Professor Datuk Dr. Husin Jazri is currently the Director of the Global Centre for Cyber Safety at Taylor’s University. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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