If you weren't aware, the Malaysian online community has been in a tizzy commenting about one man's actions.
Just this week, a man named Eddy Rajang drew widespread public condemnation after he posted a video of him berating a Carlsberg promoter. Even though he quickly took down the post, the damage was done.
Within hours, Malaysian netizen took it upon themselves to expose his and his family members' personal information and publicly shamed him. Going to the extent of revealing where he worked, the faces of his family members and even locating where his young daughter went to school! Some even claimed that they wanted to go to the daughter's school to track her down.
Following the uproar, Eddy lost his job.
This was despite issuing a public apology in the following video. This was what he said in the video:
Salam Sejahtera. Saya yang dikenali sebagai Eddy Rejang ingin membuat permohonan maaf secara terbuka kepada semua rakyat Malaysia dan terutama kepada perempuan tersebut...Akui kesalahan saya dan amat menyesal tindakan saya terhadap perempuan tersebut. Saya berharap isu ini tidak lagi dipanjangkan oleh mana – mana pihak memandangkan saya telah bertemu dengan YB Lim Lip Eng dan telah membuat permohonan maaf kepada pihak YB Lim. YB Lim juga mengatakan akan membuat perjumpaan dengan promoter perempuan tersebut secepat mungkin. Sekian , terima kasih . – Eddy Rejang
However, despite not condoning Eddy's actions towards the poor promoter; we do not think Eddy's action deserved such a reaction either.
Not cool people, not cool
Because not only has he issued a public apology; harassing him online can be considered as CYBER-BULLYING!
Moreover, photos and the identity of the Carlsberg promoter are also making their round on social media. The Carlsberg promoter - which we must praise her for high EQ and calmness in responding to Eddy's remarks - has issued a press release
through Carlsberg saying that while she appreciated the encouraging words and support from all parties, she preferred everybody to also respect her privacy.
In the statement, Managing Director of Carlsberg Malaysia Lars Lehmann commented;
We respect the promoter’s decision not to further pursue the matter. She appreciates the encouraging words and support received from all parties...Nonetheless, she urged all parties to respect her privacy by not circulating any images, videos and personal information of her
But before we go into the nitty-gritty behind the law, there was another case that took place in 2014.
Kiki’s road rage incident
Kiki became an overnight sensation because she over-reacted and retaliated by repeatedly hitting the car of an elderly man who had accidentally bumped into her new Peugeot car. The incident became viral within hours after it was video-recorded and uploaded onto YouTube by an onlooker.
Like Eddy, angry netizens took it upon themselves by scouring through social media and public domain databases to look for Kiki’s personal data and then exposing her personal data to the public.
Such a practice is known as “doxing” or document tracing. It means tracing someone or gathering information about an individual using publicly available sources on the Internet.
Some have posted distasteful remarks on her Facebook page, while others have publicly cursed and shamed her, with some even threatening to harm her physically.
Even if you do not remember her, you would definitely remember that steering lock.
In fact, her company’s website came under attack and her social media account was hacked!
Similarly, while we do not condone what Kiki had done to the elderly man, we do believe that “two wrongs do not make a right”.
The extent to which the netizens have done is tantamount to cyberbullying and harassing. Imagine what would happen if someone harmed her using the personal data that they got online?!
Just because the information is available online, that does not mean we all should also behave like a bully by mining and exposing her personal data online.
While many would have agreed that Kiki should not have taken the law into her own hands, or that Eddy had himself to be blamed for doing such a thing on that poor girl, likewise, we also should not behave like a judge, jury and executioner. That is precisely why we have the Parliament, police and courts.
In both cases, the authorities have taken the appropriate - and most importantly, LEGAL - method of handling the matter.
Kiki had since pleaded guilty and the court had fined her RM5,000 and ordered her to do 240 hours of community service.
As for Eddy, we understand that the police have opened an investigation file and therefore, we should just let the law to take its own course.
Unfortunately, there is NO law that regulates the disclosing of private information online.
The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 only applies to the processing of personal data in commercial transactions.
If there is evidence that shows that the personal data was pulled out from private databases, then arguably that may constitute hacking under the Computer Crimes Act 1997. Otherwise, if the personal data was merely extracted from the public domain, then there is no case.
That being said, there is also a potential cause of action under the common law right to privacy. The victim will have to sue and prove that his privacy has been invaded. In addition, he must show that the action has caused severe intrusion into his personal life.
But, there 2 other laws that might get you in trouble.
Eddy Rejang got tonnes of hate comments online. However, those hateful comments can land you or anyone else in the hot water with the law.
A word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a person is a crime. In this case, modesty includes attacks to a person's sexuality and also manhood.
It states that;
Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such person, or intrudes upon the privacy of such person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine or with both.
S503 of the Penal Code - Criminal intimidation
A threat to injure the reputation of any deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested, fall within this section.
Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation.
For example; A, for the purpose of inducing B to desist from prosecuting a civil suit, threatens to burn B's house. A is guilty of criminal intimidation.
Therefore, leaving comments like "I hope you die!" and "I will hunt you down and kill you", which are directed towards Eddy, can land you in hot water under s.503.
While we live in the social media age where sharing, forwarding and tweeting messages form part of our daily lives...
We should remember that while technology provides tools that give us convenience, it can also become an invisible weapon. A weapon that indirectly harms someone, without us knowing it or thinking about the consequences.
We have to strike a balance between freedom of expression and protecting the peace and harmony in this country
About the author:
This article was written by Edwin Lee Yong Cieh, Partner of this Firm (+6016 928 6130, [email protected]) and assisted by Michelle Chang. Feel free to contact him if you have any queries.
The view expressed in this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. It does not constitute professional legal advice. You are advised to seek proper legal advice for your specific situation.