Doxing - new problem in New Malaysia?

The King's resignation has sparked the social media

By Nadhirah Sofea Rashid

The resignation of the King has sparked many controversies especially when netizens started to comment freely on social media.

Some went overboard with their criticisms and it has resulted with at least four people either being sacked, suspended or have resigned from their jobs.

Three of them have also been arrested after police reports were lodged against them and they are being investigated under the Sedition Act for insulting Sultan Muhammad V.

The trio arrested are Eric Liew Chee Ling, 46, who uses the Facebook account name Eric Liew; 27-year-old Azham Akhtar Abdullah who uses the @azhamakhtar Twitter handle; and Nur Alia Astaman, 26, who made postings through her @aliaastaman Twitter handle.

All three have now been released on police bail.

While police conduct their investigations, details of them are also being exposed in the page of Calon Lucutkan Kewarganegaraan Malaysia (CLKM) on Facebook.

This is an example of a practice called doxing, now being as part of a kind of vigilantism by an online group. 

The Facebook page has gained traction with 15,812 users following it since it went up on Sunday.

So what is doxing?

It is harvesting private information from publicly available data online or social media, and broadcasting such information, usually to identify someone.

So now, anyone who is seemed to be insulting the King or the royalty will be targeted and exposed.

Doxing could do a lot of damage to a person. For example the page put up Eric Liew's photo and the name of his employer Cisco Asean. They got it from his LinkedIn professional network profile. 

Cisco has since clarified that Liew was no longer employed there.

Another person was a doctor at the Mediviron clinic in Kajang, who resigned after the page put up his public photos, social media accounts and even details from his practising certificate.

A trend can be seen in their postings with screenshots of comments posted by them. Others would then start calling for the person to be made "famous", "punished" and "taught a lesson". Details of them would start coming in and employers would also be pressured to act, like what happened in Cisco.  

The page has also encouraged its followers to submit the details of anyone who they think would make a good candidate. 

The question now is whether this is right and should this practice be allowed to continue as eight people have already been identified in the FB page.

Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) secretary general Fatihah Jamhari described the group's act as criminal.

“MCMC should take action against the group. It is criminal to allow people to publish personal data especially if they know it can be used to incite anger and probable repercussions on the ‘calon’,” she said when contacted by Youth Connect. 

Fatihah she said the group’s aim to withdraw the citizenship of the targeted people was impossible as there was no such law that allowed that.

“Under the federal constitution, there is no such thing as deprivation of citizenship. There is no allowance for revocation of citizenship other than those obtained by naturalisation. 

Sedition Act

The arrest of the three individuals under the Sedition Act has also created a dispute with some condemning the arrests under the Act saying it should be repealed.

The Cabinet’s resolution to lift the moratorium on certain Acts, including the Sedition Act, was limited to exceptional cases involving national security, public order and race relations.

Subang DAP Youth chief Farhan Haziq Mohamed and constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the police should not have used the Sedition Act to arrest the three individuals.

“The Sedition Act is a colonial vestige that is draconian and repressive as well as being unreasonable and disproportionate to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution. 

“We take the position that although what they have expressed may be offensive and unacceptable to society at large, they should not be detained under the Sedition Act,” they said in a joint statement. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong also said that the trio should be investigated under other alternative laws.

However, Liew said it was ultimately up to the attorney general to decide what law they could be charged under.

“In fact, there are sufficient laws under the Penal Code to deal with them. We don’t necessarily have to revisit the Sedition Act to deal with them,” he said. 

However, deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim defended the arrests saying the context of what was said by the three individuals posed a threat to public order, which is one of the exceptions of a moratorium.

“If the context and what was said by the three individuals continues to be viralled by more people on social media, it would threaten the country’s peace.

“If we let it go just like that, it will threaten public order. So we had to do our job in accordance with the law to preserve peace in the country,” he said.

So now the question remains, should the authorities do something doxing in Malaysia or just wait until it becomes a real problem for many?