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Malaysian govt says it won't restrict social media videos after outcry

This article is more than 12 months old

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia insisted yesterday it would not use decades-old laws to stop people from posting videos on social media, backtracking on earlier comments that sparked concerns about worsening freedom of expression.

Communications Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told Parliament earlier yesterday that the law required people in Malaysia to get official permission to make any video - even those intended for social media platforms such as TikTok.

His comments sparked a storm of criticism from opposition lawmakers and social media users who were concerned that the government was trying to silence dissent.

Hours later, he released a statement saying he had simply been explaining how the current laws, which date from the 1980s, worked.

"The government has never, and does not intend to, use this Act to restrict personal freedoms of individuals on social media," he said, adding that platforms such as TikTok and YouTube did not exist when the law was enacted.

The remarks were triggered by a row over an Al Jazeera documentary made in Malaysia that has infuriated officials, who claim the Qatar-based broadcaster did not get the necessary licence. Al Jazeera insists it did not need one.

Officials were open to any suggestions about how the legislation could be improved, Mr Saifuddin said.

A number of people have also been more amused than outraged by his original comments and posted mocking videos.

Alongside a clip of his pet cat, one Twitter user commented: "Just letting you know that I do not have a... licence to publish this film." - AFP

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