Telegram not cooperating with M'sia, govt to keep watch on TikTok - Fahmi

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is considering taking action against Telegram due to numerous complaints lodged against the messaging platform.

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the government has been attempting to engage with Telegram since January, but as of today, the company has not responded.

Fahmi said the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), as the regulatory body, will propose the next course of action to be taken against the platform.

"We are having troubles with Telegram. They have been invited (for talks) but they are not cooperating.

"This could be an issue.

"The complaints are a lot but we do not see the effort from Telegram to cooperate," he said in a press conference after launching the Merdeka logo and theme here today.

Also present was Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Fahmi cited a specific complaint made by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), which involved the sale of points on the platform to doctors.

These points are typically earned by doctors when attending conferences or workshops as part of their career progression, but Fahmi revealed that they were being sold on the messaging platform.

Apart from that there are also concerns over pornography and drug related activities being shared through the application.

Fahmi mentioned that other social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok, have been cooperating with the government thus far.

Speaking about action to be taken against TikTok, he stressed that Malaysia will not follow in the footsteps of other countries in taking stern action against the application.

"I understand that foreign countries are scrutinising the security aspects of using TikTok, but here in Malaysia, we will continue to monitor the situation through agencies such as CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM), National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA), and even the Home Ministry.

"As a sovereign state, we have the right to make our own decisions based on factors and evaluations conducted by our agencies.

"Now, almost all platforms have provided their cooperation, but the concern lies with Telegram," he added.

Also Read: Should Malaysia ban TikTok?

TikTok has recently found itself embroiled in a global geopolitical storm. Governments worldwide are ramping up scrutiny of the Chinese-owned app, with concerns over data privacy, cybersecurity, and harmful content taking centre stage, along with fears about the platform's ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

From the United States to Europe, a growing number of countries are imposing restrictions on TikTok, primarily banning its use on government devices.

Experts who spoke to the New Straits Times cautioned that while there is no concrete evidence to suggest TikTok is a national security threat, concerns are rooted in general distrust of China and awareness of Chinese espionage.

They, however, said the safety and privacy risks facing TikTok users, particularly civil servants and lawmakers, could not be ignored, and urged the government to take a measured approach in addressing these concerns.

This, they said, might involve investigating global concerns over the app, increasing regulation to ensure responsible and ethical use of TikTok, limiting or controlling data collection, and banning the app's use on government devices.

Meanwhile, about 80 per cent of respondents  in a New Straits Times' poll on Twitter and Instagram supported measures to control TikTok.

These measures include the possibility of a nationwide ban, imposing restrictions, or banning the app on government-issued devices, as done in other countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

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