A view of the Seri Wawasan Bridge located in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock

Malaysia mulls making internet access a constitutional right

MALAYSIA is looking to amend its constitution to include internet access as a fundamental right for the nation’s 30 million population as it looks to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo recently said the proposal was aimed at allowing Malaysians to benefit from the national e-economy and e-commerce, the Malay Mail reported.

“The proposal will bring about an abundance of benefits and information access to the people without involving any political element,”

With the right to internet guaranteed under the Constitution, Gobind said the government at the state and federal level would boost efforts to provide the service to all Malaysians.

“I am looking at the constitutional amendment. For a start, I will raise (this proposal) at the Cabinet level and then I will see whether it will be supported by the members of parliament,” he said.

A survey conducted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) found the country’s internet penetration to be at 76.9 percent.

Kuala Lumpur night

Malaysia aims to have broadband speeds on par with developed nations | Source: Pexels

A spillover effect from the amendment included lower internet costs and better speeds as the country’s connectivity and internet facilities would be upgraded.

The call was backed by human rights advocate, Lawyers for Liberty, which said Malaysia will be the first Asian country to join the ranks of a growing group of mostly European states such as Estonia, Finland, Spain and France in ensuring that all citizens have a legal right to broadband access.

The move would also be in line with the UN Human Rights Council’s declaration of Internet access being a basic human right in 2016.

“As has been noted by the Minister, such a move will spur the state and federal governments to improve Internet connectivity infrastructure around the country and propel Malaysia forward into the digital age,” Lawyers for Liberty Executive Director, Eric Paulsen, said in a statement.

“These advances will benefit the country, allow citizens more access to information and other freedoms, facilitate online businesses and services, and help in bridging the urban-rural divide further.”