MCMC Explores The Possibility Of Blocking Telegram In M’sia

The Comms and Digital Minister assures users that they wouldn’t be too affected by any actions taken against the messaging app.
(credit: Dima Solomin on Unsplash)

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According to Silver Mouse, Telegram is one of the most popular messaging apps in Malaysia. Telegram is currently in the top three spot, only overshadowed by WhatsApp. So, if the government decides to block the app, we are quite certain that many users will not be happy about this.

New Straits Times reports that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is considering taking action against the messaging app Telegram, which may include blocking the platform. Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin, the chief compliance officer of MCMC, stated that such measures might be necessary to protect users and uphold national sovereignty.

According to Zulkarnain, cyber crime activities on Telegram have significantly increased and now rank among the top five, whereas they were previously in the 11th position between 2019 and 2020. He highlighted the lack of official communication channels or contact persons for Telegram, making it difficult to address issues or take follow-up actions.

Telegram’s popularity stems from its high level of end-to-end encryption and its ability to facilitate large-scale data sharing on cloud services. However, the absence of registration requirements, credentials, invitation processes, and administrators pose risks for cyber criminal activities. Zulkarnain expressed concerns that this makes Telegram an attractive platform for cyber criminals who can transition from the dark web to Telegram.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently urged the Communications and Digital Ministry to take swift action against Telegram. The messaging app had refused to cooperate with authorities on various cybersecurity matters, including online scams. Telegram’s spokesperson, Remi Vaughn, stated last month that the app declined cooperation due to its stance against political censorship. Vaughn emphasized that Telegram actively moderates harmful content, such as the sale of illegal substances and public pornography.

Zulkarnain further highlighted a unique feature of Telegram that allows users to create bots capable of launching cyber attacks. These bots can infiltrate an organization’s servers or networks to gather confidential data. He urged users to exercise caution and avoid easily sharing information, particularly messages containing unknown links. Zulkarnain emphasised that one click could lead to disastrous consequences not only for individuals but also for organizations and the country as a whole.

(credit: Telegram/ Malay Mail)

In the meantime, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil assured that the government would take measures to minimise the impact on Telegram users if any actions were imposed on the platform.

Fahmi acknowledged the widespread use of the app, particularly among specific communities such as schools and media practitioners, who rely on it for video and image transmissions.

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