Re Evidence Act

Disclaimer: This is a rant.

Our government is adamant that the amendments it is pushing through vis-a-vis S.114A of the Evidence Act is necessary to make Internet users responsible for their on-line activities.

According to the article, our de-factor Minister of Law claimed that, “Sometimes with slanderous or libellous statements online, it is difficult to enforce the law against them because it isn’t easy to find the person who first put the information on the Internet, which results in no action being taken but a person has been aggrieved.”

Lazy ass mofo.

Can I say that this is the result of lazy and stupid police work. You need to hire better law enforcers and send them for the appropriate training. Other countries are able to capture and take down hackers, pirates, and various other people who commit crimes on the Internet.

If our local police are unable to do so, they need to learn to do it. While I agree that the amount of work necessary is quite involved, that’s the whole point. The government does not get a free ride and point the fingers freely at anyone they feel like without any proof.

He goes further to add that, “Under the amended Act, we shift the burden to the owner of the laptop or account so that we can get to the source”. The amendments flip Justice on its head by shifting the burden of proof to the accused, The Malaysian Bar, said they were concerned with the presumption of guilt in the Act.

According to the article, “Internet users have criticised the amendment, saying it was unfair as websites and social networking accounts could be easily hacked to post defamatory statements.”

As a computer expert and a student of Law, I would like to say that hacking isn’t the issue here. The point is that there is no evidence that one can submit to prove that the statement isn’t theirs. You cannot seek proof for something that doesn’t exist. It’s just not mathematically possible.

That’s like asking someone to proof that they’re not Santa Claus.

Further stupidity is present in the article, “However, some users agreed with the amendment, saying it was logical that the person whose name was associated with the account be held responsible for statements made on the account. If it was not you, then you need to prove it.”

Can I humbly ask in my utter stupidity – how do you prove that an account doesn’t belong to you?

Let’s say that I create a random Google account and call it Mark Zuckerberg. I proceed to write about stuff at Facebook. I even post photos of my recent wedding with Dr Chan. I talk about my daily net-worth as it fluctuates with the stock price. I build up the profile over time and then one day, Mark is asked to prove that the Google account doesn’t belong to him.

What evidence can he submit to prove that?

He can swear under oath, submit a statutory declaration that says that he is not Mark Zuckerberg because he would not get caught dead with a Google account. But that’s not proof. That’s not even doubt. It’s utterly irrelevant.

He can swear that he doesn’t know the password to the account. I can be totally honest about it too because I seriously do not know my passwords. I can swear that I don’t even know my password to this WordPress account.

He can swear that he has never ever logged into Google before but it can be shown that there have been a lot of logins to Google from Facebook computers. Even if that wasn’t true, he could have logged in via a third party network such as TOR or an open proxy.

I hope that I have made my point.

There is no evidence that Mark can submit to prove that the account doesn’t belong to him. The only way to do that would be for him to actually find out whom that account belongs to and to prove that the account belongs to someone else.

But according to our government, that’s too difficult for our government to do. Imagine how difficult that would be for a private citizen like Mark or me.

We’re all screwed if this law goes through.

It’s senseless.

Tech and Tech Bill

Disclaimer: I am a registered Chartered Engineer, a lecturer at a local university, and a law student.

There’s another new bill currently in drafting mode titled “Technologists and Technicians Bill”. Some quarters are seeing this as a reincarnation of the Computing Professionals Bill but I don’t.

The reason is because I also know that there is an effort in at the tertiary education level to split the current engineering courses into B.Eng and B.Tech courses, catering to different market segments and that this bill is a natural culmination of the act.

But before we proceed, we’ve got to first look at the future segregation of the engineering world into B.Eng and B.Tech people. The argument is that there are two different market segments to address. Where I teach, the faculty has even been renamed this year to include “Technology” in addition to Engineering.

On the one hand, our local industries need to have a huge work-force to get shit done. This is where the B.Tech is supposed to come in. Ideally, these people are supposed to be more practical oriented with their education more heavily biased towards addressing direct industry requirements.

We already have certain Bachelors degree at certain local universities that were designed with direct input from certain industry partners and where most of the graduates end up heading to those industry partners for jobs later. So, that’s the idea behind a B.Tech – to address an immediate market need.

On the other hand, we still need people to dream up new ideas and to solve more abstract stuff. This is where the B.Eng is supposed to come in. Ideally, these people are supposed to be equipped with abstract problem solving skills and their syllabus is biased at something like a 80/20 level with more theory and less practical.

So, these people are supposed to dream up the next big thing and to design future technology. This group of people are supposed to fill up the market need for say, research, development and design work – stuff where you end up sitting in front of a PC for most of the day instead of getting your hands dirty on the line.

In terms of professional registration, the second group of people need to be registered as is already done under the law. However, the issue is whether the first group of people should also fall under the BEM is something arguable. At the moment, they do fall under BEM if their degrees are accredited by the EAC.

So, what happens to the B.Tech people when we split the engineering courses up. They were previously under the BEM and so, the natural idea is to extend this to include a new board that caters to the registration of these B.Tech people.

Anyway, a lot of people will disagree with what I’ve said because I also thought it weird at first, but that’s generally the idea that I caught onto last year. We cannot deny that there is a disconnect between what our universities supply and industry needs. This is one of the ways to plug the gap.

Now, back to the actual text of the Bill itself.

The definitions:

“technologist” means a person who applies knowledge of mathematics, science and technology specialisation to defined procedures, processes, systems or methodologies;

One can even argue that medicine is covered by this, which I think is the intent of the bill – to include medical technologists. There is a growing demand for medical technologists – i.e. people who can maintain modern medical equipment – as the number of hospitals in this country is also growing.

I think that this is the idea that we can imply from the definitions:

“technical services” means services provided in connection with any operation, product testing, product commissioning and product maintenance and includes any other technical services approved by the Board;

“technology services” means services in connection with product development, manufacturing, operation, product testing, product commissioning and product maintenance and include any other technology services approved by the Board;

I think the issue that most people will take with the bill, particularly the IT people, are S.20 and S.21 of the bill that provides for the registration of these professionals. Any recognised degree in “Technology” is mentioned explicitly. So, if someone graduated with an IT degree, they might fall under this category but I think that the intent is to capture the B.Tech people.

The rest of the bill seems to be quite boiler plate.

So, I think that the bill is rather innocuous as it is. Unlike the CPB, which sought to limit the ability of people to work within the computing field and to limit the ability of someone to sell their services to the CNII industries, this one doesn’t.

As of this moment, this bill just just for the purpose of registration. I think that whomever are behind this bill probably learned a lesson from the CPB2011 mismanagement and will hopefully keep this bill as innocuous as it presently stands.

Constitutional Complexity

I have been reading a couple of books on our Consti and the more that I read, the more I’ve come to realise that our Consti is a complex creature, which was conceived from a bed of compromises made in the interest of expedience. That doesn’t make it a bad document, it just makes it a complicated one.

However, what interests me most about reading the Consti is the rich history that has gone into it through the years. I am learning a lot about our country’s history through the years, from our founding fathers through the various crises and their amendments, which results in the state of our federation today.

The big question is whether or not our Consti has been worth more than the paper that it is written on. In certain ways, it has been trampled upon with the concentration of power in the central government and the subjugation of the judiciary, which totally undoes the concept of power separation.

Separation of power is a fundamental part of any working government lest it degenerate into a dictatorship, quasi or otherwise. Regardless of whether our Consti is right or wrong, I still think that it is a document that needs to be respected, especially by members of our legislative.

I do not like that my fundamental freedoms are being trampled over by legislation. I want to be able to gather anywhere, with anyone and at any time without having to obtain informed consent from anyone. Personal liberties are extremely important to me.

I hope that my learning of the Consti is not going to turn me into a grumpy old man.