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July 24, 2020, 07.00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, – Malaysia’s FINAS license has been extended to include social media and the government's decision has initiated opposition outcry.

The FINAS law has been in place for a decade and requires video or film productions to be licensed before being broadcast.

Opponents of the law’s recent extension highlighted the implications for freedom of expression.

The National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Act was issued in 1981 hence predating the internet.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told parliament that licenses were needed "regardless of whether they are mainstream media agencies or personal media that broadcast films on social media or traditional channels."

Opposition lawmakers accused the Malaysian government of trying to cast a wide regulatory net on social media content through the revised FINAS law.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the minister's interpretation would have a chilling effect on free speech.

"It is clear the government wants all parties, be it politicians, or social media users to face action for content that may not fit the government's view," Anwar said in a statement.

Saifuddin did not elaborate on his remarks and his office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

Over 80% of Malaysia's 32 million population are active social media users, according to the Digital 2020 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite.


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