Malaysia affirms social media users exempt from licence rule

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (AP) — Malaysia made an embarrassing U-turn on yesterday after a minister sparked a furor over his announcement that all video production, including those on social media, must be licenced amid a row with news broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Communications Minister Saifuddin Abdullah sparked confusion on Thursday after saying in parliament that every film and video, including those produced by media groups and social media users, must comply with a 1981 Film Act that requires licensing. Applicants must also to have a registered company with a MYR50,000 (USD11,700) paid-up capital.

But he backtracked in a statement yesterday, saying that social media users are exempted.

“The government of Malaysia stresses that it stands by the principle of media independence and individual freedom on social media,” Saifuddin said. “Social media users are free to use platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and others to produce and upload videos without the need to apply for a licence or worry that they will be charged.” However, he didn’t make clear whether media organisations would need a licence to produce news documentaries or online content.