Cyber-paedophilia in Malaysia: Ensuring pro-active role for ISPs (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This story continues from where Part 1 left off on the rising danger of cyber-paedophilia in Malaysia.

AS it is, Southeast Asia is notorious for being a sex tourism hotspot for paedophiles.

This includes the sexual, physical and mental abuse of children as subjects for pornographic content.

However, the Philippines is the only country in the region that has mandated ISPs to report, block, and report child porn.

Rightfully, therefore, Malaysia which is among the countries with the highest rate of internet penetration in the region must take the critical step to ensure a safer internet environment.

Furthermore, due to the technical capacity of the ISPs, they are well-poised and better positioned than the law enforcement authorities to serve as the frontline investigators and co-regulatory agents when it comes to the identification and blocking of child pornography sites which are typically hosted on the dark web.

This is why we need to ensure that the ISPs play a more active role in monitoring, penetrating, accessing and regulating the dark web on behalf of law enforcement authorities.

However, even ISPs are said to be currently lacking in sufficient technical capacity (in their own right) to penetrate the dark web.

Perhaps, the PDRM should engage the consultancy and technical services of private dark web intelligence firms as well as contract an expert/specialist to be “seconded” to Malaysia for a period.

The contractor would also be responsible for capacity-building and training and development (T&D) of the MICAC personnel.

And if the 2010 Act presents one obstacle to the PDRM’s efforts in investigating and suppressing cyber-paedophilia, then it is vital for the legislation to be amended with specific reference to Section 40 (1) – wherein the reference has been made – which prohibits the accessing and processing of “any sensitive personal data”.

Sensitive personal data “includes information on physical health or any other information the relevant Minister deems to be personal, including an individual’s private communications data”.

A clause should be inserted which provides for an additional exception or derogation, i.e., with respect to the right and authority of law enforcement agencies to access and investigate personal data for child pornography purposes.

Hence, if need be, we need to further empower our law enforcement authorities with the necessary legal backstop.

Enhancing regional cooperation with technology and reinforced policing

The challenge in combating the evil is compounded by the difficulty in tracking down the practice of illegal/illicit transactions that are made in cryptocurrency for child pornography contents.

Child pornography also includes live-streaming of children being abused via webcams. This activity has been on the rise in the Southeast Asian region.

One way to break down and smash child pornography activities is by the cryptocurrency trail which leads right back to the users.

In 2017, a company known as Chainalysis became the world’s first tech firm to focus solely on tracing cryptocurrency transactions.

The firm has been collaborating with government agencies, and its successes include busting of one of the biggest websites for child pornography.

We can build on these successes in the fight against cyber-paedophilia through strengthened regional and international cooperation by not only exchanging information but also actively working together to suppress the dramatically increasing numbers of IP addresses suspected of accessing child porn with advanced technologies.

Again, procuring the technical expertise of foreign-based firms such as Chainalysis for use in the Southeast Asia region is one example, especially in the context of Aseanapol as the embodiment of regional and cross-border cooperation on policing.

Aseanapol should establish a regional cybercrime centre with the specific purpose also of combatting the evil of child pornography.

The shortage of manpower and technical capacity could be partly alleviated by pooling and sharing of resources (including financial).

In addition to technical and technological sophistication to “outwit” the cyber-paedophiles, law enforcement authorities also need to step up the utilisation of other methods at their disposal including entrapment and dragnet and intelligence operations, including especially impersonation techniques and various guises as a user.

As part of the reinforced policing of cyber-paedophilia and, by inclusion, the wider paedophilic activities, there is also a critical need to penetrate the domestic paedophile community also – by informants – to become more familiar with the tactics and methods employed to evade detection.

The rising danger of cyber-paedophilia – which represents a menacing threat to society in general too – has made it all the more imperative and critical for PDRM and the government to intensify efforts and measures to achieve greater success in the suppression of this evil. – Aug 22, 2022


Jason Loh and Nik Nurdiana Zulkifli are part of the research team of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: John T Floyd

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