Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Computing Professionals Bill 2011: An Orwellian "Big Brother"

The draft Computing Professionals Bill 2011 (CPB2011) which is currently being circulated for "consultation" is an attempt by MOSTI to regulate all "computing services" provided to entities or persons related to the "critical national information infrastructure" (CNII).

"Computing services" is defined as any services provided to "plan, architect, design, create, develop, implement, use and manage information technology systems". Based on this definition, the scope of such services would cover anything from designing websites to the setting up of computer servers to the design and development of any computer products - whether software or hardware. In fact, one would easily classify the setting up of blogs and news portals, or even use of Facebook and Twitter accounts as being covered under "computing services".

"CNII" on the other hand, is defined as "those assets, systems and functions that are vital to the nation that their incapacity or destruction would have a devastating impact on National economic strength or National image or National defense and security or Government capability to function or Public health and safety".

CNII could hence cover any entity in the Government, financial institutions and government linked companies. What is absolutely frightening is the definition would also cover all the way to any website, portal or information technology application which could have a detrimental impact on the "National image" or deemed to hurt the "Government's capability to function".

Any ambiguity in the law shall be determined by the 15 imember "Board of Computing Professionals" appointed at the sole discretion of the Minister, and subjected only to the Minister's approval.

Contrary to the clarification statement made by MOSTI, which claimed that the bill does not restrict the practise of "computing services" and is only limited to CNII, the bill has pervasive and damaging consequences not only on the information technology industry, but also infringes on key Goverment commitments under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees.

The Bill of Guarantees have promised "unrestricted employment of knowledge workers" and "no censorship of the Internet". However the CPB 2011 will clearly restrict the hiring of knowledge workers by necessitating registration. Similarly, the CPB 2011 as it is currently defined could be used to register, regulate and restrict the activities of individuals or corporations to publish news reports or those who use Facebook, Twitter or other similar applications with the excuse of protecting the "National image".

It is clear that the flimsily drafted CPB has the Orwellian "big brother" fingerprints all over it.

The information technology and computing industry has been operating without controversy, issues or impediment for the past decades. There is absolutely no bureaucratic requirement to restrict and control the industry, which will only bring adverse outcomes without any corresponding tangible benefit.

I will personally attend the CPB 2011 Open Day organised by MOSTI tomorrow to hear the Ministry's clarifications on the bill, and to submit the relevant points of objection.


An IT Professional said...

Indeed this is very very troubling.

Charles F Moreira said...


I have read through the whole document and apart from its heavily legal language, and draconian penalties for transgressors and offenders, there is nothing in it which is very different from conditions governing engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. From the wording, it looks like the draft bill is based upon similar laws governing engineers.

These accreditations are to formally certify a professional's ability to apply their academic knowledge within a real world situation with competence, so as to protect the interests of their clients, customers and society at large. It also seeks to accredit years of hands-on practical experience acquired informally.

Also, this is just a working draft proposal which is still open to discussion and objection, so concerned IT practitioners should use the opportunity while it's there to voice their concerns and clarify their doubts with MOSTI.

Also, this is an opportunity to clarify whether private qualifications obtained, such as those awarded by SAP, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, etc can be submitted to support a practitioner's registration as a Computing Professional.

Members of most more established professions have been quite happy to get registered, so why should those in computing object, unless they don't think they can qualify.

If they are really good, why should they worry?

Meanwhile a bill, the Computer Professionals Update Act is going through the US Senate right now which will deny computing professionals there overtime.

"Computer Professionals Update Act seeks to remove overtime pay for IT pros"


Isn't that more draconian and an attack against workers' rights than Malaysia's Computing Professionals Act 2011?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tony. This country needs a change.

tanstaafl said...

The fundamental question should be why there is a need for this piece of legislation? Doctors, engineers, lawyers & accountants I can understand due to the potential adverse impact on peoples' health, lives and finances but computer professionals?

Looks more like another opportunity for someone to make money by creating a need where there is none ... blue ocean strategy ah?