Special Cyber Court
The number of cybercrime cases in Malaysia has increased at an average of 10,000 cases reported every year. It was reported that in 2015 alone, CyberSecurity Malaysia received 3,752 cases of online fraud and hacking along with a staggering figure of 191,096 reports of malicious malware and botnet infections. CyberSecurity Malaysia believes that there are many more cases that may have gone unreported or unnoticed by the victims.
From the statistics garnered, an average of 30 Malaysian Internet users fall victim to cybercrimes every day, and fraud and intrusion cases appear to be the most common offences faced by Malaysians. According to a UK based market research firm Juniper Research, global cybercrime losses are projected to reach USD 2 Trillion by 2019. Based on statistics given by the Malaysian Government, Malaysia lost RM179.3 million to cybercrime in 2015.
In light of the increasing threat in cybercrime and the need for effectively dealing with cybercrime cases, the Government has announced the establishment of the Special Cyber Court. The 1st Special Cyber Court, based at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex came into operation on 1 September 2016.
Owing to the high rates of cybercrime in other States, subsequent phases will see the establishment of Special Cyber Courts in Selangor and Johor, followed by the remaining States within the next couple of years.
Functions of Special Cyber Court
The purpose of this initiative is to provide the judicial system with sufficient and adequate means of handling cybercrime offences, such as hacking, online fraud/scamming, botnet attacks, online defamation, sedition and harassment, web-defacement, theft of online information, cyber gambling and pornography, etc.
The Special Cyber Court will deploy specialised and trained judges to hear cases relating to cybercrime and other computer related civil matters. The Special Cyber Court is expected to function in the same way as other special courts such as those that are already in place to deal with intellectual property, corruption, environmental as well as anti-profiteering matters.
Interestingly, in the same statement that was released regarding the establishment of the Special Cyber Court, a statement was also made that the Government will also set up a special team to assist the authorities in tracing slanderous and seditious statements made on social media and on the Internet. The combination of these two messages suggests that anti-government sentiment in the form of statements on social media is one of the drivers behind the establishment of the Special Cyber Court.
The Special Cyber Court is already in operation and it currently hears cases related to cybercrime. Its ambit will ultimately extend to civil and tort related matters as well, as per the Practice Direction No.5 of 2016 issued by the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia. The first judge to sit in the Special Cyber Court is Tuan Zaman bin Mohamad Noor.
Benefits of Special Cyber Court
The establishment of the Special Cyber Court will hopefully help expedite disposal of cybercrime cases, strengthen the legal institutions in Malaysia as well as reduce cybercrimes. The Special Cyber Court will be equipped with appropriate tools and equipment to handle evidence gathered in cybercrime cases. Judges, prosecutors and other relevant stakeholders will be given training to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary IT knowledge and skills which will help them in understanding the complex subject matter of cybercrime.
Way forward for Special Cyber Court
The Government’s initiative in introducing the Special Cyber Court to combat the rising trend of cybercrimes is indeed commendable and marks a step in the right direction. To ensure the successful implementation of the Special Cyber Court, it is hoped that the Government will:
- put in place the necessary legal frameworks (processes, procedures and practices) to enable and support the establishment of the Special Cyber Court;
- make amendments to certain cyber laws on the practices and procedures for handling cybercrime cases, electronic and digital forensics evidence;
- train judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other relevant stakeholders in the field of cybercrime and computer forensics so that they can understand the nuances and
issues pertaining to detection, investigation, prosecution of cybercrimes and have better appreciation and analysis of the evidence and submissions presented in courts; and
- conduct case studies and analysis to learn the lessons and past experiences of cyber court in other jurisdictions.
The introduction of the Special Cyber Court marks a significant milestone for Malaysia, as it is the first specialised court in this region designed to only handle cybercrime cases. It shows the Government’s commitment in fighting cybercrimes, and we hope that with this initiative, the public awareness towards protecting themselves from cybercrime threats will also increase.
While cyber court is still a very new concept, many countries including Malaysia have introduced electronic court (“E-Court”). Essentially, E-Court utilises supportive technology to facilitate the day-in day-out functions of a court. The aim of the system is to efficiently speed up the disposal of cases using technology. The shift towards computerisation of the courts system in Malaysia began in 2009 and the E-Court system was fully implemented in main Court Complexes in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Ipoh, Penang, Johor Bharu, Sabah, Sarawak and Putrajaya in March 2011. To date, more than one million cases and six million documents have been filed online via the E-Court system.
4 Types of Mechanism
The E-Court system in Malaysia currently has 4 types of mechanism, as follows:
- Video Conferencing System (VCS);
- Case Management System (CMS);
- Community and Advocate Portal System (CAP); and
- Case Recording and Transcribing (CRT).
The E-Court system as a whole aims to use technology to address problems which have plagued the judicial system for years. Since the introduction of the E-Court system, 80% of the pending cases were reduced in the first 12 months. It also recorded a 50% reduction in days required for trial, judgment, filing and service. The E-Court system enables courts and lawyers to be more efficient in observing a strict schedule and effective case management system. E-Court also presents a huge step towards a paperless environment, where it greatly reduces stacks of ﬁles and paperwork in court ofﬁces and judicial chambers.
Phase 2 of E-Court System
Phase two of the E-Court system has commenced in January 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by July 2017. Under this phase two, the E-Court system will be extended to the rest of the courthouses throughout Malaysia. The upgrade is timely as phase one of the system has reached its maximum capacity. There is a need to expand the capacity to allow more users to use the system and address the performance challenges faced by the courts.
Phase two will also incorporate the integration of several government agencies such as the Police Department, Road Transport Department, Immigration Department, National Registration Department, Insolvency Department, and Prison Department to a new platform that controls all transactions and streamlines the operations between the different agencies. A court bidding system will also be brought online, which marks an effort by the Government to increase integrity and transparency in the bidding system and to remove manipulation and abuse in the existing manual bidding system. A new mobile app allowing lawyers to perform filing activities will also be rolled out soon.
In view of the recent developments in both Special Cyber Court and E-Court, this is indeed an area to watch out for on the administration of justice front. It is encouraging to see the Government taking concrete actions to make use of technology in administering and discharging justice.