Malaysia cracks down on unauthorised streaming sites

PETALING JAYA – The days of accessing illegal streaming content through Android boxes are numbered as Malaysian Communica­tions and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry...

PETALING JAYA – The days of accessing illegal streaming content through Android boxes are numbered as Malaysian Communica­tions and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry are cracking down on these unauthorised sites.

To date, MCMC has blocked 246 sites providing the unauthorised screening of movies, documentaries and news over the set-top box.

MCMC’s Network Security and Enforcement Sector chief officer Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin told The Star they are working closely with the ministry to block the sites providing such illegal streaming.

“Based on the details and complaints from the rights’ owners which were made to the ministry, MCMC facilitated the shutdown.”

He said MCMC blocked the domain of these illegal stream sites, which provide contents that breached copyrights and intellectual property laws, making it inaccessible to the Android boxes users.

He said the MCMC could act only based on the ministry’s complaints and block these sites as it has no legal jurisdiction over the infringement of copyrights and intellectual property laws.

“We are working closely with the ministry and only through their complaints and the details provided to us, such as their domain and URLs, World Wide Web page addre­ss, on the illegal streaming sites, can we act to block the access,” he said.

He said many of the Android boxes sold in the market are also illegal and do not carry the Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) approval.

“All Android boxes need to have Sirim’s approval. However, only a few of these devices are being certified by Sirim. The others are illegally brought in and sold.”

Zulkarnain said all the Android boxes need to be certified to ensure they comply with a certain operating standard approved by MCMC and that such devices would not interfere or disrupt with the frequencies that had been allocated or approved to the other gadgets.

MCMC appointed Sirim as an aut­h­orised regulatory body to test and approve the use of Android boxes.

“Importers and distributors of such devices need to get the gadget tested to see if they complied with the standard approved by MCMC. The approved device would be given Sirim stickers to indicate it had passed certification and can be used legally,” he said.

He said the MCMC enforcement unit has stepped up surveillance and monitoring on the sales of such illegal devices in the market.

MCMC, he said, would step up its enforcement against distributors and sellers caught with the Android boxes without such approval.

“We know who they are and will act against them soon to discourage and stop these illegal boxes, which promote the illegal content streaming, which breaches copyright and intellectual property laws.”

He said distributor and seller of these boxes can be fined up to a maximum of RM100,000 (S$33,000) and jailed six months or both under the Communications and Multimedia (technical standards) regulations, if convicted for not having the approval.

He said Android box users have to be wary when they use unapproved sets as these devices could be used as spying tools to collect personal data and other details, which could be used for commercial gains.

“The unapproved sets could also contain malware or malicious software that could disrupt the Internet connectivity and steal personal data.”

Android boxes or movie streaming boxes are widely sold in shopping malls and online shopping websites.
Consumers will usually make a one-off payment for the box where they are promised various content, even the latest movies and dramas which are updated from time to time.

Singapore has proposed to ban the sale of media streaming boxes with services that allow consumers’ access to pirated content to curb the infringement of copyrights and intellectual properties.

Local filmmakers here are all for Malaysia to adopt the same approach to ban.

In a Sunday Star report, Paskal The Movie director Adrian Teh suggested: “(The government) should make it an obligation for Internet service provider to ban illegal streaming websites like how they have banned porn pages here. Also penalise users who are found guilty of sharing pirated content.”

Director Aziz M. Osman, whose film XX Ray III is currently showing at cinemas, was quoted by Sunday Star as saying that the piracy issue has been around for a long time.

“It was there since I started in the industry,” says Aziz, who has been helming films since the 1990s, and is the son of M. Osman, a well-known Malaysian singer in the 1960s.

“But piracy can be curbed if the government is involved. In the United States, the FBI is part of the solution. But here it is not a priority for the authorities and that is very disappointing.

“We have to settle the problem ourselves, and we cannot win because the technology is too high end, and anyone can do it. Even I can do it,” says Aziz, adding that almost every production of his has been uploaded online.