New law puts noose around computer techies
A new law now being considered proposes to turn computing into a closed shop, where only those registered with the federal government can work, and it would be illegal for others to offer any kind of computing services.
A draft of the Bill, now being circulated in the industry, is provoking unrest among computer techies.
Potentially, it could turn into an outlaw any boy genius who learned computer programming on his own and does freelance work while studying — or a journalist who learned PHP programming and offers to create and design web sites.
The draft Computing Professionals Bill proposes to create two classes of people with computer skills:
- A lower class of “Registered Computing Practitioner” — people without degrees in computing; and
- An upper class of “Registered Computing Professional” — graduates in computing
Companies would be registered as computing services providers.
Only “registered computing professionals” — computing graduates — would be allowed to offer services or work in areas defined by the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure guidelines.
Furthermore, they must declare their areas of specialisation, and can only work within these areas — another bureaucratic and regulatory obstacle for computing people as new specialisations crop up or programming projects get “forked” into new branches.
The unrest among computer techies is reflected in a blog article by writer Erna Mahyuni » Killing techies the Malaysian way in which she said:
In other words, if I don’t register, it is technically illegal for me to even email ANY MALAYSIAN with even an IDEA for a tech-related project. It would be against the law for me to even sketch, on a napkin, my idea for a new app while having coffee with someone.
Want to know the hilarious part? The country with a bill nearly identical to ours is…Nigeria. So we’re taking a leaf out of their book? Brilliant, Malaysia, totally brilliant.
Dinesh Nair, computer security expert, said on Twitter:
When you outlaw computing professionals, only outlaws will be computing professionals.—
Dinesh Nair (@alphaque) December 08, 2011
» A Facebook page “Malaysians Against Board of Computing Professionals Bill” has already gathered 230 “likes”.
The Bill would create a new layer of government bureaucracy with a Board of Computing Professionals to maintain a register and certify all those who wish to work in computing or offer computing services.
The new law would apply to computing work done within the ambit of the Critical National Information Infrastructure: this is a government policy guideline that states which areas are considered critical to national life. National defence and security is one area — and so is national image, which clearly ropes in media, advertising and PR.
The main sectors are: defence and security; banking and finance; information and communications; energy; transport; water; health services; government; emergency services; and food and agriculture
All companies and institutions in these areas would be considered as security areas, in terms of the CNII, whereby attacks on these companies’ computing systems would be considered to endanger national life — something becoming more real each day with reports of cyberwarfare attacks on defence, banking and health systems abroad.
Specific details of companies covered by this policy are not immediately available. However, for people in media, it’s worth remembering that New Straits Times Press and Utusan Melayu group, Angkasapuri, and Bernama are already considered to be security areas in times of crisis.
Text of the draft Bill » Full screen view