Deputy Home Minister: Police Have The Authority To Check Your Phones Any Time They Want
Deputy Home Minister Mohd Azis Jamman said the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has the authority to inspect anybody's mobile phone during a random check
Azis made the comment when replying to Alor Setar Member of Parliament, Chan Ming Kai, at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, 18 November, reported Bernama.
He explained that such a measure is necessary to maintain public order and protect the safety of the nation.
Azis said the police can invoke the right under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998
The provision deals with transmitting obscene, offensive, or false communication with the intent to harass or threaten another person.
"Through this section, any police officer may take action by reviewing any network facility or network service including mobile phones of persons suspected of committing an offence," New Straits Times quoted Azis as saying.
Chan then asked what are the reasonable grounds for the police to run a mobile phone check
The Alor Star MP said there have been cases where individuals had their phones confiscated without knowing the circumstances they were in.
In response, Azis said the police can take action for the purpose of inspecting any network services and mobile phones in accordance with the provisions under Sections 103, 104, and 106 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593) in Chapter 12: Preventive Action of the Police.
Sections 103 and 104 of the CPC allows police to take preventive action - without warrants - against a suspect from committing a seizable offence, while Section 106 allows police to take action to prevent any public property damage.
According to AskLegal, apart from serious crimes such as robbery, murder, or rape, spreading fake news is also a seizable offence.
Azis said that while the police have the authority to check mobile phones, members of the public should still remember their rights
"However, the public should be aware of their rights during a random check, including requesting the identity of the police officer conducting the search for record purposes, in case there is a breach of the standard operating procedures (SOP)," Azis said.
Following Azis' statement, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan refuted that the police hold such a power
Musa told Free Malaysia Today that an individual's mobile phone can only be checked if it is linked to an investigation, in which a police report must first be lodged against the individual.
He clarified that the police cannot stop "any Tom, Dick, or Harry" and ask to see their phones.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Foong Cheng Leong contended that although the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 allows the police to inspect a mobile phone without warrants, the action can only be done by an officer above the rank of an inspector.