Kuala Lumpur - Birthday messages sent by Selangor BN coordinator Mohd Zin Mohamed to Selangor residents are not a breach of privacy but a show of "love", said Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Joseph Salang Gandum.
Winding up the committee stage debates on the ministry's budget, Salang (right) said that the SMSes which arrive on the voters' birthdays was a "political initiative" to "please" the voters.
"I don't believe that this contravenes the Act... It is up to the Sepang MP (Mohd Zin) to please his voters. You can do the same if you have your voters' telephone numbers.
"I have thousands of phone numbers in my mobile phone memory. If I was as diligent (as Mohd Zin) I, too, can wish my voters happy birthday. That is the sophistication of modern technology. You can keep information in iPads or Galaxy Note 2, there are lots of sophisticated applications now.
"It does not breach basic rights. It is to show love. This message, which I think is nice (cantik) shows love and it pleases someone to know that their MP knows when they were born," he said.
The deputy minister was replying to Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Serdang) who asked if it was a breach of the Section 6 of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 for SMS blasts to be sent about the National Day celebrations recently.
She had pointed out the birthday message by Mohd Zin when the deputy minister said that the BN does not send out mass SMSes.
Merdeka celebration SMS also okay
Interjecting, Jeff Ooi (DAP-Jelutong) said the ministry needs to be careful to ensure that ‘short codes' licences issued to telecommunication companies are not abused.
"The messages were not random but broadcasts. It is not good for us to apologise for commercial companies who breach their customers' privacy.
"The SMS (birthday SMS) has been referred to me, too, and I saw that it came from a five digit short code. A short code belongs to operators and operators lend this to Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) licensees," he said.
Short codes are special telephone numbers that can be used to send SMSes and multimedia mobile messages (MMSes) from mobile or fixed telephones.
Replying on the National Day SMS broadcast, Salang said that, too, is not a breach of privacy as it was broadcast to all and not to specific users.
He said that the telecommunications companies had sent these messages as a "social service" as part of corporate social responsibility and to "show love for the country".
"If anyone sent me an SMS informing me of the date, time and venue of a National Day celebration, I would not find it a breach of my basic rights. I will laud it as I love this country.
"I don't think the personal data was sold (by the telecommunications companies), this is a message I receive because I am a subscriber to their service," he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister said he will obtain information from the MCMC on lewd MMSes received by Teo, about which she had lodged a report, and provide a written reply on the matter.--Courtesy of Malaysiakini