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Attention Malaysians, your Wi-Fi modem might be illegal and may land you in jail.

So your Facebook timeline in the past few days have probably been filled with stuff about politics – from MCA and MIC threatening to leave BN to the PAS-Sarawak Report controversy. But y’know news isn’t just about politics right, and every now and then we’d come across news articles that seem to make us go “wtfbbqptptn”, with today’s one being…

Screenshot from The Sun

Screenshot from The Sun

Okay fine so maybe it was a bit anti-climactic #ihatecilisos. But the truth is that it’s still a pretty odd thing to know that people are still using fake internet equipment when these days, anyone can get a connection with cheap internet plans or even by tumpang-ing the local hipster cafe for their free internet.

When the office internet dies but your editor still wants articles

When the office internet dies but your editor still wants articles

As it turns out tho, there are actual reasons why these guys were using some illegitimate Wi-Fi equipment.


Wait… why are these routers illegal?

loan sharks

Okay we know some of y’all are like ‘wut?! how?!!’, but hold on k we can explain.

See, if you’re running an underground network of illegal activities, you might wanna use something a lil more secure than Facebook Messenger. Or better still, install your own set of networking equipment and keep everything private and away from the cops, just like real life drug cartels.

That’s pretty much exactly why local illicit activities are also using their own set of networking equipment. While the two friends who were arrested in the aforementioned news report were not allegedly part of any crime syndicate, the news report does mention that loan sharks were among those commonly using illegitimate Wi-FI equipment. We also found another news story about an underground gambling ring who had their Wi-FI equipment taken away on top of their other stuff when they got caught.

It's time you learned about the different shark types. Image from cedricstudio

It’s time you learned about the different shark types. Image from cedricstudio

But what laws is having an illegitimate Wi-Fi modem breaking anyway? Well, if you’re going to be using one for your secret society stuff, other than breaking rules about gangs, you’re violating Section 239 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. Essentially, you’re in the wrong if you:

  • Use non-standard equipment or device (like an uncertified Wi-Fi modem)
  • Own a non-standard device that you knew was not certified or regulated
  • Offer to get non-standard devices for others

If you have done any of those sins, you might find yourself fined up to RM100,000 or even jailed up to two years. Meanwhile, if you are caught selling uncertified communications equipment, you’d be violating Section 16 of the Communications and Multimedia (Technical Standards) Regulations 2000, leading to a max fine of RM100,000 or even a six year jail sentence. We don’t know about you, but we don’t think having an internet connection is worth the jail time.


Now some of you might be thinking that a heavy fine and jail time is a pretty big punishment for using a Wi-FI modem that hasn’t been approved by authorities, but it’s actually been quite a problem for the Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC).


MCMC has been tackling the issue to protect Malaysians from accidents and interference

Over the years, the MCMC has been trying to get people to use only SIRIM-certified devices in Malaysia, be it Wi-Fi modems or cordless phones to even those RFID boom gates that you see in middle class gated neighbourhoods. The main reason is that because each country has their own set of frequencies for specific devices to operate in, and if you get something cheap off some Chinese e-commerce website, the frequencies that device uses to work may be clashing with the devices here.

How much money can you save by installing solar panels in Malaysia?

For example, a Penang businessman was charged in court back in 2017 for using a cordless phone given to him by a Singaporean friend. The phone was meant for Singaporean bandwidths and as such was technically illegal in Malaysia. Meanwhile, it was just a few months ago that the MCMC even paid a visit to former MP Tan Tee Beng after reports of frequency interference that were also caused by his cordless phones.

You might not be bothered if your cheap China knockoff Wi-Fi modem works, but if it’s not approved by SIRIM, it might end up clashing with other frequencies here, leading to equipment degradation and interference, affecting other customers and users. It’s not just internet and telecommunications equipment that may be affected either; security and emergency services as well as air traffic control are all at risk of interference from unregulated communication devices. This is of course on top of the fact that with your device not being approved by SIRIM, there’s no way to know if it’s safe for you to use.

Image from MCMC

Image from MCMC

And since we’re on the topic of unregulated communication devices, there’s another thing that the MCMC have been trying to tackle – devices that help people tap onto legitimate Wi-FI signals. These Wi-Fi hacking devices are often smuggled into Malaysia and lets people use another person’s internet connection, even if it’s protected by a password. Doing so not only goes against the aforementioned Section 239 of the MCMC Act 1998, but also Section 236 for committing fraud in relation to access devices.

How you feel when you guess the Wi-Fi password correctly first time

How you feel when you guess the Wi-Fi password correctly first time


You can help by checking your labels and using only certified devices

We won’t blame you for not knowing this (we didn’t either until recently), but the MCMC has actually been running a campaign for awhile now called the ‘Check Your Label’ campaign. It’s goal is to get more Malaysian people to only buy and use communications devices that have the MCMC label to ensure that it’s been certified. Here’s a picture of the routers in the Cilisos office for an example of the MCMC approval label:

Cilisos internet routers are certified #MCMCapproved

Cilisos internet routers are certified #MCMCapproved

In fact, the MCMC even has a mobile app just for you to check your labels! You can download the Check Your Label app on both the App Store as well as the Google Play Store. Alternatively you can also use the website to check your devices. If you’re unsure about that cheap cordless phone you found online, here’s how to check it’s authenticity:

Here's a quick guide from MCMC on how to do it. Image from MCMC

Here’s a quick guide from MCMC on how to do it. Image from MCMC

So now that you know about the importance of these MCMC and SIRIM labels, you might wanna think twice before you hit ‘add to cart’ on that super cheap Wi-Fi modem on Aliexpress promising 194GB/s kay?

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