By JO TIMBUONG
PETALING JAYA: CyberSecurity Malaysia is embarking on an initiative to better protect Malaysian consumer rights on the Web and fight online-shopping scams.
It has come up with its own seal of approval, known as the Malaysian TrustMark, to verify for all netizens to see that an online merchant is genuine.
The initiative comes in the wake of e-commerce gaining popularity among Malaysian websurfers and the subsequent increase in online scams by unscrupulous merchants.
More than 170 cases of online-merchant scams were reported last year to CyberSecurity's Cyber999 hotline, and 30 reports of such cases were received in the first three months of this year.
Many of these involved customers not receiving their merchandise, or were given lower-quality products than what was advertised.
"These are just the ones reported; we're sure there are more that go unreported," said CyberSecurity chief executive officer Lt Col (rtd) Datuk Prof Dr Husin Jazri.
Businesses registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia are eligible to apply for the TrustMark seal, which they can display on their sites to reassure their customers that the transactions conducted are secure and that the site is trustworthy.
Also, there is a list of criteria that they must fulfil before their websites can be awarded the TrustMark sign.
These e-commerce sites must prove that they have the proper security measures in place; a procedure to resolve customer disputes; and that they manage customer data in accordance with the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Act.
The PDP Act, among other things, prohibits a business from using a person's personal data without prior permission.
"We want to ensure that each and every online merchant has taken all measures to ensure that consumer rights are protected," said Norhazimah Abdul Malek, CyberSecurity's head of information security certification unit.
She also said that with these security measures in place, Malaysian e-commerce is expected to increase further.
Malaysians are already doing a lot of shopping online. In a study conducted by online payment gateway provider, Paypal, Malaysians spent about RM1.8bil in 2010.
This amount is increasing and by 2014, PayPal predicts that Malaysians will be spending about RM5bil online annually.
TrustMark is part of CyberSecurity's plan to create a safer cyberspace for Malaysians under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
It is currently conducting the TrustMark pilot with five local e-commerce websites and will officially launch the programme in July.