KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — ASEAN has to find ways to collectively mitigate cross-border cybercrime as it prepares to emerge as a competitive digital economic bloc in the post-COVID-19 period, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
In his keynote address at the first ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting (ADGMIN1) held in a virtual environment today, Muhyiddin said the main challenge facing the regional grouping in the cybersphere is staying ahead in two principal areas – mitigating cybercrime and advancing the digital economy.
He pointed out that Malaysia recognised the cross-border nature of cybercrimes and the challenges in bringing cybercriminals to justice as this required a coordinated and integrated regional approach.
“In this regard, ASEAN member states can no longer operate and work in isolation,” said Muhyiddin at the opening of ADGMIN1 themed “ASEAN: A Digitally Connected Community”.
He said ASEAN itself has continuously discussed and expressed its support to the existing set of international rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of states in cyberspace.
Malaysia too is moving towards these security objectives with a comprehensive plan and strategy to provide a secure, trusted and resilient cyberspace, while at the same time fostering economic prosperity for the wellbeing of all ASEAN member states, he said.
Member states’ national enforcement agencies should be equipped with state-of-the-art tools such as digital forensic capabilities to fight cybercrimes and be fully integrated regionwide to be really effective against cross-border transgressions.
“There can be no acceptable reason for falling short. Member states should have more resources and determination than criminal syndicates,” he said.
On a related matter, Muhyiddin pointed out that ASEAN member states could consider legislation on data privacy and user’s right that could be applied to any digital entity practising in the region.
Digital platforms could be required to assume greater accountability allowing them to be sued as long as they have control over their products.
The Prime Minister said ASEAN could also consider stronger legislation pertaining to hate speech through a digital medium that, among others, would compel digital platforms to remove or/and mete out punishment for any speech wilfully promoting violence and attacks.
“This is not limited to harassment and threats against a person or persons based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or nationality,” he added.
Muhyiddin emphasised that Malaysia is committed to providing greater efficiency and connectivity for people across the region and the country has been given the honour to coordinate the development of ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM2025) to be launched during ADGMIN1.
ADM2025, aims to guide the development of the ASEAN digital sector over the next five years, and incorporates efforts to support digital transformation for the traditional sectors, creates a fair and competitive digital marketplace, builds a safe and reliable digital environment, creates intelligent digital citizens, realises ASEAN as an inclusive, sustainable and accessible digital ecosystem and, eventually, creates ASEAN as a competitive digital economy bloc
He also pointed to the fact that the ADGMIN1, which was conducted virtually today given the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrated the progress ASEAN has made as a digitally connected community.
All 10-ASEAN member states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – are participating in the ADGMIN1 convened virtually from Kuala Lumpur Hilton starting with the Senior Officials Meeting (ADGSOM1) on Monday.
ADGMIN1 was previously known as the 1st ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers (ASEAN TELMIN) Meeting and was held in Kuala Lumpur way back in July 2001.