A 17 year Bangladeshi teenager named Sadat Rahman has won the 2020 KidsRights International Children’s Peace Prize for developing a mobile app ‘Cyber Teens’ to help teenagers report cyber-bullying and online crime in the western district of Narail in Bangladesh. The app also provides information on online safety and how to avoid sexual predators.
The previous winners of the prize include Nobel laureate and Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
After 8 years of negotiations, 15 Asia-Pacific countries including China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Malaysia, have signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The signatory countries represent about 30% of the world’s population, 30% of the global GDP, and nearly 28% of global trade, making the RCEP the largest trade agreement in the world.
Expected to shape global economics and politics, the RCEP is intended to facilitate international trade by reducing tariffs and administrative requirements among member states. The RCEP regulates, among others:
- Telecommunication services, including ICTs, regulatory oversight and licensing, as well as allocation of spectrums;
- Establishment of a list of international treaties the RCEP member states shall ratify or accede to, as well as regulations on intellectual property (IP), trademark, geographical indications, and patents;
- Setting up dispute settlement mechanisms related to IP, stating that the member states shall, in connection with their system of management of the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) names, making available an appropriate procedure for dispute settlements, based on, or modelled along the same lines as, the principles established in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP);
- E-commerce, including electronic authentications and signatures, online consumer protection and personal data protection, to ease cross-border e-commerce, as well as cybersecurity.
Notably missing from the RCEP is India, which withdrew from negotiations last year due to concerns over its domestic industry and the potential of widening trade deficits with member countries, especially China. According to AXIOS, this is the first time when the USA is not in the centre of a major global free trade agreement.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP; have arrested 14 men in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia for creating and distributing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. They were booked under 828 charges. So far, the AFP have identified 46 Australian sexual abuse victims aged between 16 months to 15 years.
The investigations which began in February after the AFP’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCE) was tipped by its US counterpart, unravelling links to offenders across the globe: Europe, Asia, USA, Canada, and New Zealand.
Journalists and professionals from different areas have jointly created a fact-checking platform to systematically address misinformation in South Korea. The platform called ‘Fact-Check Net’ consists of 11 professionals and 33 civic checkers. The professional fact-checking group includes individuals from South Korea’s key news agencies, newspapers, and legal organisations. The civic fact-checkers are going to be specifically trained for the mission.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India will now oversee content on online news, social media, and over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms such as Netflix, it was stated in an order issued on 9 November 2020. However, it is still unclear whether this will include news portals from other countries. The order has sparked concerns over censorship of online media.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore has launched a consultation on a proposed notice on remote identity verification of individuals. The consultation came due to the rise in cases related to impersonation scams and seeks to address the risks arising from theft and misuse of an individual’s personal details. The consultation is open for comments till 9 December.
China’s public antitrust authorities have released a 22 page document that defines antitrust behaviour within the Chinese tech sector. The document has provisions that would prevent online companies from sharing consumer data and participating in a joint effort to remove smaller competitors. In case the document becomes law, online companies will no longer be able to force third parties into exclusive arrangements or treat customers differently based on their data and spending habits. Online companies such as Alibaba and JD.com would suffer the most with such measures. Currently, they account for 75% of the Chinese online retail market.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has initiated an investigation over Google’s abuse of its dominant position in its app store to promote its payments service Google Pay. The CCI is reviewing the allegations of Google promoting Google Pay through Android smartphones and whether sellers have a choice to prevent users from having access to it by design. The allegations against Google were filed in February and claim that Google is violating the Competition Act of 2002, which prohibits the abuse of dominant market position.
Facebook owned WhatsApp announced the launch of money transfer operations in India after the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) approved WhatsApp to offer payments services via the unified payments interface (UPI). The service would be available in 10 Indian languages. The NPCI has allowed WhatsApp to expand its operation gradually; the company is allowed to expand its payment services to only 20 million users in the first phase.
India and the UK have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on ICT co-operation. The two countries will collaborate in developing 5G, Internet of things (IoT), machine to machine, cloud computing, big data etc. technologies.
In order to advance digital development in the Asia-Pacific, the GSMA has concluded agreements with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT), and the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA). The purpose of the agreement with Malaysia is to help grow Malaysia’s digital economy through building digital skills and strengthening the digital sector through better investment and innovation. With regard to Pakistan, the agreement aims to improve broadband access as part of the ‘Digital Pakistan’ initiative. Lastly, the partnership with the Pacific Islands strives to encourage the establishment of a digital society.
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) released a report highlighting the advantages of the Internet of things (IoT) for Australia. The report emphasises the benefits of IoT, such as improving the sustainability of cities, strengthening healthcare systems, and helping the manufacturing sector grow. The report also details challenges associated with IoT use: security and privacy vulnerabilities, establishing international standards, interoperability limitations, and the need to adapt the Australian job market to the IoT era. The study recommends a collaborative approach to: (a) create a IoT research and development community, (b) protect citizen rights, (c) encourage trust and acceptance of IoTs, (d) get citizens and consumers involved in designing and developing of IoTs, (e) develop an IoT workforce, (f) create a flexible and sufficient regulatory environment.
The Parliament of Singapore has adopted proposed amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) to strengthen consumer trust through organisational accountability; enhance effectiveness of enforcement; enhance consumer autonomy; and enhance data use for innovation. This is the first comprehensive review of the PDPA since its enactment in 2012. The PDPA has been updated to be aligned with international best practices from other leading jurisdictions and global frameworks. According to ZDNet, the amendments will allow local businesses to use consumer data without prior consent for some purposes, such as business improvement and research.