Regional updates: Asia

What were the main digital policy regional updates in Asia? This space brings you the main updates month by month, summarised by the observatory's curators.

Follow the GIP's March 2020 briefing on Internet governance, which will include updates from the Asia region during March. Register to attend.

February 2020

Curated by Amrita Choudhury

APRICOT2020 and APNIC49 concludes in Melbourne Australia

21 Feb 2020 |  Cloud computing

The APRICOT Workshops and Conference 2020 were held in Melbourne Australia. Apart from five days of workshops, the four conference days were attended by 563 participants from 59 economies. There were more than 50 sessions with 146 speakers. This conference marked the 25th anniversary of APRICOT. APNIC also released the APNIC Strategic Plan (2020-2023) which identifies five ‘strategic pillars’ of focus: membership, registry, development, information, and capability.

Pakistan introduces new rules for social media companies

13 Feb 2020 |  Liability of intermediaries, Content policy

The federal cabinet in Pakistan has introduced the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020 whereby social media companies are mandated to set up office in Pakistan within the next three months, create a data server in Pakistan within a year; remove or block content that is against the religious, cultural, ethnic, or national security of the country or spreading misinformation. These rules have been opposed by several civil rights organisation and technology companies.

UNICEF and Bangladesh ICT Ministry to train one million school children on online safety

12 Feb 2020 |  Child safety online

On the occasion of a Safer Internet Day 2020, UNICEF announced that along with the Bangladesh ICT Division of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, they will be training and certifying one million school children across Bangladesh within the next year on cyber safety and how to protect themselves online.

South Korea to fund Interpol's project to combat online child exploitation 

11 Feb 2020 |  Child safety online, Cybercrime

The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) will be providing an additional fund of 2.1 Million Euro to INTERPOL for a three year initiative, as a part of the Fight Against Child (Sexual) Exploitation (FACE) project launched in 2015.

The KNPA supported element of the FACE project would be focused on encouraging better access to Interpol's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database, promoting analysis and operational activity to identify victims, and apprehending offenders in the Asian region. Additionally, the cooperation is expected to help detect producers and distributors of child abuse material and taking down websites on both the Open Web and DarkNet.

Australia launches booklet to protect children online

11 Feb 2020 | 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the release of the booklet ‘Online Safety for under 5s’ developed by the eSafety Commissioner, that offers advice to parents on how to keep their preschool children safe online.

The booklet is the next phase of the commissioner’s ‘tart the Chat’ initiative, which promotes safer online experiences for children and equips parents, caregivers, and teachers with ‘practical resources for having conversations about safe and responsible internet use’.

Australian government published the national blockchain road-map

7 Feb 2020 |  Blockchain

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources of the Government of Australia published a national blockchain roadmap. The document aims to set the national strategy regarding a blockchain technology roadmap for the next five years.

China using AI to screen subway passengers for coronavirus symptoms

6 Feb 2020 |  Artificial intelligence

It is being reported that China is using artificial intelligence (AI) and temperature scanners in Beijing to screen subway passengers for symptoms of the coronavirus. Chinese AI companies Magvii and Baidu have implemented AI-powered scanners across several subway stations to detect passengers’ body temperatures. The scanners send alerts to company workers if they detect that a person’s body temperature indicates a fever. The fever detection system developed by Megvii is said to be able to measure a person’s temperature in a crowd at a distance of up to five meters. It can also measure the temperature of up to 15 people per second at one checkpoint. Baidu’s system is said to detect the temperature of people on the move, with a margin of error within 0.05 degrees Celsius.

Myanmar re-imposes Internet shutdown in conflict-ravaged Rakhine and Chin

5 Feb 2020 |  Access

According to a news report, Myanmar has once imposed a total shutdown of the Internet in the Western states of Rakhine and Chin after partially restoring the Internet in the two conflict-ravaged states some five months ago.

It is reported that the Transport and Communications Ministry of Myanmar (MoTC) had ordered mobile operators to stop all mobile Internet traffic in five townships in Rakhine and Chin, citing security requirements and public interest as reasons.

In a joint statement, 29 human rights focused organisations have demanded that the government of Myanmar halt the restrictions and shutdowns.

Malaysia CERT (MyCERT) issues warning against cyber espionage campaign

5 Feb 2020 |  Cybercrime

The Malaysia CERT (MyCERT) has issued an advisory warning that a cyber espionage campaign has been conducted against government officials in the country with an aim to infect government computers with malware and then steal confidential documents. It is reported that the alert points the finger at APT40, a Chinese state-sponsored hacking crew.

Philippines joins plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce

3 Feb 2020 |  E-commerce and trade

The government of the  Philippines circulated a statement (INF/ECOM/50) among members of World Trade Organization (WTO) announcing its decision to join the ongoing plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce taking place at the WTO, known as the Join Statement Initiative (JSI). According to the statement, the country expects that that negotiations will provide guidelines and rules that will help members, especially of developing and least developed countries, to better harness the benefits of the digital economy. The Philippine’s decision brings the total membership of the JSI to 83 countries.

Australia invests in IoT for farming

1 Feb 2020 |  Internet of Things (IoT)

The Victorian government in Australia is developing a programme to provide US$8 million in funding, guidance, and technical support to help farmers use Internet of things (IoT) technology on their farms. The programme involves cooperation between Agriculture Victoria and NNNCo (Australia’s LoRaWAN network operator); and it will enable sensors to provide users with information about weather, soil moisture, micro climate (leaf wetness, frost, rain gauge, wind speed, wind direction, and light-sensing), plant growth, and plant stress. The aim of the project is to help farmers improve productivity, efficiency, and sustainability.

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