ASEAN agreement on e-commerce is signed in Singapore

12 Nov 2018

On the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, the Economic Ministers of the delegate countries signed the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce, which is part of the implementation of the ASEAN Work Programme on Electronic Commerce 2017-2025. The agreement aims to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions and promote confidence in the use of e-commerce in the region to drive economic growth and social development. It comprises commitments on the fields of cybersecurity, data localization and data flows, ensuring that companies and consumers can easily access and move data across borders, without the need to “build expensive and unnecessarily redundant data centres in every market”. The agreement also contains provisions on online consumer protection, personal data protection alternative online dispute resolution mechanisms for e-commerce transactions. In parallel, the ASEAN summit also welcomed the endorsement of the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework, which identifies the economic benefits and challenges posed by digital integration for ASEAN and its Member States, with particular attention to MSMEs.

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Privacy and data protection are two interrelated Internet governance issues. Data protection is a legal mechanism that ensures privacy. Privacy is usually defined as the right of any citizen to control their own personal information and to decide about it (to disclose information or not). Privacy is a fundamental human right. It is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in many other international and regional human rights conventions. The July 2015 appointment of the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age reflects the rising importance of privacy in global digital policy, and the recognition of the need to address privacy rights issues the the global, as well as national levels.

Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss. 

Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.

Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.

E-commerce has been one of the main engines promoting the growth of the Internet over the past 15 years.

Consumer trust is one of the main preconditions for the success of e-commerce. E-commerce is still relatively new and consumers are not as confident with it as with real-world shopping. Consumer protection is an important legal method for developing trust in e-commerce.

 

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