Cybersecurity was under the spotlight during the 32nd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore on April 28, 2018. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore emphasised the importance of cyber issues in his remarks, noting that deeper regional cooperation and coordination was needed to keep up with the rapid pace of digitalisation.
New regional initiatives have been introduced – from the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme (ACCP) in 2016 to the new ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy adopted in 2017.
A number of regional partners and international organisations such as Interpol and the United Nations have also been working with Southeast Asian states on cyber issues.
Besides, several member-countries of ASEAN have set up new cyber agencies. In Indonesia, for instance, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) inaugurated a national cyber agency called the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) in June 2017.
The number of internet users in Indonesia has reached some 132 million, making it is crucial for the country to develop reliable cybersecurity mechanisms. President Jokowi at the Singapore summit underscored the need for ASEAN to stay alert against cyber attacks. To that end, member-states needed to work more closely on digital technology and cyber security, he said while addressing a plenary of the 32nd ASEAN Summit.
“We know there has been abuse of personal data by Facebook users. In ASEAN, we need to ensure the framework of cooperation in cyber security, which also contains the protection of personal data. Hence, cooperation in the cyber field is a must,” he said.
Jokowi said ASEAN had very large potential in the e-commerce field. “E-commerce shopping is projected at almost US$90 billion and total internet-based economy is estimated at US$200 billion,” he said.
In wrapping up the summit, the leaders of ASEAN, which includes Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, issued a statement on cyber security cooperation.
They shared the vision of a peaceful, secure and resilient regional cyberspace that served as an enabler of economic progress, enhanced regional connectivity and betterment of living standards for all.
The leaders also noted the pervasiveness of cyber threats that had long been considered an international problem, and the increasing sophistication of the ever-evolving and transboundary cyber threats facing their region amidst widespread economic digitisation and the proliferation of Internet-connected devices across ASEAN.
Therefore, they recognised that cyber security was an issue that required coordinated expertise from multiple stakeholders from across different domains.
The leaders affirmed the need for ASEAN to speak with a united voice at international discussions aimed at developing policy and capacity-building frameworks with regard to cyber security to more effectively advance regional interests.
Besides, they also noted the outcomes of discussions in various ASEAN sectoral fora that had called for greater regional cooperation in cyber security policy development, diplomacy, cooperation and capacity building, such as the Chairman`s Statement of the 31st ASEAN Summit on November 13, 2017, in Manila, Philippines.
ASEAN reaffirmed the need to build closer cooperation and coordination among member-states on cyber security policy development and capacity building initiatives, including through the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme, the AMCC and the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre.
The leaders tasked relevant Ministers from all member-states to make progress on discussions by ASEAN ICT and Cybersecurity Ministers at the AMCC, TELMIN, as well as other relevant sectoral bodies such as the AMMTC, to identify a concrete list of voluntary, practical norms of State behaviour in cyberspace that ASEAN coud work towards adopting and implementing.
Finally, ASEAN wouldl facilitate cross-border cooperation in addressing critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, as well as to encourage capacity-building and cooperative measures to address the criminal or terrorist use of cyberspace, taking reference from the voluntary norms recommended in the 2015 Report of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.
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