Sunday, July 12

Digital economy’s potential clouded by abuse


KUALA LUMPUR: The digital economy’s potentials – potential growth and abuses – have increased dramatically, said Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Datuk Jailani Johari.

He said figures released by market research company, Ipsos, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation which showed declining trust online were worrisome.

“For all of us with an interest in harnessing the digital economy for growth, this trend needs to be reversed urgently.

“Without trust online, vendors will find fewer customers on e-commerce platforms, teachers doubtful to allow students to access online educational contents and citizens more reluctant to contribute their views and opinions to discussions on the Internet,” he said.

Jailani said this in his keynote address at the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute’s (ASLI) Digital Economy and e-Commerce Conference here recently.

Meanwhile, he said, digital economy stakeholders needed to promote better data protection policies to maximise the benefits of digital economy.

“Yet, the consensus is that data protection, globally, is in bad shape. In fact, many developing countries still lack basic legal framework to secure the protection of data and privacy,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the event.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Global Cyberlaw Tracker found that as of 2015, only slightly more than half of all countries had such legislation and it was often poorly implemented, Jailani said.

“Malaysia has seriously embarked on the digital journey with the introduction of Multimedia Super Corridor in Cyberjaya in 1996 and the introduction of important cyber laws, such as the converged telecommunications and broadcasting legislation, namely the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Digital Signature Act 1997,” he said.

Jailani said the solid legal foundation was a key enabler to many digital success stories.

As for the financial sector, he said, Bank Negara Malaysia recorded active online banking subscribers to have grown from four million in 2011 to 11 million 2016, while credit transfers had surpassed cheques for the first time in 2015.

“In the government sector, revenue collection has improved through the e-Filing system by the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia. Another potential game-changer initiative is by the Companies Commission of Malaysia through the Digital Certified True Copy Service.

“However, a potentially bigger problem from the perspective of global trade is uneven regulatory approaches across countries as data travels through borderless networks, where consumers and businesses cannot be sure that data protection and privacy rights are consistently secured.

“It represents a missed opportunity for trade if firms in countries with weak data protection regimes cannot export to countries with strict data protection regimes,” he said.

Jailan said Malaysia has made headway in this area with the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.

“It is also essential that stakeholders from different sectors and levels are engaged in dialogues to update and amend the act in line with the online and cross-border transaction development,” he said. — Bernama