Asean needs new cybersecurity laws to combat transboundary crimes online, says Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean needs new laws to tackle transboundary cyber threats to develop the region into a digital economic bloc, says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

"I believe there are areas under the present laws which need to be reviewed to accommodate new technologies and challenges, especially in the parameters of security in cyberspace.

"Technology has evolved at a rapid pace and so does the emergence of new cyber threats and new challenges," he said in his keynote address at the opening of the inaugural Asean Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN1) held here on Thursday (Jan 21).

He said that bringing transboundary cybercriminals to justice requires a coordinated and integrated regional approach.

"We must be mindful that cyber threats are rapidly changing and encroaching into every sphere of our lives, including how we communicate, how we work, how we conduct online transactions, how we carry out purchases and even how we defend our national security.

"They have also become more sophisticated, complicated and transboundary in nature," he added.

He said the Asean member states could also consider legislation on data privacy and users’ rights that can be applied to any digital entity practising in the region.

This, he said, also includes stronger legislation against hate speech and to compel digital platforms to remove or punish such acts.

"Digital platforms could be required to assume greater accountability, allowing them to be sued as long as they have control over their products," he said.

Muhyiddin also proposed Asean member states to set up a fund to improve digital and Internet infrastructure among member states.

"We could also come up with an online platform to connect small- and medium-sized businesses and artisans across the region, selling original goods directly to consumers, thus, easing transactions," he said.

On the strained US-China ties, Muhyiddin said Asean will engage both economic superpowers irrespective if they may be at odds with each other.

"There may be differences and tensions across the Pacific between the United States and China, but we are happy to work with them all.

"In so doing, we stand to gain from each of these partner countries.

"While we hope they can cooperate better together, we should also cooperate more with each one of them," he added.

Malaysia hosted the ADGMIN1 that will coordinate the development of the Asean Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM2025).

The masterplan aims to guide the development of the Asean digital sector over the next five years.

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