IGF 2019 WS #300 Promoting a secure trustworthy and inclusive digital economy

Organizer 1: Catherine Tai, Center for International Private Enterprise
Organizer 2: Morgan Frost, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
Organizer 3: Kuo Wu, APNIC
Organizer 4: Suhaidi Hassan, Malaysian Board of Technologist (MBOT)

Speaker 1: Catherine Tai, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Suhaidi Hassan, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Kuo Wu, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Nir Kshetri, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Paolo Azzola, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

The panel will aim to answer such key questions as: what policy barriers do local private sector actors in Asia face in joining and participating in the digital economy in terms of data governance? How should these benefits of digital economy be weighed against the need to protect fundamental rights? To what extent can the development of international norms and principles facilitate common approaches and interoperability of data protection frameworks, and also facilitate international trade and cooperation? What policy considerations and legal frameworks should be developed for data transfers across national borders for various purposes, including but not limited to the legitimate need to access digital evidence, use cloud services and other technologies, and to carry out digital commerce, always ensuring the protection of fundamental rights? How are different stakeholders working (or not working) together to address such challenges? How can companies, governments, and civil society organizations from Asia support and engage national governments to address the concerns and challenges when deploying new technologies? How can we work towards creating an enabling environment for digital commerce while ensuring trust, privacy, and data protection is being considered?

Relevance to Theme: Many have viewed the digital revolution as a great liberalizer for faster dissimination of information. Digital tools and infrastructure have also optimized commerce by moving goods, services, and investments freely across borders and by allowing anyone with an Internet connection to participate in the global market. The digital economy in Asia has a lot of potential to grow and has been welcomed by governments and the business community alike. However, the risks associated with new technologies and the regulatory responses to these developments are too often absent from the policy debates in Asia. For instance, a committed push for smart cities in Asia has led to ubiquitous sensors, cameras, and other digital technologies that collect and process vast amounts of data on the populace, but without the privacy concerns that typically accompany these developments in Europe and the United States. Whoever controls the information collected with this digital infrastructure will have a major advantage in society, presenting governments with an opportunity to solidify power for ruling elites and encourage the authoritarian tendencies of many government leaders. To push back against these trends, the panel will present policy options to promote the digital economy while proactively tackling challenges related to transparency, privacy, accountability, and cybersecurity.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The rapid evolution of the digital economy has far outpaced the readiness of the regulatory environments. Awareness of the challenges and risks associated with the digital economy is generally low, and policy debates on how to respond to these issues are mostly absent in Asia. Most discussions are still centered on how to facilitate digital commerce by making it more inclusive and accessible. These are important topics to discuss, but there is also a strong need to discuss the critical issues of trust, cybersecurity within and among the private sector, the tech community, civil society, and national governments. To ensure future growth and continued development of the digital economy, the regulatory environments in Asia must be sound, alert, and well positioned to tackle these challenges.


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Description: Governments in Asia are preparing for digital transformations as part of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As countries are ready to invest in new infrastructure and technology, they must also create an enabling policy environment that espouses trust, enhances inclusiveness, and ensures the protection of individual’s rights.
The intent of this panel is to host a compelling discussion with international perspectives on how to create a democratic and inclusive digital economy, while elevating policy debates at the regional and country level on the challenges and risks associated with the development of digital commerce. Each speaker will share their experiences working with various stakeholders to improve the enabling environment in emerging markets, the challenges they faced, their personal perspectives on how the future of the digital economy should be shaped, and how the national governments of Asia should respond by having responsive policies and regulations in place. In particular, the panel will highlight how the rights of local citizens can be safeguarded and taken into consideration as digital commerce continues to expand around the world, in particular in Asia.
Furthermore, it is becoming clear that there is a heightened need for regional consensus around the rules in key areas, including internet and ICT penetration, digital transactions, data privacy, and consumer protection. The panel will start by providing an overview of the legal, regulatory, and policy frameworks around the digital economy in Asia. Building from this, the private sector representative will share how local businesses can better participate in the world economy. Civil society actors and tech community representatives will follow to share their observations on data privacy concerns for everyday citizens.

Expected Outcomes: • The panel will raise public awareness on data privacy concerns in Asia, including by highlighting the differences between Asian and western firms in how they gather, store, use, and govern personal data

• The panel will shed light on the needs for tech companies in Asia to be more transparent and accountable in their use of personal data

• The panel will advance discussions on the regulatory readiness of Asian governments, particularly vis-à-vis emerging e-commerce giants and social media platforms, to ensure that there are responsive regulations put in place to protect citizens’ data and privacy

Onsite Moderator: 

Catherine Tai, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Morgan Frost, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Morgan Frost, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panelists and moderators will all help facilitate the discussion between the speakers and the audience. The speakers will begin the session by providing key perspectives, background, and insights into the discussion topics, the core of the discussion will center on answering the key policy questions. Sufficient time will also be allotted for the audience and online participants to ask questions and join the discussion. Interaction between the audience and speakers will be encouraged by the moderators.

Online Participation: 

The panel organizers will have the ability to live stream this event to a variety of global networks focusing on internet governance and digital economy. The online moderator, Morgan Frost, will filter questions from all online participants up to the panel in real time in order to develop a robust multi-stakeholder and global discussion. Online participants will also have the ability to engage in virtual small group discussions through the online moderator and a polling platform that will be displayed during the session.

Proposed Additional Tools: The panel will use a variety of online tools, including Poll Everywhere software, social media platforms such as Twitter, and webcast discussion features to ensure the widest participation. The moderators will chime in as appropriate to spur discussions and answer questions. This will include circulating guided discussion questions and prompts.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities