Isoc urges single digital policy

Isoc urges single digital policy

Unified committee under PM suggested

The government needs a unified approach to policy and regulations to drive the digital economy, says the Internet Society (Isoc), an independent internet policy leadership source.

"Policymakers need to take a holistic view of the economy by collaborating across agencies and ministries with a unified approach," Rajnesh Singh, regional director for the Asia-Pacific bureau, told the Bangkok Post.

There are several separate entities promoting the Thailand 4.0 initiative, including the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission -- an independent regulator trying regulate the over-the-top (OTT) players -- and the Department of Land Transport under the Transport Ministry.

Non-synchronised regulations can sometimes cause problems, he said. For example, the NBTC's OTT regulation that tried to control foreign firms also had the knock-on effect of threatening local content providers.

Mr Singh said a single committee integrating the DE Ministry, NBTC and other digital-related agencies should be formed to tackle policy, regulations and other digital economy issues. He said this committee should work under the prime minister.

Naveed Haq, Isoc regional development manager for Asia-Pacific, said Singapore recently combined its Infocomm authority and media regulator into a single organisation, comprising chief information officers from every ministry.

"DE policy is a complicated issue and needs to be brainstormed among experts across sectors," said Mr Singh. "The regulations can either make or break digital economy and cement Thailand's ambitions to become a digital economy hub in Asean."

But Thailand still lacks data privacy laws, which are important for a digital economy to function, he said. Data privacy laws are considered a benchmark for conducting business globally.

In addition, the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices can potentially expose personal data to misuse.

Isoc provides security and data privacy frameworks for IoT makers and system integrators to secure their product and services.

Citing the Internet Society Apac Policy Study 2017 -- an online survey of 2,072 individuals in 40 economies across Asia-Pacific -- Mr Singh said internet users across Asia-Pacific were monitoring five concerns: cybersecurity, access, data protection, connectivity and privacy.

Instead of addressing internet censorship, he pointed out that the country should self-regulate by crowdsourcing industry players and other stakeholders to enforce local laws.

In terms of revenue collection for digital and physical goods, Mr Singh said policymakers can ask for large companies to provide the location of their customers to improve consumption and value-added tax collection.

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