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Internet Society Survey on Policy Issues in APAC 2017 finds cybersecurity as the top Internet policy concern

Above image: Top five policy concerns from 2014 to 2017 in past surveys. Image credit: Internet Society

The Internet Society recently completed the final annual report of their Survey on Policy Issues in APAC 2017, which takes an in-depth look at how the region perceives and deals with personal information online, and the extent to which various entities are trusted to protect people’s personal information and privacy rights. (OpenGov recently interviewed Mr. Rajnesh Singh, Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) Regional Director at the Internet Society, who shared his insights on Internet access and the digital economy in the region. Read Part I of the interview here).                     Background                    2072 individuals from 40 economies across APAC responded to the online survey, which ran from March 6 to April 19 2017. Respondents were scattered across all age groups, but leaned towards a younger demographic—53% were between 15-34 years old, 27% were aged 35-44, and the remaining 20% were 45 years or older. Twenty-three per cent were affiliated with the private sector, 21% with the technical community, 21% with academia, 18% with civil society and 16% with government.                    Selected Key Findings                    Over the past year, Internet users across APAC were monitoring cybersecurity, access, data protection, connectivity and privacy, above other policy-related concerns in the region. These have remained more or less constant since 2014. However, cybersecurity has risen to become the top Internet policy concern in the region in this year’s survey.                    Cloud computing and e-commerce continue to be within users’ top ten Internet policy-related issues, along with big data, consumer protection, cybercrime, freedom of expression and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Respondents felt that the Internet became a more regulated space in 2016, which affected their online behaviour in both positive and negative ways.

The year 2016 witnessed several dimensions of the online environment becoming subject to regulations in the region. Existing laws were revised and new ones established relating particularly to cybersecurity and data protection in response to rising cybercrime incidences.                    63% of the women and 72% of the men strongly agreed or agreed that the Internet became a more regulated space last year. A number of respondents expressed concern for:

  • The need to regulate fake news
  • Increased surveillance that violates privacy rights
  • Increased censorship and blocking of sites that affects freedom of expression
  • The lack of online child protection

Building trust in the Internet is important: More than half (55%) of the respondents indicated that they were either of the respondents indicated that they were either highly unlikely or unlikely to use online services if there were no guarantees that their personal information would be fully protected.

Without sufficient online data protection, 50% of the women and 40% of the men said that they were highly unlikely to use online banking and financial services, and about 40% of the women and men were highly unlikely to use e-commerce sites and online shops.

Online privacy concern did match the ability to protect oneself online. Over 70% of respondents felt that their personal information was not sufficiently protected online. Yet, close to 60% of the respondents believed that they did not have sufficient knowledge and tools to protect their privacy online.

This figure is slightly higher among women (68%) than men (54%). More than half (60%) of those from high-income economies had similar sentiments.

A larger percentage of the population in the APAC region trusted traditional services such as banks, public authorities banks, public authorities and health institutions, and had less trust of online service providers.

Respondents placed varying degrees of confidence on the entities with which they tend to regularly interact with online: A larger percentage (between 20% and 30%) fully trusted traditional services, such as banks and financial services, national public authorities, and health and medical institutions with protecting their personal data.                    Less than 10% fully trusted Internet service providers, e-commerce sites and online shops, and online content service providers.

Respondents viewed the protection of personal data as a collective responsibility.

Over half to three-fourths of respondents felt that more than one entity is responsible for keeping their personal information secure:

  • Organisations that collect data (specifically 77%)
  • Government (74%)
  • Organisations that hold/store data (72%)
  • Respondents' own responsibility (66%)
  • Organisations that process/analyse data (64%)
  • Third-party service providers that may be providing the above services to an organisation (56%)

The full report is available here.

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