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As the development and use of technology is rapidly advancing, it is becoming increasingly popular for parents to let their children use electronic devices at an early age. Unfortunately, most of the time, children do not have the skills to protect themselves in cyberspace.

A survey conducted last year on parents’ opinions regarding online safety revealed that the average age of Vietnamese children first owning a mobile phone is nine years old. However, the average age at which children are informed about information security in cyberspace is 13 years old. This means that there are about four years that children interact online without being warned about potential risks and how to deal with them.

In 2020, the Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD) and Save the Children conducted a nationwide survey that showed that children often use the Internet for learning (83%), entertainment (71%), making friends (71%), sharing information (23%), shopping (30%) and live streaming (6.3%). It was reported that 40% of children feel unsafe when using the Internet. More than 70% of children have had unwanted experiences such as personal information disclosure, harassing texts, and cyberbullying.

The risks become more diverse and unpredictable and do not spare anyone. Therefore, children need to be educated and equipped with the knowledge to protect themselves and take advantage of technology. In 2021, the Prime Minister approved Decision No 830, under which the “Protecting and Supporting Children to Interact Healthy and Creatively in Cyberspace” programme for the 2021-2025 period was launched.

The Deputy Head of the Information Security Department, Tran Dang Khoa, stressed that digital technology products in Vietnam must be created and applied to successfully implement the programme.

The objective of the programme is to safeguard children against online risks and empower them with digital literacy while fostering a healthy online environment. It also seeks to develop innovative Vietnamese products and applications that enable children to learn, connect, and enjoy recreational activities online.

It is the first national one in Vietnam for child protection on the Internet. Under the programme, a network to rescue and protect children on digital platforms was created. It seeks to enhance public awareness, share valuable experiences, and receive and handle reports from the community about child abuse on the Internet.

The programme outlines six principles that parents and teachers must follow to assist children in interacting with digital media. They consist of recognising a child’s right to access and use the Internet, helping children use the Internet safely as soon as possible; respecting the child’s privacy; understanding the psychology and development of children to accompany them; guiding children to access support when needed; and being available when the child is in need.

The General Director of Smart Cyber Security, Ngo Tuan Anh, said that when schools equip computer rooms with an Internet connection according to regulations, the big challenge is finding and equipping tools to help monitor and manage students. There are technology solutions that can help schools manage students on the internet conveniently, he said. The products apply the cloud computing model, allowing schools to deploy and easily use them at a reasonable monthly cost quickly. A representative of the Vietnam Cybersecurity Emergency Response Teams/Coordination Centre (VNCERT/CC) named three major technologies: protection technologies on operating systems, browsers, and applications; child protection devices and applications on terminals; the applications that support reflections and checking.

Like in business and other aspects, the future of crime fighting will be heavily influenced by technological advancements. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), automation, augmented reality, big data, and all the other most significant trends observed in other industries are equally impacting policing.

In Singapore, an Emergency Video System uses technology that is already on mobile phones. This lets people who call ‘999’ or ‘995’ tell the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Operations Centres where the incident is happening and what it looks like.

This ability will make it much easier for SPF and SCDF Operations Centres, as well as first responders, to assess the situation and make decisions. With these technologies, police officers and intelligence agencies have more tools than ever before to stop crime and keep citizens safe. As criminals become more inventive in their own use of technology and data, SPF and SCDF also help combat the emergence of new types of crime.

The Police Operations Command Centre (POCC) and the SCDF Operations Centre will both be able to use the Emergency Video System. Hence, officers at the POCC and SCDF Operations Centre may encounter difficulties understanding the incident situation during emergency calls, particularly in complex and dynamic situations where the caller may be incapable to convey the extent of the situation.

The Emergency Video System supplemented the Home Team’s emergency call response by allowing SPF and SCDF officers at the respective Operations Centres to start live video streaming from the caller’s mobile phone to assist in decision-making and situational assessment.

Callers would also be able to share their real-time location with SPF and SCDF officers via the system, which would aid in the subsequent emergency response. Collaborations have emerged with other institutions to develop this new capability.

Additionally, where a live stream would be beneficial for a ‘999’ or ‘995’ incident, the Operations Centre will activate the Emergency Video System. The caller will give the operator permission to activate the live video stream from a safe location.

An SMS with a link will then be sent to the caller. By tapping on the hyperlink, the caller’s mobile phone’s web browser will be used to stream live footage of the incident, without the need to install any new applications. At the same time, the system will transmit the caller’s location to the Operations Centre, facilitating front-line emergency response.

During the live video streaming, the caller should stay on the ‘999’ or ‘995’ line while officers in the Operations Centre can talk to the caller over the phone while keeping an eye on the video feed.

Before responding officers arrive at the incident site, the Emergency Video System will provide SCDF and SPF with an additional means of triaging and sense-making. This will also help responding forces prepare for the incident while they are on their way to the scene. When both the SPF and the SCDF are responding to a major emergency, such as a major fire, they may use the same live stream.

By allowing organisations to respond to criminal activity in real-time, new digital technologies are transforming the way police protect and serve the public. It is crucial to stay up-to-date on technological advancements that can assist law enforcement on a global scale and to implement these advancements as they see fit in any given environment.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been focusing on protecting consumer rights online amid the boom of e-commerce and the digital economy since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry launched Consumer Rights Day on World Consumer Rights Day, which is marked every year on 15 March.

The Ministry has stressed the importance of consumer protection in building a healthy environment and promoting socioeconomic development. This year’s event highlighted information transparency and safe consumption.

Despite the implementation of the Law on Consumer Rights Protection on 1 July 2011, there has been a persistent prevalence of consumer rights violations across multiple levels, with a growing level of complexity. Entering the post-COVID-19 period, e-commerce, especially borderless trade, has made consumer rights protection a new focus as there were several risks consumers face online. These risks include the sale of counterfeit and substandard products, as well as the misuse of personal information for fraudulent purposes.

The Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority is preparing to revise the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights to ensure that the legislation stays up-to-date with the evolving landscape. The proposed amendments to the law are expected to be presented for approval at the National Assembly’s meeting in May.

Tran Huu Linh, General Director of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, noted that apart from the online shopping trend, there has been an increase in trade fraud and risks to consumers, including fake and poor-quality products. According to statistics from the Ministry, over 1,660 online kiosks offering more than 6,400 products were taken down, and five e-commerce websites accused of selling counterfeit and/or uncertified products were blocked last year.

Linh emphasised that safeguarding consumer rights in the online realm was a priority for the market watch, particularly considering Vietnam’s ambition to become a frontrunner in digital economy development within the region. The government has set a goal for the digital economy to contribute 20% to the country’s GDP by 2025.

Owners of many online stores are prioritising consumer protection as one of their key business strategies. The official urged consumers to make orders from licensed platforms or official stores to ensure their rights are protected. The Deputy Director of the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority, Nguyen Quynh Anh, explained that consumer protection needs to have stronger and more substantive changes, which requires the active participation of businesses.

“We used to think that consumer protection was the matter of the State management agency and the consumers. Now, enterprises will be a more important subject in the consumer protection process,” Anh said. It is crucial for enterprises to recognise their responsibility in safeguarding consumer rights and ensuring that consumers have access to reasonably priced and safe products and services.

In 2020, Vietnam approved a National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025, with an orientation toward 2030. The strategy helps accelerate digital transformation through changes in awareness, enterprise strategies, and incentives toward the digitalisation of businesses, administration, and production activities.

The programme targets businesses, cooperatives, and business households that want to adopt digital transformation to improve their production, business efficiency, and competitiveness. The plan aims to have 80% of public services at level 4 online. Over 90% of work records at ministerial and provincial levels will be online while 80% of work records at the district level and 60% of work records at the commune level will be processed online.

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is cracking down on telecom carriers that do not stop junk SIM cards in the market. Mobile network operators have been instructed by the Authority of Telecommunications (AOT) to ensure that all the necessary authentication information of the subscriber is provided when registering.

Telecom carriers need to update procedures and regulations on registering subscribers’ information following Decree 49/2017. In addition, mobile network operators are required to uphold their commitments with MIC and comply with the requests outlined in the legal documents issued by AOT. The agency intends to collaborate with local information and communications departments to oversee and inspect enterprises’ implementation process.

Enterprises that engage in serious violations, such as providing services to new subscribers with insufficient or inaccurate information or selling pre-entered SIM cards with activated mobile services, will be forced to halt the registration of new subscribers, the government has said.

MIC is considering strict punishment like suspending the right to register new subscribers for 3-6 months if telcos are found committing violations of regulations on mobile subscriber management. This is the first time that MIC has put in place heavy sanctions on mobile network operators.

Experts have noted that despite measures to punish violators, junk SIM cards still exist because the regulations are not respected. Despite making repeated promises to prevent the circulation of junk SIM cards, telecom carriers have failed to effectively address the issue and junk SIM cards are still in circulation.

According to MIC, Vietnam has 126 million mobile subscribers, and the market has become saturated. Annually, telecom carriers vie for 800,000 new subscribers, but they cannot alter their market share by simply competing for new subscribers. Hence, it is imperative to strengthen the registration process for new subscribers.

In Ho Chi Minh City, it is not hard to buy a pre-activated SIM card from popular carriers like state-run Viettel for only US$ 3-8.5 without the need to produce identification documents. It can be used instantly when inserted into a mobile phone. The price of a junk SIM card depends on the specific number and current promotion programmes of mobile service providers. For instance, at present, the price for a card from Viettel is US$ 6.8.

By combining junk SIM cards with popular communication apps, criminals can spread fake news or images, building their credibility and gaining the trust of their victims for future scams. The use of virtual phone numbers that are not tied to any specific location or physical device makes managing them extremely challenging. Criminals are exploiting this to activate Over-the-Top (OTT) applications with ease, which can be used for illegal activities.

After 31 March, a large number of mobile subscribers without standardised information will be deactivated. The Deputy Head of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority explained that it is not feasible to prohibit individuals from owning multiple SIM cards as they may require them for business purposes. However, to limit the use of SIM cards for malicious activities, when an individual wants to own more than three SIM cards, they must sign a contract with the mobile carrier.

The official also highlighted that one of the key priorities of the telecoms industry for 2023 is to fully resolve the problem of SIM cards with incorrect or missing identity information of their owners. Additionally, efforts will be made to raise public awareness about the risks of using junk SIM cards.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released Ethical Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Biomedical Research. These guidelines apply to AI-based tools for all biomedical and health research and applications involving human participants and/or their biological data.

The recognised applications of AI in healthcare include diagnosis and screening, therapeutics, preventive treatments, clinical decision-making, public health surveillance, complex data analysis, predicting disease outcomes, and health management systems.

To ensure the responsible development and use of AI in healthcare, it is crucial to establish an ethical policy framework that guides decision-making. The ICMR guiding document stated that as AI technologies evolve and are increasingly applied in the healthcare sector, there must be processes that discuss accountability in case of errors.

The document outlined ten ethical principles based on the well-being of patients that must be considered when applying AI technology. These principles include accountability and liability for decisions made, respecting patient autonomy, ensuring data privacy, promoting collaboration, minimising risk, and ensuring safety, striving for accessibility and equity, optimising data quality, preventing discrimination and promoting fairness, and ensuring validity and trustworthiness of AI applications.

The principle of autonomy emphasises the importance of obtaining informed consent from patients, who should also be fully informed of the potential physical, psychological, and social risks associated with AI applications. On the other hand, the principle of safety and risk minimisation aims to prevent any unintended or intentional misuse of AI technology.

The body is responsible for assessing the scientific rigor and ethical aspects of all health research. It will ensure that the proposal is scientifically sound and weigh all potential risks and benefits for the population where the research is being carried out. Informed consent and governance of AI tools in the health sector are other critical areas highlighted in the guidelines. The latter is still in the preliminary stages, even in developed countries.

India has made significant strides in increasing the use of AI and other technologies in healthcare. Emerging technologies are being used to track citizens’ health statuses as well as to monitor health outcomes and identify areas for improvement. Last August, the National Health Authority (NHA) issued hardware guidelines for state and union territory hospitals, clinics, and wellness centres. The aim was to promote digitsation in healthcare institutions. The guidelines briefly describe the required infrastructure for the efficient implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), with a particular focus on quality patient care and the adoption of digital initiatives.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the guidelines provide a basic framework for the planning, assessment, and procurement of the IT hardware (including IT specifications of various hardware equipment) based on the size of the healthcare facility. It enables healthcare providers to operate applications compliant with the ABDM. The document includes guidelines for desktops and laptops; printers; QR code readers; QR code printers; fingerprint scanners; uninterrupted power supply (UPS); and web cameras.

ABDM is a national-level digital health ecosystem that intends to support universal health coverage (UHC) in an accessible, inclusive, and affordable manner, through the provision of big data and infrastructure services, and by leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems. At the same time, the government is keen on ensuring the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information.

Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State (SMS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Development has reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to assisting the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in attaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and urged the international community to assist the LDCs in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The reaffirmation was conducted during the recently held Fifth United Nations Conference on the LDCs in Doha, Qatar. The Sustainable Development Goals discussed by SMS Sim include supporting climate resilience; bridging the finance gap; advancing digital transformation; and bolstering global alliances.

She also discussed the Singapore Cooperation Programme’s engagement with other developing nations to improve their capacity building. “When we adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, we made the fundamental commitment to ‘leave no one behind’. We have now reached the critical mid-point of our journey.”

According to her, it is of the utmost importance to reaffirm this fundamental commitment and intensify efforts to address the needs and objectives of the LDCs. Singapore desires to honour its commitment to the LDCs through collective and real action. SMS Sim identifies four areas where the country should concentrate its efforts.

First, climate resilience support. Least culpable for climate change, yet among the severely afflicted, are the LDCs. To help LDCs create long-term resilience against the effects of climate change, the international community must greatly increase its technical and financial support. In this regard, the country strongly supports the objective of providing 50% of climate financing for climate adaptation.

Second, addressing the funding deficit. The inability of LDCs to reduce poverty, respond to external shocks, invest in their people, and establish inclusive societies is hampered by rising fiscal deficits and debt loads. The global financial system must be reformed to deliver the size and reliability of finance required to accomplish the SDGs.

Accelerate digital transformation, third. The COVID-19 epidemic has expedited the global adoption of digital technology, but it has also exposed the vast digital divide between and within nations. In LDCs, just 25% of the population uses the Internet, compared to 80% in rich economies.

“If we are serious about closing the digital divide, we will need to step up efforts to promote universal connectivity, enhance digital skills and training, and invest in digital infrastructure,” says SMS Sim.

Fourth, developing international alliances. The global experience with COVID-19 has demonstrated that multilateral cooperation is the best course of action moving forward. Singapore heartily endorses the Doha Action Programme’s demand for a rebuilt and strengthened global partnership, with South-South cooperation as a key component. Since 1992, the platform for technical cooperation with developing nations has been the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP).

It began as a means for Singapore to share its development expertise and repay the aid it had received during its early years. The nation has collaborated with United Nations organisations to implement projects in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

The collaborations with Third Countries, such as Chile, Japan, Qatar, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States, have promoted North-South and South-South Cooperation. So far, they have hosted close to 150,000 government officials as part of the SCP programmes, with over 40% coming from LDCs.

This year, SMS Sim will begin a three-year Sustainability Action Package to help the capacity-building of all developing nations, with a focus on resilience-building strategies, green project management and financing, and carbon market development. She added that they will continue to work with their partners to pool resources and expertise to better meet the needs of LDCs.

Indonesia is emphasising the digital economy as one of its three ASEAN 2023 priorities. The government’s goals of speeding up the transition to a digital economy and strengthening the digital infrastructure are reflected in this effort.

The dynamics of the digital economy provide insight into the progress of digital transformation. By 2022, Indonesia’s digital economy is expected to be worth USD 77 billion, making it the largest in Southeast Asia. This amount represents 40% of the ASEAN economic market share on the internet. The value of Indonesia’s digital economy is forecast to exceed USD 130 billion by 2025, adding urgency to the need for a digital transformation.

Airlangga Hartarto, Minister of the Economy Coordinator, stressed the need for enhanced cybersecurity capabilities to foster expansion in the digital sector. By 2024, cybercrime related to data leaks might cost the global economy up to US$5 trillion. Hence, measures should be taken to ensure the privacy and security of digital data.

“I’d like to extend an invitation to everyone here, especially the attendees of the summit, to work together in support of cyber resilience and data security to hasten digital transformation and increase national economic resilience. Let’s work together to make the digital space,” Airlangga suggested when introducing the 2023 DataSecureAI Web Summit in Jakarta’s Central District.

According to the Interpol Cyber Assessment (Report 2021), 2.7 million ransomware attacks were recorded in ASEAN nations between January and September of 2020. With 1.3 million instances, Indonesia as having one of the highest cases.

On October 17, 2022, the government took a significant step towards bolstering cyber security in the country by enacting Law Number 27 of 2022 About the Protection of Personal Data (UU PDP).

Airlangga disclosed that the government is still working on a structural reform plan to achieve economic development that benefits everyone. The passage of the Job Creation Law, the pace of digitisation, and the elimination of extreme poverty all continued as part of the ongoing structural reform efforts. The government also deregulated risk-based business licencing (OSS-RBA) in the hopes that it would become a game-changer in attracting new capital.

Additionally, the downstream development of green economy industries and the improvement of Investment Management Institutions geared towards the renewable energy sector become part of the efforts. Indonesia is working to speed up the transition to green technology by developing electric vehicles (EVs) to distribute downstream goods. This approach aims to ensure that the downstream industry always has access to raw materials by increasing investment in the entire value chain for electric vehicle batteries.

President Joko Widodo has stressed the significance of the digital economy, which he said accounts for 15.5% of the global GDP and serves as the key to the future of the global economy. The internet economy has also helped many formerly underserved areas join international supply chains.

Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy and Deputy Head of the Tourism and Creative Economy Agency have advocated for increasing the number and calibre of people working in the digital economy. “With a projected 20% CAGR between 2021 and 2025, Indonesia’s digital economy is poised to reach USD 146 billion in 2025. It is anticipated that by 2030, this number will have increased to $US 330 billion.”

She has called on people in the digital business to be well-versed in humanities and equipped with problem-solving skills. Those future technological growth benefits businesses and contributes to national progress and individual well-being.

A survey report indicates a growing preference for remote work in New Zealand, with many expressing a desire to replace their daily office commute with a virtual login from home.

For its annual Internet Insights report, InternetNZ surveyed 1,001 New Zealanders aged 18 and above. InternetNZ is the home and guardian of the .nz domain that has the vision to create an internet that is open, secure and for everyone in New Zealand.

Around 60% of individuals were employed in positions that allowed for remote work, and nearly 78% of them worked either partially or fully from home. While this represented a slight decrease from the previous year’s figure of 83%, over half of those surveyed (54%) who had the option to work remotely expressed a desire to do so more frequently.

According to the report, those who had little to no experience with remote work were the most enthusiastic about increasing their frequency of working from home. About half of New Zealanders cited being required to stay in the office for specific hours as a hindrance to working from home more frequently.

The survey found that a net 53% of individuals who had the option to work remotely would consider relocating to a more affordable location with a better quality of life while maintaining their current job. This represents a notable increase from the previous year’s figure of a net 45%.

Vivien Maidaborn, CEO of InternetNZ, said this was food for thought and could stimulate a productive conversation among employers. “This is evolving into a more employee-driven programme. I think it asks companies how to respond culturally, how to respond to make it a positive for productivity and teamwork.”

The survey revealed that compared to the previous year, there was a significant increase in the number of respondents who believed that their workplace culture had improved as a result of more employees working from home. A net 30% of respondents expressed this belief, compared to only 19% in the previous year.

Nonetheless, people have become increasingly concerned about online security. More than half of those who utilised their personal information on the internet were extremely or very concerned about the safety of their data. Online crime, personal data security, cyberbullying, and privacy risks were also among the top worries expressed by respondents.

“There is an overall trend to believe the internet is slightly less beneficial than they believed last year,” concludes Vivien Maidaborn.

The survey found that older New Zealanders, women, and Pacific Islanders tend to be more apprehensive about the most commonly reported issues with the internet than the average New Zealander.

About 74% of respondents were highly apprehensive about children accessing unsuitable material online. In the previous year, 65% of respondents decided not to utilise an online service due to security or privacy concerns. Respondents were substantially more inclined than last year to be highly concerned about individuals being socially or physically alienated from one another, at 19% versus 15%.

It appears that New Zealanders are developing a more mature perspective on the internet, recognising both its benefits and potential risks, and striving to find a balance between the two.

From a connectivity point of view, the proportion of New Zealanders with a fibre connection at home rose to 64% in 2022, up 2% from 2021. OpenGov Asia reported that the government has completed the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project, providing over 1.8 million homes in 412 cities and towns with access to high-quality broadband, covering 87% of the population, according to David Clark, the Minister of Digital Economy and Communications.

The UFB initiative, which began in major cities, now covers rural areas with populations under 300. Combined with other government connectivity programs, the initiative aims to provide 99.8% of the population with improved broadband access by the end of 2023.

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