IGF 2018 WS #412
Data Protection-Perspectives from Asia Pacific

Organizer 1: Talal Raza, Media Matters for Democracy Pakistan
Organizer 2: Komal Mughal, Media Matters for Democracy

Speaker 1: Latha Reddy, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Yik Chan Chin, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Babu Ram Aryal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Smitha Krishna Prasad, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Talal Raza

Online Moderator

Sadaf Khan


Komal Mughal


Panel - 90 Min


Since it will be a panel discussion, the moderators will first start off by introducing the panelists, the purpose of the discussion and then throw specific questions at the panelists to comment on data protection issues from their country-specific perspective. The discussion among the panelists shall last 60 minutes. Afterward, the floor will be open for comments and questions for 30 minutes.


In the proposed session, we have tried to ensure a balance between gender and also the diversity of the region. We have at least one proposed speaker from Pakistan, India, China, and Nepal, three persons are from civil society and one each from tech and government.
Ms. Latha Reddy
Ms. Smitha K Prasad
Ms. Jehan Ara
Ms. Yik Chan Chin
Mr. Babu Ram Aryal

With the rise in internet penetration and increased digitalization of data, governments around the world have increasingly become conscious of the importance of data privacy. According to a research carried out by IBM, the annual cost of data loss accrued by around 400 organizations in 11 countries in 2016 stood at US$ 3.62 million. As more countries are evaluated and technological interdependence increases, this cost is bound to rise in the coming years. The increased exchange of data between states also brings increased danger to the privacy of individuals. This is because regulating vast data exchanges between countries becomes more and more widespread and increasingly difficult to oversee. Mindful of the fact that data breaches could have severe economic and human rights implications, 100 countries around the world have put in place data protection laws.
In South Asia and neighboring country from Asia Pacific China, no country has a specific local data protection law. On the other hand, there have been multiple instances over the past one year where massive data breach took place including the data breach of 14 million Careem customers, data breach of Uber, concerns around misuse of data by Facebook and some other local data breaches involving government authorities including Punjab Information Technology Board and National Database registration authority in Pakistan. This only point towards the fact that the need for data protection is increasing with every passing day.
This raises a pertinent question. Is the data protection framework owing to lack of political will or due to the political instabilities? While the answer has never been explored in the past, this panel discussion aims to bring together panelists from Asia Pacific countries (having no specific data protection law) to explore the regional challenges to the enactment of specific data protection laws in Asia Pacific . Building upon the need to have data protection framework, it will also try to map growing instances of data breaches within the private and public sector. Lastly, a lot of conversation around data protection often takes place in a gender-neutral perspective without realizing the fact that misuse of data may affect different genders differently. Therefore, there is a dire need to look at data protection from the gendered perspective and understand how men and women may be affected by data breaches and subsequent lack of redressal data protection mechanisms. The panel will also try to explore the Asia Pacific perspective on data protection and gender and project how the debate around gender and data protection might be different than in other regions.

The onsight moderator will lay the groundwork for the discussion among the panelists. For the first 60 minutes, the panelists will be given the chance to talk at length about issues. It will be followed by participation from the onsite audience for 15 minutes. The last 15 minutes will be left for the online audience to comment and ask questions from the panelists. While the onsite moderator will be directing the questions at panelists and managing the audience, the offsite moderator will be tweeting and shortlisting questions and comments from the panelists.

The debate around data protection has always been dominated by the perspectives of the developed countries. However, it gives little room to the experts of Asia Pacific to sit together and understand the regional dynamics and challenges related to data protection. This panel discussion will be an attempt to put forth the regional issues related to data protection. The Asia Pacific perspective has not been thoroughly explored in the IGFs of the past.
Also, the debate becomes more relevant given that we have General Data Protection Regulation having global implications and affect all the corporations and organizations in the Asia Pacific. There have been reports that organizations are scrambling to make amendments to their privacy policies. Thus it would be interesting to learn about the preparedness or lack of willingness on the government's’ part to enact data protection laws for the local population. Also, given the fact that major data breaches have taken place not only globally but also in the South Asian region and China, the session will allow us to bring to limelight the seriousness of data privacy violations that have been taking place with impunity in both private and public sector.

Online Participation

We will try to give at least one speaker a chance to participate remotely in the discussion. Apart from that. we will encourage online listeners and viewers to ask questions. The online moderator will be in charge of tweeting the discussion points and shortlisting online questions to be asked from the panelists. Those questions will be chosen from an online audience that remained unaddressed onsight.
Also for the remote online participation, we would like to take Mr. Furhan Hussain. Furhan is a digital security consultant with frontline defenders from Pakistan. He has done extensive research on data protection in Pakistan.