Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Digital Asia links: ode to the Belt n’ Road, rumour quasher, more

Sarah Logan with digital updates from across the region.

Photo: bubusbubus/Flickr
Photo: bubusbubus/Flickr
Published 17 May 2018   Follow @DrSarahLogan

  • WeChat has built a mini-program into its social messaging application dedicated to refuting “rumours”, including postings on topics such as the disappearance of Malaysia Airline Flight 370 in 2014 and “cures” for cancer. This is part of an overall effort to “safeguard cybersecurity”, according to a report released on Friday by an institute run by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. By the end of 2017, the program had quashed “rumours” promulgated by more than 19.7 million users.
  • Experts estimate about 40–50% of Thailand’s draft data privacy law, created ten years ago, will need to be rewritten to meet the challenges of new global regulations on data protection, as well as the demands of Thailand’s booming digital economy.
  • As the Philippines enjoys increasing internet access, the country is grappling with a commensurate increase in Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC). The Philippine Information Agency is working with the International Justice Mission (IJM) to address the problem, which the IJM says has seen more than 268 victims rescued since 2011.
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death in Japan, and Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and Twitter are implementing a range of measures to try and mitigate the potential impact of the internet on suicide rates. This includes inserting messages into users feeds when their messages suggest they may be suicidal, or by inserting helpline numbers into searches.
  • Dozens of internet-connected security cameras have been hacked in Japan, making them unusable at a range of locations, including at facilities which measure water levels, at an aged care facility, and a fish market. 
  • Malaysia’s new (old) Prime Minster, Mahathir Mohamed, has announced he will amend rather than abolish the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018, passed in April this year by former PM Najib Razak. The bill was seen as a way to quell political dissent, and Mahatir was himself targeted under the new laws.
  • South Korea already has the fastest internet in the world, and it just got even faster. A Korean company has just begun rolling out internet speeds of 2.5 gigabites (GB) per second, and will make 5 and 10 GB per second services available later this year.
  • Meanwhile, to the north, in contrast to reports last year which detailed the social media use of senior North Korean leaders, a recent analysis shows that in the past six months the elite have abandoned Western platforms and drastically increased their operational security procedures.
  • The series of terror attacks in Surabaya has resulted in Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry intensifying its efforts to identify and block online content related to radicalism and terrorism. The Ministry announced that as of Tuesday it had blocked 450 Facebook and Instagram accounts, and that material on YouTube and Telegram had also been removed.
  • Even if you’ve never wondered exactly what China’s new social credit system involves, an excellent overview of the new policy, its history, how it will work, and its limitations is well worth your time.
  • Speaking of explanations, a Laotian pop star sets out the benefits of China’s Belt and Road initiative in song.




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