Sarawak minister calls for new cross-border data regulation to fuel digital economy growth

Julaihi delivering a special address during the Digital Economy Leaders' Summit 2023 in conjunction with Smart Nation Expo 2023 held in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 19, 2023.

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KUCHING, Sept 19: Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi has highlighted the urgent need for a new regulatory framework governing international data flows to ensure equitable sharing of economic development gains while affectively mitigating associated risks.

Julaihi pointed out that the inadequacies of current regional and international regulatory frameworks, which tend to be too narrow in scope or limited geographically, have impeded cross-border data flows and exchanges.

“Data play an increasingly important role as an economic and strategic resource, a trend reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic as many activities moved online.

“Cross-border data flows are a new kind of international economic flow, which lead to a new form of global interdependence. As such regulating data flows at the international level has become more urgent,” he said.

Julaihi raised this when delivering a special address titled ‘Charting Sarawak’s Digital Transformation’ during the Digital Economy Leaders’ Summit 2023 in conjunction with Smart Nation Expo 2023 held in Kuala Lumpur today.

Increasing digitalisation of the economy and society, Julaihi shared, is changing the way people act and interact, notably the exponential growth in machine-readable information, or digital data, over the Internet.

“The global internet traffic had reached 400 exabytes per month in 2022 with Asia-Pacific accounting to nearly 40 per cent of the traffic.

“Such data, dubbed as a new currency, is core to all fast-emerging frontier digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and all Internet-based services that are needed for digital economy,” he added.

While digital transformation is advancing at a rapid pace creating new and exciting opportunities, Julaihi however observed that the benefits it yields are distributed unevenly despite its widespread impact.

“Our regulatory framework is fundamental in boosting investment in digital economy. This framework needs to be flexible and adaptable to technology advancements that will lead to innovative business models and competition, while also safeguarding stakeholder interests

“We need to understand our digital readiness and what interventions and investments could help us to address our economic, social and environmental agenda. These will need to be delivered through concerted planning and investment by both the public and private sectors,” he stressed.

Also in attendance were Deputy Minister of Telecommunication Datuk Liwan Lagang, Deputy Minister of Utility Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, and Permanent Secretary to the Minister Jafri Lias. — DayakDaily