ASEAN anti-cybercrime declaration calls for united front

Paige Occeñola

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ASEAN anti-cybercrime declaration calls for united front
ASEAN adopts the ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cybercrime, a vow to unify anti-cybercrime measures among ASEAN member states and organizations like the ASEANAPOL, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL

MANILA, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cybercrime on Monday, November 13.

It is the group’s first formal declaration specifically tackling the issue of cybercrime, though it has its roots in fighting transnational crime. Such a progression is only logical as crimes committed over the internet disregard geographical borders; anyone from one side of the world can target any connected individual elsewhere.

From phishing, ransomware to identify theft and targeted traffic flooding known as denial-of-service attacks, cybercrime is a growing problem, to which there is no one easy solution yet.

The cybercrime declaration could provide a boost, representing a region-wide effort to fight against the tide. It follows the ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime, which was signed on December 20, 1997 in Manila during the first ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC). The full document is below:

The declaration was endorsed after the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in September and adopted by the heads of state of the ASEAN. (READ: ASEAN officials begin talks to battle terrorism, illegal drugs)  

Cybersecurity is an issue previously discussed in various ASEAN fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN). 

Fighting cybercrime together

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) are a key driver of ASEAN Member States in governance, economy, commerce and trade, social well-being, as well as in other aspects.

However, ICT is also being used to commit crimes. Issues such as the Comelec database leaks in the Philippines, ‘dark web’ markets for the sale of drugs, and cybercrimes like the creation and spread of child pornography necessitate a concerted effort to tackle the issue of countries-spanning online crimes. 

Leading the charge in the Philippines is the Department of Information and Communications (DICT), which formally launched the government’s National Cybersecurity Plan 2022 in May 2017.

With the program, the government hopes that within 5 years, the country will be able to reliably protect internet users, the Philippines’ critical information infrastructure, government networks, small and medium enterprises, and big businesses from cyberattacks. (READ: DICT launches PH 5-year nat’l cybersecurity plan)

Also under the DICT is the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC) headed by cybersecurity assistant secretary Allan Cabanlong. They have pushed for a whole-of-society approach in fighting cybercrime, meaning everyone from the end user to the largest government institutions and corporations need to be aware, informed, and proactive against potential threats. 

The ASEAN declaration is an acknowledgement of this whole-of-society approach albeit on a bigger scale – a regional one and inevitably, a global one. As such, ASEAN member states and related agencies and organizations like ASEANAPOL, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL will be working with each other to combat cybercrime while strengthening each other’s capacity to address cybercrime issues.

The document also points to member states cooperating to provide community education and awareness to prevent cybercrime. –


Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said, “The declaration was endorsed after the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in September and signed by the heads of state of the ASEAN.” This has since been corrected.

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