Bite the Bullet: The Future of Data Protection Law and Policy in ASEAN

  • Jonathan Lim, Space Generation Advisory Council, Space and Cybersecurity Project Group (Vienna, Austria)
  • ASEAN Ideas in Progress Series 3/2021

    Centre for International Law

  • 2021


This paper examines and presents an updated perspective regarding the need for an overarching regional data protection and privacy regulation for ASEAN in driving the open, free, and cross-border flow of data. This is contextualized by ongoing regional initiatives, the state of data protection and privacy laws across ASEAN Member States, and the utility of a stable legal and policy framework in advancing digital transformation, economic integration, and development across Southeast Asia. This centres upon an analysis of prior confidence building measures, high-level discussions on data privacy laws and regulations, and review of data protection laws across individual ASEAN jurisdictions. Policymakers may draw inspiration from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), pursue the development and adoption of best practices for digital data governance, and adhere to a 3C cooperative framework in driving greater cooperation and coherence across ASEAN. The findings of this paper will assist ASEAN policymakers and academics in highlighting existing barriers to the harmonization of laws and regulations, and advancing the creation of best practice guidelines on data protection and privacy. The paper is distinguished in its intent to provide an updated legal, regulatory, and policy perspective regarding the ongoing progression toward a formative ASEAN data protection and privacy regulation.

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