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Coronavirus lockdown casts harsh light on our data and privacy online

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A third of all nations lack laws to protect their citizen’s online data and privacy, despite an 11 per cent uptick in the global adoption of data protection and privacy legislation since 2015, the United Nations’ trade, investment and development body (UNCTAD) said on Wednesday.

Reporting the results of a fresh survey on the adoption of cyberlaws around the world, UNCTAD said that the vulnerability is even more stark among least developing countries, amounting to 43 per cent.

The share is highest in Europe at 96 per cent, followed by 69 per cent in the Americas, 57 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 50 per cent in Africa.

“Given the rise in cybercrime, scams and online fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey results are very worrying”, said Shamika Sirimanne, head of UNCTAD’s technology and logistics division.

Trust and protection

If e-commerce is to support development, consumers and businesses must feel that their online transactions are protected, especially at a time when digital tools are increasingly the only way to access goods and services, she said.

The survey, conducted in February, indicated that 10 per cent of countries have draft legislation on data protection and privacy in the pipeline that is expected to become law this year.

They include Brazil and Thailand, which – like Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and South Africa – are basing their legislation on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, implemented two years ago this month.

Enforcement is key

UNCTAD noted, however, that once relevant legislation goes into place, it must be enforced – and developing countries often lack the resources they need to enforce the law.

The ever-changing cybercrime landscape and the resulting skills gap pose a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, especially with regards to cross-border enforcement.

In adopting new cyberlaws, countries should opt for technology-neutral legislation whenever possible, thus avoiding the need for regular revisions and to ensure compatibility among different legal systems, UNCTAD said.

Summarizing other key findings, UNCTAD said that globally, 81 per cent of countries have e-transaction laws, with Europe and the Americas having the highest share (98 per cent and 91 per cent respectively) and Africa the lowest (61 per cent).

Seventy-nine per cent have cybercrime legislation, but with wide variations between regions, from 89 per cent in Europea to 72 per cent in Africa.

Least developed nations, trailing behind

For online consumer protection, the global share is 56 per cent, but the rate of adoption once again varies between 73 per cent in Europe and 72 per cent in the Americas to 46 per cent in Africa.

“In general, least developing countries are traiing behind,” UNCTAD said. The share with relevant laws is particularly weak for data and privacy protection (42 per cent) and consumer protection (40 per cent).

UNCTAD said that more than 60 countries took part in the survey. It also consulted with several international organizations and experts, including the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Council of Europe.

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The drive towards Industry 4.0 in Thailand

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented its Industrial Development Report (IDR) 2020: Industrializing in the digital age at the event “Thailand: Driving towards Industry 4.0”, organized in cooperation with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). During the event DEPA released the results of a new survey on the adoption and diffusion of Industry 4.0 among manufacturing firms in Thailand. This survey is a follow-up to the survey implemented in collaboration with UNIDO in 2019 for use in the IDR 2020. Almost 100 participants joined the event, both in person and online.

Opening the event, Stein Hansen, UNIDO Regional Director and Representative of UNIDO Regional Office Hub in Thailand, highlighted how the IDR 2020 is contributing to the debate on the emergence and diffusion of new digital technologies clustered around the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

“We are living in an era of major technological changes, in which the blurring of the boundaries between physical and digital worlds discloses new opportunities to develop modern manufacturing industries,” he said, emphasizing how new digital production technologies can generate opportunities but also pose new challenges to developing and emerging economies.

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, CEO and President of DEPA, said that Thailand needs to focus on Industry 4.0 and future industries such as clean and renewable energy, robotics and smart devices. He stressed that DEPA has been actively supporting the creation of a digital ecosystem, as shown by the promotion of the Thailand Digital Valley Landscape.

Presenting IDR 2020, Alejandro Lavopa, UNIDO Research Officer, drew attention to the potential of digital technologies to become a key driver of inclusive and sustainable industrial development. However, the diffusion of these technologies is limited and highly concentrated in few countries and firms, as shown by the data collected in Thailand in 2019.  

Lavopa stressed that strengthening industrial capabilities remains a major avenue to engage with new technologies. “Thailand is well positioned to exploit the opportunities opened by these technologies, but the challenge is fostering the indigenous production of digital technologies and their local adoption,” he concluded.

This view was also shared by Kasititorn Pooparadai, Senior Executive and Vice President of DEPA. When presenting the results of the follow-up survey on Industry 4.0 conducted this year, she pointed out that the majority of firms are still employing outdated production technologies.

“Less than 1% of surveyed firms use the latest generation of digital technologies”, she said, “but many expect to engage with these technologies in the next five to 10 years.” A key challenge ahead is to find ways to support them embracing the 4IR, she concluded.

The event continued the discussion of how Thailand can move towards Industry 4.0, with a panel of experts including Keun Lee, Professor at Seoul National University; Kasititorn Pooparadai from DEPA; Ubonwam Lordngeon, Senior Planning and Policy Analyst at the Office of Industrial Economics, Ministry of Industry; Niti Mekmok, President of Thai IoT Association; and Nobuya Haraguchi, Chief of the UNIDO Research and Industrial Policy Advice Division.

Moving towards the 4IR is a long-term project and the COVID-19 crisis is not going to be a long-term constraint for Thailand, where the impact of the pandemic seems to have been milder. “Forty-three per cent of firms reported a drop in sales and only 8% will consider cutting up to 25% of employees, which are both lower than the averages for Asia,” said Haraguchi, quoting a UNIDO survey on the impact of COVID-19. Professor Lee also emphasized that, even if risky, Thailand could escape the middle-income trap and accelerate the catching-up process by leapfrogging to Industry 4.0.

All panellists agreed on the importance of raising awareness about the potential of these technologies, and that an effective collaboration across stakeholders is the way forward to overcome barriers to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. DEPA’s Pooparadai concluded that this event paved the way for further collaboration between UNIDO and DEPA to drive Thailand into the 4IR.

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Digitalization: key to implementing an inclusive and sustainable economic model in Latin America

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Latin American manufacturing has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with significant decreases in industrial production, intra-regional trade and exports compounding existing barriers to growth. However, accelerated digitalization prompted by the crisis offers an opportunity for transformation, closer intra-regional cooperation and trade integration, according to a webinar panel of experts convened by the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) Digital Series on “Latin America and the Caribbean: Manufacturing and Economic Growth in the post-Covid-19 Era”.

Silvia Hooker Ortega, Manager of International Affairs at the National Society of Industries in Peru, observed that enterprises in several Latin American countries had re-shored capital, worsening regional trade and production, with a fall of 22 per cent in exports expected regionally. “This challenge consists of rethinking previous models of development and moving towards more sectoral models, where we can invest in capacity-building and research in order to generate regional value chains that allow us to grow in the region, generate decent employment and ensure that a crisis such as the current one does not affect us so drastically in the development of our countries,” observed Hooker Ortega.

Clemente Ruiz Durán, National Researcher of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, noted that digitalization had allowed the region´s economy to continue functioning. He stated that public investment in digitalization would enable sustainable energy, mobility, communication and transport systems. Ruiz Durán also urged pairing initiatives between micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and large firms for integration in regional value chains, and training programmes. “I propose to turn our eyes towards Latin America instead of the rest of the world,” he said. “I believe that this is a great opportunity and if we do it well, it can be the beginning of a redefinition of industrial development in Latin America,” concluded Ruiz Durán.

Tomás Karagozian, President, UIA Joven/Unión Industrial Argentina, stressed the importance of a regionalized economy, advocating for increased dialogue and consensus in order to “overcome recurring crises that we go through every four to five years.” Karagozian noted that, while digitalization had accelerated during the pandemic, and the region is poised to benefit from productivity increases, Latin America continues to face issues of management and leadership, and value chain integration. “I believe that we must all work on digitalization and (…) towards stronger and more consolidated productive matrices at local level with a great regional connection, and with global participation in terms of information exchange, digitalization and sharing of experiences,” urged Karagozian.

Concluding the discussion, Diego Masera, Chief of the Regional Coordination Division for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said the crisis as an opportunity to move towards sustainability, social equity and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. “Indeed, this crisis provides an opportunity to change our approach to the development of manufacturing in the region. In this regard, we must focus our energies on supporting more inclusive, sustainable and people-centred development,” he urged.

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Use Growth Services to Create an Anti-Cyberbullying Campaign

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While the increasing use of the internet and a good chunk of our social lives going online has benefited us in many ways, it has also given rise to a whole new set of problems that we have yet to find solutions to. One of the more pressing matters amongst these is cyberbullying. The problem with cyberbullying is that online platforms’ anonymity and nature allow these situations to get out of hand really fast. We can use social media to campaign against and raise awareness about cyberbullying. It is a good idea to use growth services such as SimplyGram growth service to get your anti-cyberbullying campaign to reach more people.

The Dangers of Cyberbullying

While many people might dismiss cyberbullying as something that can easily be avoided, in reality, it may even be more dangerous than traditional bullying. Because an online space is always available, a child can’t escape bullying by, for example, avoiding school because it will follow them home. Cyberbullying can go from insults to widespread harassment, and as more and more people start using the internet and social platforms, this problem only becomes worse.

Cyberbullying and cyberharassment tactics include doxxing and publishing people’s personally identifiable information online without consent, leading to their security being compromised. It can also include other tactics like trolling that may appear less severe but can cause an equal amount of emotional and mental distress to the victim. Information on social platforms can also be easily faked, and many people don’t look for verification either. People’s tendency to ‘ride the wave’ also means that harassment can grow to extreme levels, with hundreds of people bullying one person based on false information.

Using Social Media Growth Services to Fight Cyberbullying

To fight cyberbullying, the first step is to spread awareness. Many people don’t take internet activity seriously, resulting in cyberbullying being even more harmful to the victim. Using social media to create an anti-cyberbullying campaign, you can help people understand how hurtful cyberbullying can be and how to prevent it.

The first step to do this is to understand who your target audience is. In the past, bullying was often associated with school settings, but many adults can also be caught up in harassment with the changing online environment. What’s important is to pick a target audience, such as a specific school, and address issues within that demographic.

By using growth services such as SimplyGram, you can expand and spread your campaign’s reach, allowing more and more people to see cyberbullying for the toxic, abusive act it is, rather than dismiss it as child’s play on the internet. By spreading awareness and reaching more people with a growth service, you can help the victims to speak up. They will know that they will be taken seriously, and their problems will not be swept under the rug.

Cyberbullying has often resulted in many people harming themselves, falling into depression and self-isolation, and in some extreme cases, even suicide. A good social media campaign supplemented by an organic growth service will prevent these things from happening. These services grow your social media outreach, which means your campaign will be more effective. By growing your follower base with real people and using the right hashtags made specifically for the campaign, you can reach more and more people and help weaken the growing problem of cyberbullying.

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