Safeguarding Freedom in the Digital World

Safeguarding Freedom in the Digital World

Digitalization and democracy are two things that related together, and they will always develop even if we try to evade them. In the digital world, it is important for civil society to monitor closely the movement and development of digitalization implemented by the government. If checks and balances from civil society not happen, then the government is able to manipulate all forms of personal data or information they have, in order to stay in power. The issue of freedom in the digital world is also an important topic to be debated, as many people are still unaware of the importance of ensuring, freedom and human rights and how to preserve it in the digital environment.

Thus, on 15-16 August 2020, a workshop on defending freedom in the digital world was held in Tawau, Sabah. It was a replication of a workshop organized at the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) in November 2019. The focus of the workshop is to discuss the importance of understanding rights in the digital world, defend those rights, exploring the Estonia digitalization in their country, and how they take place without harming the freedom nor democracy.

The participants came with several ideas and discuss the importance of digitalization in education, mainly around Malaysia.

Through Estonia; Malaysia can learn several things – which include introducing digitization with a few stages. Estonia has started with very basic technology such as digital systems of car parking, and today they have begun to use artificial intelligence to help their citizen to do daily jobs.

Personal data protection is an issue in Malaysia, even though Malaysia have regulation and law about personal data, I’m still sceptical about how it’s been implemented. Sabah, one of the isolated state in Malaysia certainly faces many issues - especially in terms of infrastructure and policies. When Malaysia implemented the Movement Restriction Order (MCO), there were told, some people having difficulty to spend the night in the forest to get an Internet connection. This shows that the Internet network is still difficult to be reached in Sabah. Without the Internet, digitalization efforts would be in vain. Therefore, this workshop giving ideas to the people of Sabah on how digitalization will help us to do a lot of things, but it also comes with risks and other possibilities.

The participant came from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) around Sabah. As Sabah still faces Internet problems, they are less exposed to the terms of the digital world. Therefore, as a facilitator, I have provided basic information on some important terms such as; block chain, artificial intelligence, and big data. I also ask for their ideas on what can be done at the level of technological capabilities available in Tawau - to help make the affairs of the people here easier. They came up with some interesting ideas; including a flood notification system, a car parking system, and a car parking payment system.

At the end of this workshop, we have made some resolutions to promote the digital world among the people of Tawau. I would like to thank Vera Putri and her team from FNF Malaysia for giving me the opportunities to carry out this workshop in my hometown. After this, hopefully, the FNF will organize more awareness workshops in Sabah, because it really necessities for the people there.