Southeast Asia is rolling out regulations around cyber, data, privacy as the region dials up digitisation

Article 3_Website Header_1024x512px

The big story  

Southeast Asia is rolling out a bunch of new rules to contend with the region’s digital dial-up around AI, online security, keeping data on home turf, and not letting your personal details get into wrong hands. It’s all part of smoothing out the digital bumps with big plans like the Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA).


DEFA proposes to ‘future-proof’ regulations by being technology-neutral. The new regulations will be more principles-based rather than being prescribed. SMEs will have confidence to invest now to ensure compliance with National frameworks that comply with regional guidelines currently being written up.


What does it mean for SMEs?  
This whole tech revolution is throwing a curveball at the small and medium-sized business to navigate.

  • Juggling different country rules costs small businesses big. Streamlining to one set of rules for the whole region means just one playbook to follow. It’s cheaper and easier—no more wasting cash and time on meeting varied requirements everywhere you do business.
  • The Australian government and businesses are pooling resources for a SEA research fund, unearthing gold for SMEs. It’s all about catching new trends, tech, or strategies to shine or break into fresh markets. Imagine finding keys to win in Southeast Asia or tech to slash costs— a big leg up for small players.
  • Chatting with the Southeast Asian community in Australia for tips on boosting small Aussie business ties with the region is like having local mates guide your strategy. It’s a chance to uncover opportunities, dodge pitfalls, and really connect with the market, giving small business owners real life experience.
  • Compliance costs to address cybersecurity measures, data management systems, and compliance training.
  • Data localisation and protection will require SMEs to reassess their data handling and storage practices. Some adjustment might be needed to ensure data is stored and processed within the region.


What to do? 

  • It’s crucial for SMEs to seek legal and compliance advice to understand how these regulations affect their operations and to implement best practices for compliance.
  • ASEAN and national governments are likely to roll out informational campaigns, workshops, and guidance materials to educate businesses about the new regulations. SMEs should stay tuned to official channels for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce can be invaluable resources for SMEs, offering tailored advice, training sessions, and networking opportunities with peers facing similar challenges.


This is a five-part series looking at the opportunities for businesses across the Australia – Southeast Asia corridor. The insights are powered by Via Group: a communications agency focused on supporting international businesses with their cross-border communications needs across Asia. You can check them out at


See other stories in this series


Share this!