Beijing News Exclusive Interview with Mr. Chung Chae Gun
1. The United Nations issued an e-government report shortly ago. Can you introduce the research results of this report? What are the achievements and experiences of governments around the world in e-government?
- The 2018 UN E-Government Survey, with the overall theme “gearing e-government to support transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”, is the only global report that assesses the e-government development status of all UN Member States.
- The 2018 Survey highlights a persistent positive global trend towards higher levels of e-government development. Meanwhile, the Survey also cautioned that the digital divide persists within the country and across continents.
- The survey acknowledges the progressive reliance on digital technologies in managing emergency responses, performing essential functions, and swiftly recovering from crises.
- The survey identifies three major drivers underlying positive global trends: i) progress in online transactional services delivery, ii) upward trends in open government data and mobile services, and iii) public engagement in the delivery of innovative public services.
- The survey notes a steady increase in the number of countries with specific programmes benefiting women and children, persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous people, migrants and refugees, and people living in poverty.
- Connectivity and access to new technologies remain elusive for some regions and countries, in particular, the African countries, the least developed countries, small island developing States (SIDS) and the Landlocked Developing Countries (LDCs).
2. Why do we need to push forward the construction of digital government? What kind of role will public governance play?
- There are many ways digital government can advance the implementation of the SDGs.
- Through digital government, public services such as education, health care, social protection, employment, business, agriculture, science, safety, and security, among others, can be easily accessible and affordable to greater numbers of people. For example, governments are using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), open data, e-government services and cutting-edge technologies such as AI and blockchain to hasten response and strengthen resilience.
- Digital government also has the potential for participatory decision making for all people, especially the most vulnerable and poorest in the society.
- Moreover, data collated from online services can help formulating evidence-based national strategies and policies.
- Opening governing data enables the citizens and the private sector to create new types of innovations, services, and solutions for achieving the SDGs.
3. China has made great progress in Internet technology, how do you evaluate the performance of China's use of the Internet for public governance, and do you have some suggestion for China?
- China has made significant progress in using internet for delivering better public services especially essential basic services such as healthcare, education, public safety, and social welfare; engaging citizens; strengthening accountability and streamlining administrative processes.
- “Internet + government services” has been transforming the governance at all levels of governments and facilitated the smart governance.
- China should pay attention to the digital divide especially the difficulty of accessing to public services in rural areas due to underdeveloped ICT infrastructure and digital illiteracy.
- Digital by default should become the policy in all levels of governments and it is urgent to strengthen the digital skills of local government officials.
- Chinese government should institute robust data governance for advancing digital government development, with a focus on personal data protection. This is very important to build citizen trust in using government online services and trust in government in general.
- Legal and regulatory framework governing personal data collection, storage, management, and use should be subject to periodic review and updated to frontier technologies.
- Cybersecurity should be top concerns for using ICT and exploiting the benefits of digital government and it is important to have the contingency plan to secure the key ICT infrastructure and continuity of government online services especially in times of urgency.
4. As the government platform has a lot of personal information, we are all concerned with the private information protection. In the process of construction of e-government, how to balance the protection of private information and the data-use? What can the governments do to prevent the private information from being illegally used by the commercial institution?
- It is important for governments to manage e-government for delivering online services and protecting people’s data and privacy.
- Governments can make efforts in various dimensions to protect private information and the data use.
i) Personal data protection legislation should be available and accessible to the public (legal);
ii) Firewalls, antivirus software, Internet security software suites, antimalware, encryption, etc, should be in place to ensure network security (technical);
iii) National agencies responsible for implementation, review and monitoring of cybersecurity strategies should be established (organizational);
iv) Training and capacity building of cybersecurity consciousness among civil servants are required (capacity building); and
v) Continuous dialogue, sharing of best practices and developing a culture of data security and privacy with all stakeholders is necessary for defense against data breaches (cooperation).
5. Do you think the construction of e-government is the opportunity of narrowing the gap between developed and developing country? What can the United Nations do to help the developing country?
- Despite impressive gains and major investments in e-government development by both developed and developing countries, the gap between and within countries persists. There is considerable risk that it could deepen between people who have access to Internet and online services and those who do not.
- In leaving no one behind, the important first step would be to leave no one offline. Various forms of digital divides such as gender and accessibility divides can seriously compromise the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
- Much more should be done by governments in investing in their digital transformation, starting from the telecommunication infrastructure and also the human capital development.
- UNPOG has been striving to advance digital government in the Asia and the Pacific and the East African Regions since 2006.
- In recent years, UNPOG has conducted various researches and organized capacity development activities such as e-government for women’s empowerment, e-government for sustainable development in SIDS, instituting data governance for advancing digital government, innovation in delivering public services for vulnerable groups, digital government for transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies, and exploiting the frontier technologies for public governance.
- UNPOG, as a knowledge hub and platform for knowledge sharing and exchange of good practice, will continue to focus on supporting capacity development of developing countries in advancing digital government development for SDG implementation.
- UNPOG could also promote sharing many good practices of the Government of the Republic of Korea, a leader in digital government and government innovation.
1. From the 1st conference to this year, WIC has been held in China for 5 years, what is your most impressive thing in the internet field in the past 5 years?
I congratulate Chinese Government to organize the WIC for consecutive 5 years, which not only contributed to the development of ICT industry but also government innovation, and citizen happiness in general.
What impresses me most is that Chinese IT companies have been progressing very fast in frontier technologies by enhanced investments in artificial intelligence, VR, IoT, big data and data analytics. I think this impressive growth of ICT industry should be also attributed to national strategy and policy to encourage technological innovation in China.
2. Looking forward, what are the developing trend in the internet industry in the coming 5 years?
The developing trend of internet industry is hard to predict. I think the internet industry should be more people-centered for happiness, higher integration of frontier technologies in all other industries, more corroboration between users, ICT companies and regulators, and more attention on protection of privacy and personal data.
3. What do you expect in the next year?
I expect more IT companies from other developing countries could participate and the UNPOG could be more engaged in the 6th WIC.