U.S.-Japan-Southeast Asia Fellowship Year 2 Fellow: Mark Bryan Manantan


Residency:  March 2020

BiographyMark Bryan Manantan

Mark Bryan Manantan is the founder and strategic director of Bryman media, a social impact communications firm based in the Philippines. Currently, he is a Young Leader’s fellow at the Pacific Forum and a visiting fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the National Chengchi University. He is also an ambassador of Project Yaksha, a cybersecurity awareness program organized by the European Commission and ASEAN Secretariat. Mr. Manantan’s current project focuses on the Philippines-Australia-Japan trilateral cooperation; Taiwan-ASEAN relations under the New Southbound policy; Chinese cyber warfare, and the practice of cyber diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific. His work has been published by Asian Politics and Policy, The Diplomat, the Global Taiwan Institute, Australian Institute of International Affairs, Observer Research Foundation, Formiche, The Philippine Star, and Rappler. Mr. Manantan obtained his Master of International Relations (Advanced) with Honours at the Australian National University and his Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication (magna cum laude) from the University of the Philippines.

Research interests: cybersecurity, cyber diplomacy, internet governance, emerging dual-use technologies (artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data)

Research Topic: Building a Data Governance Model for Southeast Asia: The 3C Approach

Despite its potential to become a formidable player in the global digital economy, ASEAN lacks a coherent approach to data privacy and security which impedes its transformation to become a digital economy powerhouse. However, the recent signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Singapore and the Philippines provides improved prospects of formulating a data governance framework that promotes the open, free and cross-border flow of data in Southeast Asia. There is an opportunity to further develop the scope and breadth of this growing collaboration within the two countries in close cooperation with the United States and Japan. Under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. has supported ASEAN’s thriving digital economy through various initiatives that strengthen its data privacy and protection, while Japan during the G20 summit advocated the Osaka Track or the Data Free Flow with Trust Framework. This study will argue that there is a clear convergence among the four states to embrace the free and cross border flow of data. And to realize such convergence into a concrete outcome, this study advances a cooperative framework called the 3C approach: Cross-sectoral Consortium, Capacity Building, and Communication. The 3C approach seeks to maximize existing mechanisms and partnerships across the four states to demonstrate the viability of a pragmatic data governance model grounded on mutual trust. The imperative to demonstrate such a realistic model of data governance lies in two underlying considerations: first, to influence ASEAN’s informal political process relies on persuasion; and second, to mitigate the propensity of Southeast Asian states to embrace a restrictive type of approach towards the open flow of data beyond their borders.