Minister urges speedier move to digital society

Minister urges speedier move to digital society

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, January 18, 2020

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MINISTER of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET), Fayval Williams says that the time is right for Jamaica to move with more speed towards implementation of a digital society.

“We simply cannot afford to be left behind the rest of the world, or even our Caribbean counterparts, and I think we are behind. But, being Jamaican, I think we are going to sprint our way through and overtake everybody else,” the minister told guests at the launch of the new national Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) project at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Wednesday.

She said that, at the national level, the Government is advancing all the framework necessary to support the digital society, including the policies and strategies, institutional arrangements and legal and regulatory mechanisms required to make the transformation a reality.

“We now need to move with a sense of urgency to implementation, and I firmly believe that we are ready and up to the task,” she stated.

The PKI creates a framework for protecting communications and stored information from unauthorised access and disclosure by addressing the fundamentals of cybersecurity – confidentiality, integrity, authentication and non-repudiation. A PKI is key to the roll-out of e-transaction services which are expected to expand with the introduction of the National Identification System (NIDS).

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of Representatives recently of the Government's intention to table in Parliament a new NIDS bill to replace the original which was struck down last year by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Opposition raised no objections to the announcement, noting the Gvernment's willingness to allow for review of the Bill by a joint select committee of Parliament.

NIDS Programme Director Warren Vernon said that, over the next seven months, the identification project will collaborate with the Registrar General's Department, eGOV Jamaica, the PBS Consortium and the ministry to implement and commission the NPKI.

“Building a robust cybersecurity programme is a shared responsibility between the Government, citizens and businesses,” Vernon told the function.

He stated that the launch was another vivid demonstration that the Government is taking a lead role in enhancing the country's cyber-security profile.

“Collectively, we must see Jamaica as an enterprise to be protected in cyberspace. The conversations around cybersecurity has long shifted from enterprise firewalls to digital identities. We must therefore implement a trustworthy mechanism to authenticate and verify the identities of those engaging and transacting business in the digital space,” Vernon noted.

Maurice Barnes, chief executive officer of eGOV Jamaica, said that the agency has recommended the creation of new job positions to support the implementation and sustainability of the PKI infrastructure for the ICT authority.

“It should therefore ensure that when the transition is made, we have the technical expertise ready and waiting to implement, maintain and support all aspects of the PKI process,” he said.

He said that, in addition, the team has reviewed the current Electronic Transactions Act, and given its recommendations for amendments, one of which is for e-GOV to become a certificate authority with the permission and capacity to issue digital certificates.

“Currently, only one entity – the Trade Board – has that responsibility. This will allow us to use the Act as a binding agent, in developing our own standards and procedures for the implementation of the PKI,” Barnes noted.

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