Sri Lanka ratifies UN Electronic Communications Convention, another first for South Asia

ICT Agency (ICTA)-led efforts to get Sri Lanka ratify the UN Electronic Communications Convention bore fruit, when Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Dr. Rohan Perera deposited the Instrument of Ratification in New York recently.

This is sequel to approval from the Cabinet of Ministers obtained in June. The Cabinet approval authorised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deposit the Instrument of Ratification at the UN Treaty Office so as to ensure Sri Lanka’s entry into this only UN Convention on the subject of international e-Conews22

mmerce and on the use of cross border e-Contracts.

With its ratification Sri Lanka becomes the first country in South Asia and second country after Singapore to become a State Party to the Convention. Countries like Australia, Thailand, Vietnam and China are already preparing domestic legislation to ratify this Convention.

However, Sri Lanka’s ratification of this Important UN Convention was possible because the country already has the required domestic legislation, namely, the Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006, which is based on this UN Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Sri Lanka on 1 February 2016.

ICTA’s Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando said: “The UN Electronic Communications Convention, also known as the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts, builds on the legal principles contained in other UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996), and makes it more relevant to the Internet era.”

“Sri Lanka’s ratification of this Convention will ensure greater legal certainty for e-commerce and e-business providers who wish to use Sri Lankan law as the applicable law and ensure international validity for such e-contracts. The Convention also ensures legal validity for other international legal instruments as well as cross border funds transfers, enhancing the ability of Sri Lanka to fast track its move towards paperless trade facilitation,” Fernando added.

A UN Information Service press release, issued in Vienna datelined 9 July, stated: “Sri Lanka announced its ratification of the Convention during the 48th annual session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held in Vienna, Austria.”

The UN press release further elaborated: “The UN Electronic Communications Convention aims to enhance legal certainty and commercial predictability where electronic communications are used in relation to international contracts. The Convention addresses, among other things, the determination of a party’s location in an electronic environment; the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; and the use of automated message systems for contract formation.”

“ It also provides the criteria to be used for establishing functional equivalence between electronic communications and paper documents – including ‘original’ paper documents – as well as between electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures. In doing so, the UN Electronic Communications Convention builds on the fundamental legal principles and provisions contained in other UNCITRAL texts on electronic commerce, namely, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce, already adopted in about 140 jurisdictions across more than 60 countries.”

Sourced by : http://www.ft.lk/

“SL Ratifies UN Electronic Communications Convention – Another First for South Asia”

The ICT Agency (ICTA) led efforts to get Sri Lanka ratify the UN Electronic Communications Convention bore fruit, when Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Dr Rohan Perera deposited the Instrument of Ratification in New York recently. This is sequel to approval from the Cabinet of Ministers obtained in June. The cabinet approval authorized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deposit the Instrument of Ratification at the UN Treaty Office so as to ensure Sri Lanka’s entry into this only UN Convention on the subject of international e-Commerce and on the use of cross border e-Contracts.

With its ratification Sri Lanka becomes the first Country in South Asia and 2nd Country after Singapore to become a State Party to the Convention. Countries like Australia, Thailand, Vietnam and China are already preparing domestic legislation to ratify this Convention. However, Sri Lanka’s ratification of this Important UN Convention was possible because the country already has the required domestic legislation, namely, the Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006, which is based on this UN Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Sri Lanka on 1 February 2016

ICTA’s Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando said: “The UN Electronic Communications Convention, also known as the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts, builds on the legal principles contained in other UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996), and makes it more relevant to the Internet era”. “Sri Lanka’s ratification of this Convention will ensure greater legal certainty for e-Commerce and e-Business providers who wish to use Sri Lankan law as the applicable law and ensure international validity for such e-Contracts. The Convention also ensures legal validity for other international legal instruments as well as cross border funds transfers, enhancing the ability of Sri Lanka to fast track its move towards paperless trade facilitation”, Fernando further said.

Electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures

A UN Information Service Press Release, issued in Vienna datelined 9th July 2015, stated that “Sri Lanka announced its ratification of the Convention during the 48th annual session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held in Vienna, Austria”. The UN Press Release further elaborated stating: “The UN Electronic Communications Convention aims to enhance legal certainty and commercial predictability where electronic communications are used in relation to international contracts. The Convention addresses, among other things, the determination of a party’s location in an electronic environment; the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; and the use of automated message systems for contract formation. It also provides the criteria to be used for establishing functional equivalence between electronic communications and paper documents – including “original” paper documents – as well as between electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures. In doing so, the UN Electronic Communications Convention builds on the fundamental legal principles and provisions contained in other UNCITRAL texts on electronic commerce, namely, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce , already adopted in about 140 jurisdictions across more than 60 countries”.

Sri Lanka in revival

At the 48th Annual Session of UNCITRAL held this week, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, A. L. Abdul Azeez made an elaborate country statement, said: “Sri Lanka with a recorded history of 2500 years is today a country in revival. Democratic values, echoing transparency, accountability together with principles of good governance are the key pillars on which our country is moving forward today, where the true potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is being maximized for the benefit of its people”.

Speaking further, Ambassador Aziz said: “it is important to record the significant advancements made by Sri Lanka in the field of ICTs. For several years Sri Lanka ranks No. 1 in South Asia in the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), published jointly by the World Economic Forum and INSEAD in France. Last year, Sri Lanka’s ranking in the UN e-Government Readiness Index jumped 41 places bringing it to the No. 1 position in South Asia. This was a land-mark achievement for our country”. “Substantial investments have already been made in the deployment of ICTs for technological and institutional transformation of key sectors of the economy under the internationally acclaimed “e-Sri Lanka Development initiative”, supported by the World Bank. Peace, growth and equity were our goals”. “A large number of government services are now available on line to citizens through our country portal (LankaGate), facilitated by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA). Visitors to Sri Lanka can obtain visa’s on the Internet – the facilitating legal framework, e-Government and e-Commerce is in place”, the Ambassador stated.

No legal impediments for online export

All legal impediments which had been in existence in carrying out commercial exports to the international community via ecommerce were removed with effect from 6th this month (July).

This has enabled Sri Lanka to obtain billions of US dollars as export revenue. ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) Programme Director and Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando said that this was because the UN ecommunication convention had provided to Sri Lanka the privilege of decisively carrying out international exports online without any legal impediment.

Fernando said that Sri Lanka was the first country in the history of South Asia that had received this privilege. Sri Lanka was able to be given this opportunity because the state of Sri Lanka’s electronic transaction law was at a high level as well as in accordance with the UN electronic communication convention.

Earlier on there was ambiguity as to the law under which online commercial exports should be carried out. As a result of this, for a long time there were many complex legal matters with regard to commercial exports from Sri Lanka. This complex state of affairs was a threat to online export. It also led to a standstill of millions of US dollars that should accrue to Sri Lanka as export revenue.

ICTA helps fast track Sri Lanka’s entry to Budapest Cybercrime Convention

The Foreign Affairs Ministry together with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), has fast-tracked Sri Lanka’s entry into the Council of Europe (CoE) Cybercrime Convention, aka the Budapest Convention.
This is a significant policy breakthrough for Sri Lanka.  This is so because Sri Lanka was invited to join the convention in February and the domestic process towards Sri Lanka’s accession was completed in less than three months.
As a result, Sri Lanka has overtaken the Philippines, Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and several others in the process towards joining the Budapest Cybercrime Convention. Sri Lanka also becomes the first country in South Asia to join the Cybercrime Convention, which is the only international treaty on the subject of cybercrime globally. ICTA Programme Director/Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando confirmed that the Foreign Affairs Ministry had finalised the Instrument of Accession to join the Budapest Convention and transmitted it to the CoE. “As per Article 36 of the Convention it will enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of a period of three months after the date of the expression of state’s consent to be bound by the provisions of the convention,” Fernando said.
Jayantha Fernando also said, “Usually, a country would take several years to accede to this convention. Countries like the Philippines, Argentina, Costa Rica, etc., were invited long before Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka was able to fast-track accession because we had the required domestic legislation in place.” The primary legislation is the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007.
The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime seeks to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation among nations. CoE Head of Cybercrime Division Alexander Seger said, “The Budapest Cybercrime Convention is an international convention open for any country to accede that is prepared to implement it. Not only European countries but also states such as the USA, Australia, Japan, Dominican Republic or Mauritius are already parties. Others such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and the Philippines have signed it or been invited to accede. Sri Lanka has now taken a policy decision to accede. We hope that other countries of South Asia will follow Sri Lanka’s example and fully engage in international cooperation against cybercrime.”
A significant amount of work was done before Sri Lanka was invited to join this important convention. ICTA took the lead policy initiative, with support from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Justice Ministry. As required under the rules of procedures of the convention it was necessary to obtain the unanimous agreement of all state parties to the convention before Sri Lanka could be invited. Following informal and formal consultations with state parties, full consensus was achieved to invite Sri Lanka.
The ICTA of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 (ICT Act) ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT. In terms of section 6 of the ICT Act, ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers. ICTA is wholly owned by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Sourced by :http://www.dailymirror.lk/

SL set to join Budapest Cybercrimes Convention by end-July 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry, on his recent visit here, commended Sri Lanka for its pioneering role as the first in South Asia to be invited to and begin the process of ascension to the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, according to Jayantha Fernando, Legal Advisor at the local ICT Agency (ICTA).

Elaborating even more, Mr. Fernando revealed that, as of May 21, Sri Lanka had finalised and submitted the necessary ascension documentation and, in two months, the country would become a party to the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, overtaking countries such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and the Philippines that had been invited but is yet to accede. The next important obligation for Sri Lanka is for the country to set up the convention-stipulated frameworks, such as a 24/7 contact point for local law enforcement, which the US Department of Justice and the FBI had already offered to help support, in terms of training, etc. Additionally, there will be the need to train investigators at both the central and the provincial level over the next five years, along with judges, prosecutors and even Law College students.
He also added that Sri Lanka’s invitation to join the Council of Europe-initiated Budapest Cyber Crime Convention was “greatly supported” by the Netherlands, Estonia, UK and many other European countries, as well as USA, Japan and Australia.

Commenting on the convention itself, Mr. Fernando signalled that it was both a substantiative and procedural document that not only outlined what constituted cybercrime law, but also highlighted procedures to be followed in terms of evidence gathering. It also provided details of court interventions and supervision, and how to uphold human rights laws. Importantly, it also put in place a mechanism to request access to US-based computer networks, which was responsible for the most internet activity worldwide.

At the same time, ICTA further indicated that “Sri Lanka, which modelled its Computer Crimes Act (2007) based on the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, (invitation to join) was as a result of a decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, after obtaining the consent of State Parties to the Convention… Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, is the only available international treaty on the subject of Cybercrime… The Budapest Cybercrime Convention is an international convention open for any country to accede that is prepared to implement it. In addition to European countries, the USA, Australia, Japan, Dominican Republic (and) Mauritius are already parties to the Convention”.

Sourced From : http://www.sundaytimes.lk

ICTA to introduce Mobile software called “Sri Lankan Museum”

Steps have been taken to introduce a mobile software application for the first time in Sri Lanka to enable viewing exhibits in a museum and to have a wide knowledge about them.

An ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) release stated that this mobile software called ‘Sri Lankan Museum’ will be introduced to view exhibits at the Magampura Ruhunu Heritage Museum.

The museum was opened by President Maithripala Sirisena recently. The ICTA release added that a museum viewer could upload this software in his smart phone and while viewing the exhibits listen to detailed information about the exhibits through the mobile phone.

The information could be listened in Sinhala, Tamil or English according to one’s choice.

The Magampura Ruhunu Heritage Museum is the 95th free WiFi zone under the programme of setting up 1,000 free WiFi zones throughout the country.

Sourced by : http://www.news.lk

Developing soft infrastructure Govt. priority: Eran W at EU Cybercrime Conference

Highways and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne says that the new Government’s emphasis is on soft infrastructure in preference to hard infrastructure. One of the advantages Sri Lanka has is its educated population, one of the best in the region. If soft infrastructure is developed the country could achieve great progress, given its rich human resources and its unique geographic positioning in the world. The Deputy Minister said so while delivering his keynote address as joint Chief Guest, along with Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith Perera, at the opening of the two-day European Union funded International Conference on ‘Assessing the Threat of Cybercrime,’ held in Colombo recently. Organised by the Council of Europe (CoE), the conference was funded by the European Union (EU) under the joint EU/CoE Project ‘Global Action on Cybercrime’ (GLACY). The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the Sri Lanka Computer Readiness Team (SLCERT) were the Sri Lankan hosts.Addressing nearly 100 Criminal Justice experts from 17 countries, who had gathered in Colombo to share their expertise with each other the Deputy Minister said: “Sri Lanka is an ancient society with an unbroken written history of 2,500 years or more. So whatever your preferences are with its history, architecture or its features or wildlife wherever it might be, this country, very small in extent as it is, is truly unique in the world. Therefore we invite you, please go and enjoy the natural beauty of this country. “This country has two advantages. As the Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion, I often think about it. These two advantages make this country unique. One of these advantages is the fact that our natural location is one of the busiest

East to West, Sri Lanka is really uniquely positioned. If you have to move goods particularly from the South Asia region to Europe, Sri Lanka gives you definite advantage of three to five days moving vertically to any European port. So Sri Lanka clearly has some natural advantages. “Our next huge advantage is our human resources. We are really a small Asian village. Asia has cities with 20 million people which is approximately our total population. India and China have these large cities. So we are really, in that sense, an ancient village. But as you already know, we have one of the most educated populations in the region. Our emphasis, particularly, of our new Government, is to build the soft infrastructure of our country and to prioritise soft infrastructure over the hard infrastructure.”       Meritocracy Referring to the much-discussed current topic of good governance, the Deputy Minister went on to elaborate: “The presidential election on 8 January was a turning point in the direction that this country will take over the next decade. Our Government led by President Sirisena was elected on the platform of good governance. What do we actually mean by good governance? It has so many different components and I would like to mention just a few of them. One is we need to tell the society that this is a meritocracy, if we are going actually to have good governance. That is a long way off. But certainly it is a firm goal of ours. The next thing is we need to have the leadership, the top leadership of the country, actually committed to clean up the country. We need a leadership that is zero tolerant for corruption. Thirdly, I would say, we need supremacy of the rule of law. We are certainly moving in that direction.”       Cybercrime Conference in the current perspective Placing the conference in its current perspective, the Deputy Minister said: “This Government presented 100-day program which is largely putting the legal and constitutional framework for good governance. After we have completed that, we will basically be going to the country in a general election asking the voters of this country to decide whether they want the Government to continue or they would like another leadership team. “So good governance is in the environment. Your conference on cybercrime fits in very well in the framework that we have defined. We want to create an environment of work standards for our people. Therefore Sri Lanka is really privileged to have been invited to join this Council of Europe Convention on fighting cybercrime. I know that with our accession to the convention, certain benefits will accrue to this country, including the benefit of creating a centre of excellence to train Criminal Justice and law enforcement officials in this region.”       Scope of cybercrime Explaining to the largest-ever international gathering of cybercrime enforcement officials about the scope of cybercrime, the Deputy Minister said: “The Japanese Ambassador mentioned that one of the things in fighting cybercrime is also to fight against terrorism. We have had a long history in it. Our history is now well known and well documented. I would say that our new frontier is also to fight financial crime. It is significant that the Financial Crime Investigation Division Head is also participating. A priority of our Government is also to fight financial crime, where computers and Computer networks are widely used.” Underlining the need to eradicate the trend to politicise Government institution, the Minister observed: “Often people come up to me after the January election and they say, ‘why aren’t you arresting these people and putting them behind bars?’ I always wondered why people actually were asking a politician that question. This is not the role of the politician but the role of law enforcement and then subsequently the role of the judiciary. The reason why they walk up to us and ask us that question is the long history of politicisation of institutions of Government in this country. That is precisely what we have got to depoliticise so that law enforcement authorities are free to act and also that the judiciary may be free to act in a way they see fit.”       Role of ICTA Paying a tribute to an institution with which the Minister had been associated in the past, Minister Wickramaratne paid tribute to ICTA’s leadership in helping to formulate the required legal framework for ICT development. “I wish to particularly mention here the role of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) in formulating policies and the required legal framework. I have had association with ICTA from its inception and would like to particularly mention Jayantha Fernando who used to be a colleague of mine when I was the Chairman of ICTA.”       Computer crimes legal and policy framework Addressing the conference, Secretary Justice Kamalini De Silva said: “I understand that during this Conference the delegates would make proposals on how to strengthen cybercrime policies and strategies in your respective countries, based on the best practices shared by experts gathered here. Sri Lanka has made some progress in this area and delegates would get an opportunity to hear our perspectives.” Speaking further, the Secretary Justice said: “The Computer Crimes Act No.24 of 2007 is modelled on this important convention. Therefore Sri Lanka’s accession to this convention can be achieved relatively quickly because we have the required domestic legislation in place. In addition to recommending legislation on all aspects of Information Technology, the Ministry of Justice recognises the work of ICTA in safeguarding and protecting our critical information infrastructure, with the establishment of Sri Lanka CERT. ICTA has also taken the lead initiative to train judges and law enforcement officials in cybercrime enforcement. The Digital Forensic Lab at the CID and its working procedures were also established by the ICTA.”       Delivering the welcome address, ICTA Chairperson Chitranganie Mubarak explained the role of ICTA and its contribution to e-development in Sri Lanka. “ICTA is the apex ICT institution of the Govt. and was established in 2003 under the stewardship of our Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was the Prime Minister at the time. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT.” “A key mandate of the ICTA was the implementation of the e-Sri Lanka development program which leveraged on ICT for the social and economic development of the country. It sought to re-engineer Government processes making it more accessible to people, empower rural communities, develop the IT/ BPO industry and create an enabling environment through ICT policy and legal reforms,” explained Mubarak. Delivering the concluding remarks, ICTA Program Director/Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando, said “we have reached a significant milestone today”. “The primary motivation factor to host this event was the decision by the Council of Europe to invite Sri Lanka to accede to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. Joining this important convention was a long felt dream for many of us, both at the Council of Europe side and on the Sri Lankan side. The process that led to Council of Europe inviting Sri Lanka to join this convention was no easy task. It had many challenges on all fronts. But the will commitment and dedication of many people across the globe eventually made it possible. Therefore, it is our duty to remember those who contributed to that process. “The team at the Cyber Crime Division of the Council of Europe is very small. But its effectiveness to cut across geographical boundaries to reach out to far and distant countries is perhaps the singular reason why the Budapest Cybercrime Convention has become such an effective tool in the global fight against cybercrime.”

Sourced by : http://www.ft.lk/

Developing Soft infrastructure, a priority of Govt, says Eran Wickramaratne at EU Cybercrime Conference

Highways and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne says that the new Governement’s emphasis is on soft infrastructure in preference to hard infrastructure. One of the advantages Sri Lanka has is its educated population, one of the best in the region. If soft infrastructure is developed, the country could achieve great progress, given its rich human resources and its unique geographic positioning in the world.

The Deputy Minister said so while delivering his keynote address as joint Chief Guest, along with Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith P. Perera, at the opening of the two-day European Union funded International Conference on “Assessing the Threat of Cybercrime” , held in Colombo recently.

Organised by the Council of Europe (CoE), the conference was funded by the European Union (EU) under the joint EU/ CoE Project “Global Action on Cybercrime (GLACY)”.The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka(ICTA) and the Sri Lanka Computer Readiness Team (SLCERT) were the Sri Lankan hosts.

Addressing nearly 100 Criminal Justice experts from 17 countries, who had gathered in Colombo to share their expertise with each other the Deputy Minister said:

“Sri Lanka is an ancient society with an unbroken written history of 2500 years or more. So whatever your preferences are with its history,architecture or its features or wildlife wherever it might be, this country,very small in extent as it is, is truly unique in the world.Therefore we invite you, please go and enjoy the natural beauty of this country”.

“This country has two advantages.As the Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion, I often think about it. These two advantages make this country unique. One of these advantages is the fact that our natural location is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. As you move from East to West,Sri Lanka is really uniquely positioned.If you have to move goods particularly from the South Asia region to Europe, Sri Lanka gives you definite advantage of three to five days moving vertically to any European port. So Sri Lanka clearly has some natural advantages.

“Our next huge advantage is our human resources.We are really a small Asian village.Asia has cities with 20 million people which is approximately our total population.India and China have these large cities.So we are really, in that sense, an ancient village.But as you already know, we have one of the most educated populations in the region. Our emphasis, particularly, of our new Government, is to build the soft infrastructure of our country and to prioritise soft infrastructure over the hard infrastructure”, the Deputy Minister said.

Meritocracy

Referring to the much-talked about current topic of good governance,the Deputy Minister went on to elaborate:

“January 8th was the Presidential election and it was a turning point in the direction that this country will take over the next decade. Our Government led by President Sirisena was elected on the platform of good governance”. “What do we actually mean by good governance? It has so many different components and I would like to mention just a few of them. One is we need to tell the society that this is a meritocracy, if we are going actually to have good governance. That is a long way off.But certainly it is a firm goal of ours. The next thing is we need to have the leadership, the top leadership of the country, actually committed to clean up the country. We need a leadership that is zero tolerant for corruption”.

Thirdly, I would say, we need supremacy of the rule of law.We are certainly moving in that direction”.

The Cybercrime Conference in the current perspective

Placing the conference in its current perspective, the Deputy Minister said:

“This Government presented the 100-day programme which is largely putting the legal and constitutional framework for good governance. After we have completed that, we will basically be going to the country in a general election asking the voters of this country to decide whether they want the Government to continue or they would like another leadership team”.

“So,good governance is in the environment.Your conference on cybercrime fits in very well in the framework that we have defined. We want to create an environment of work standards for our people.Therefore Sri Lanka is really privileged to have been invited to join this Council of Europe Convention on fighting cybercrime.I know that with our accessionto the Convention, certain benefits will accrue to this Country,including the benefit of creating a centre of excellence to train Criminal Justice and law enforcement officials in this region”.

Scope of Cybercrime

Explaining to the largest ever international gathering of Cyber Crime enforcement officials about the scope of Cybercrime the Deputy Minister said:

“His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador mentioned that one of the things in fighting cybercrime is also to fight against terrorism. We have had a long history in it. Our history is now well known and well documented. I would say that our new frontier is also to fight financial crime. It is significant that the Financial Crime Investigation Division Head is also participating. A priority of our government is also to fight financial crime, where computers and Computer networks are widely used”.

Underlining the need to eradicate the trend to politicize Government institutions, the Minister observed:

“Often people come up to me after the January election and they say “why aren’t you arresting these people and putting them behind bars?…. I always wondered why people actually were asking a politician that question. This is not the role of the politician but the role of law enforcement and then subsequently the role of the judiciary. The reason why they walk up to us and ask us that question is the long history of politicization of institutions of government in this country. That is precisely what we have got to de-poliitcise so that law enforcement authorities are free to act and also so that the judiciary may be free to act in a way they see fit”.

Role of ICTA

Paying a tribute to an institution with which the Deputy Minister had been associated in the past, Deputy Minister Wickramaratne paid a tribute to ICTA’s leadership in helping to formulate the required legal framework for ICT development. “I wish to particularly mention here the role of ICTA in formulating policies and the required legal framework. I have had association with ICTA from its inception and would like to particularly mention Jayantha Fernando who used to be a colleague of mine when I was the Chairman of ICTA.

Computer Crimes Legal and Policy framework

Addressing the Conference the Secretary Justice, Ms Kamalini De Silva said

I understand that during this Conference the delegates would make proposals on how to strengthen Cyber Crime policies and strategies in your respective countries, based on the best practices shared by experts gathered here. Sri Lanka has made some progress in this area and delegates would get an opportunity to hear our perspectives”.

Speaking further, the Secretary Justice said: “the Computer Crimes Act No.24 of 2007 is modelled on this important Convention. Therefore Sri Lanka’s accession to this Convention can be achieved relatively quickly because we have the required domestic legislation in place. In addition to recommending legislation on all aspects of Information Technology, the Ministry of Justice recognizes the work of ICTA in safeguarding and protecting our critical information infrastructure, with the establishment of Sri Lanka CERT. ICTA has also taken the lead initiative to train judges and law enforcement officials in Cyber Crime enforcement. The Digital Forensic Lab at the CID and its working procedures were also established by ICTA”.

Delivering the Welcome Address ICTA Chairperson Chitranganie Mubarak explained the role of ICTA and its contribution to e-development in Sri Lanka. “ICTA is the apex ICT institution of the Govt. and was established in 2003 under the stewardship of our Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe, who was the Prime Minister at the time. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT.

“A key mandate of the ICTA was the implementation of the e-Sri Lanka Development Programme which leveraged on ICT for the social and economic development of the country. It sought to re-engineer government processes making it more accessible to people, empower rural communities, develop the IT/ BPO industry and create an enabling environment through ICT Policy and legal reforms” explained Ms. Mubarak.

Delivering the concluding remarks ICTA Programme Director / Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando, said: “We have reached a significant milestone today.”

“The primary motivation factor to host this event was the decision by the Council of Europe to invite Sri Lanka to accede to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. Joining this important Convention was a long felt dream for many of us, both at the Council of Europe side and on the Sri Lankan side. The process that led to Council of Europe inviting Sri Lanka to join this Convention was no easy task. It had many challenges on all fronts. But the will commitment and dedication of many people across the globe eventually made it possible. Therefore, it is our duty to remember those who contributed to that process”.

The team at the Cyber Crime Division of the Council of Europe is very small. But its effectiveness to cut across geographical boundaries to reach out to far and distant countries is perhaps the singular reason why the Budapest Cybercrime Convention has become such an effective tool in the global fight against Cybercrime”.

Sourced By: http://www.ft.lk/2015/04/07/developing-soft-infrastructure-govt-priority-eran-w-at-eu-cybercrime-conference/

Forum shares intl. expertise on assessing threat of cybercrime.

By Kiyoshi Berman The Project Global Action on Cybercrime (GLACY)International Conference on the theme ‘Assessing the threat of cybercrime’ concluded successfully last week at the BMICH. This conference was organised by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Information and Communication Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT). –
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Comprehensive public policies are needed to help protect societies against the evergrowingthreat of cybercrime. Public reporting on cybercrime and the collection of criminaljustice statistics are essential for well-informed and effective policy responses in this respect.The conference was, therefore, aimed at identifying solutions and specific steps to be taken inparticipating countries towards stronger criminal justice strategies and improved mechanisms forpublic reporting and statistics on cybercrime and electronic evidence. The conference brought together some 90 seniorrepresentatives and public and private sector experts from Australia, Bangladesh, France,Germany, India, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Singapore,South Africa, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.     ICTAChairperson Chitranganie Mubarak welcomed the guests to this historic event in Sri Lanka while conveying her sincere appreciation for giving ICTA the opportunity to co-host this event along with SLCERT. “ICTA is the apex ICT institution for the Government. It was established in 2003 under the stewardship of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is the Prime Minister again today as well. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003, the ICTA has been mandated to give policy directions in the country as well as to implement action plans. One of the key action plans that have been implemented by the ICTA is the e-Sri Lanka development program,” she said as she gave an introduction to ICTA. “The ICTA legal division has been working very closely with the Cybercrime Unit of the Council of Europe over the years. We’re delighted by the
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recent announcement that Sri Lanka has been invited to join the Budapest Convention. I’m told that it is this fact that led to this international conference hosted in Sri Lankaand Sri Lanka’s inclusion as a priority country of the Project Global Action on Cybercrime (GLACY),” she added.     Fighting cybercrime effectively Kamalini De Silva, Secretary Justice of Sri Lanka, delivered a speech sharing her views on this event.“The effective fight against cybercrime requires us to obtain the bill of electronic evidence stored on computer systems and networks in other countries. The Budapest Convention greatly enhances our ability to gather electronic evidence in order to investigate cyber laundering and other serious crimes. Further, the Budapest Convention will also help us in law enforcement and judicial corporation at an international level while ensuring adherence to human rights safeguard in the investigation process. The Computer Crimes Act of 2007 includes most of the safeguards under the Budapest Convention. Therefore, I hope that ICTA with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take appropriate steps to join the Budapest Cybercrimes Convention as soon as possible,” she said. The Ministry of Justice is fully committed towards this cause because this is very important in an administration of justice perspective. In addition to recommending legislation in the field of Information Technology, the Ministry of Justice recognises the work of the ICTA in safeguarding and protecting our critical information infrastructure with the establishment of the Sri Lanka CERT, she added.     Sri Lanka’s progress Alexander Seger, Head of Cybercrime Division, Council of Europe shared his views on this event and Sri Lanka’s progress in fighting cybercrime. “This event is yet another station of an ongoing corporation between Sri Lanka and Cybercrime Division that started seven years ago. In this connection I would like to thank ICTA and particularly Jayantha Fernando for not only protecting the society and individuals in Sri Lanka from the threat of cybercrime and letting them enjoy the benefits of technologies but also for ensuring that Sri Lanka is becoming a reliable partner of the international community in IT matters. The meeting is extraordinary because it comes at the moment when Sri Lanka has just been invited to join the Budapest Convention of Cybercrime,” he highlighted. He further said: “The expected outcome of the conference is two folds. One to develop with you, specifically towards cybercrime policies and strategies and of course such policies need to be based on knowledge. The second expected outcome is that we develop specific proposals to improve criminal justice statistics as well as public reporting mechanisms.”     Ubiquityof technology and potential threats David Daly, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka discussed the ubiquity of technology and its potential threats. “Technological breakthroughs bring great potential for both good and bad. The benefits of the Information Technology Revolution are obvious to us all- reinforcing economic development, facilitating social connections, making financial payments from our living rooms, the list is endless. Having a strong ICT sector is especially important for our economies; greater connectivity strengthens our economic and social development in a self-reinforcing way. Part of the down side, however, is the acceleration of cybercrime, unlawful activity involving some IT element in its application or execution. The scope is enormous, there are over 10billion Internet-facing devices in operation today. Cybercrime ignores borders; criminals take advantage of the territoriality of legislation to make their crimes harder to investigate and prosecute.” He underscored that cybercrime threatens individuals through identity theft, assets through monetary or data theft, infrastructure through attacking critical software and national security through espionage or terrorism. However, no country is immune from these threats. “The EU understands the need for capacity building among Parties to the Budapest Convention. Legal frameworks must be updated; law enforcement actors must be trained in appropriate technologies. This is a large part of what we support through this GLACY project.Learning from each other is of great importance; governments, international organisations and the private sector have much to contribute. This is an important part of this conference,” he asserted.
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Cybercrimes and cyberattacks Nobuhito Hobo, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka shared his experience and views on cybercrime. “Cyber space continues to expand across borders and with such development, cyber threats are also globalising. Cybercrimes and cyber attacks are becoming an eminent challenge. According to the 2015 edition of global Risks published by the World Economic Forum, data fraud or theft and cyber attacks rank in the top 10 risks in terms of technological risks,” he said. He mentioned that, Japan as an Asian country in the Budapest Convention encourages other Asian countries to join the Convention. Japan welcomes Sri Lanka to join the convention as a fast country in the Asian region, he added.     How Sri Lanka can benefit Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith P. Pereraexpressed a few thoughts of how Sri Lanka can benefit from this conference. “We have some natural advantages and the next huge advantage is our human resources. We’re really a small Asian village, there are cities in Asia with 20 million people and that comes to our entire population. But we have one of the most educated populations in the region. The emphasis of our new government is to build the soft infrastructure of our country and to prioritise the soft infrastructure over the hard infrastructure… Good governance is about creating the environment and your conference on cybercrime fits in very well to this” he said.   Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe
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Sourced from : http://www.ft.lk

ICTA to over-deliver President’s pledge of free Wi-Fi

Provision of free Wi-Fi facilities, fairly distributed over the island, both in urban and rural areas, will ceremonially begin at the Colombo Fort railway station on Monday 30, March 2015 with the participation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of External Affairs, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister of Internal Transport and Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of External Affairs.

The facility will be simultaneously made available at around 20 more locations including railway stations, public libraries, hospitals and other public places in Jaffna, Kandy, Matara, Galle, Polonnaruwa and Ratnapura. These are the premier locations to be powered with free Wi-Fi in the first round of a map of 1,000 locations.

The objective of this program is to provide free Internet access for Sri Lankan citizens empowering them with the global knowledge in the digital age. It will also engage citizens in policy making of the government and contributing towards good governance. Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) spearheads this project, with the able assistance of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) and the local telecom service providers.

The election manifesto of the President Maithripala Sirisena, ‘Compassionate Government – A Stable Country’, under section 11 ‘A meaningful substantial media freedom’, states: “To enrich the citizens of the country with important information, knowledge necessary for life and advanced cultural enjoyment, mass media has been active in submerging him/her in simple commercial pleasures. Matters worth attention and that should reach the attention of society are hidden and trivial matters without substance are highlighted in the media. Therefore, it is proposed to establish Wi-Fi zones at public places in all towns to supply free Internet facilities.”

ICTA earlier stated this was more than a mere fulfillment of an election pledge. Free Wi-Fi is offered because government understands free and unrestricted Internet access is more a fundamental right. The citizens from all walks of life and from different parts of the country will now benefit from the Free-Wi-Fi program.

Sri Lanka will be one the first countries in South Asia to take such initiatives and be able to deploy it in such a short time.

ICTA further says that ‘Free Wi-Fi’ should not be taken as a ‘Free lunch’. It is not a subsidy. The cost of providing the facility will not be passed on to the treasury or telecom companies. Instead free Wi-Fi is offered as a part of a feasible business model. Investments made by operators will be justified by the earnings of the developments. The telecom operators have already agreed to provide free 100 MB volume of internet data monthly per citizen at 512 Kbps bandwidth. They will invest on all required infrastructure to establish 1,000 hotspots and manage same. While most locations are already confirmed, the rest will be selected from a list of 1,300 locations ICTA has prepared.

Chithrangani Mubarak, Chairperson of ICTA states: “It is wonderful to note that social unity among the public and private sector has enabled ICTA to fulfill one its key objective of ICT penetration in the country. I am amazed as to how such a large-scale implementation can be achieved in such a short time. This clearly shows that the true benefit of this partnership to deliver such services was unimaginable before. I take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders on this project”
Muhunthan Canagey CEO of ICTA says: “It was an ambitious dream for ICTA to spearhead such a telecom roll out within a period of 60 to 90 days. The telecom operators, along with the team at ICTA and TRC were able to drive such an ambitious and dynamic initiative”

There were many technical and interoperability that needed to be finalized between all telecom operators, however the spirit of all parties were positive which enabled ICTA to deliver more than the promise made by the government at the last election.

Muhunthan Canagey further adds that there were many factors other than technical and policy that needed to be considered, such as selection of locations where most public will find it convenient to use. The consensus were reached by the teams that the locations shall include all state universities, limited professional education institutions, all railway stations, central bus stands, district secretariat, A grade base hospitals, public parks, public libraries, museums and limited Government offices and district secretariats will provide free Wi-Fi facilities. The distribution of ‘free Wi-Fi’ locations shall be proportionately distributed across all districts.

Concerns have already been raised about the free limit of 100 MB. While it might be not much for a PC user, more than half of the mobile users in Sri Lanka typically use less than this amount per month. Another technical difficulty in offering more is the difficulty in determining the usage patterns and how that will change the operator networks. So 100 MB will only be the starting point. ICTA plans to review this limit after analyzing the usage for few months. ICTA also thinks the limit should not be uniform and can change depending upon the requirements. For example, a rural location that needs more assistance can be given a higher limit than what is offered at an urban location.

ICTA also says the project goes far beyond offering free Wi-Fi. Even if the ‘free’ part is completely forgotten it is having 1,000 more Wi-Fi hot spots at otherwise commercially non-viable locations. Wi-Fi offers broadband access at half of the cost otherwise. Even without the free offering Wi-Fi can reduce the cost of 1 GB to less than Rs. 100. So, even an advanced user can maintain the broadband bill within a lower value by shifting to Wi-Fi. This trend is already seen in the developed countries.

The first free Wi-Fi 25 locations include the railway stations of Colombo Fort, Jaffna, Matara, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Peradeniya, Galle; bus stands at Pettah and Matara; public libraries of Colombo and Jaffna; hospitals of Polonnaruwa and Karapitiya and museums of Colombo and Ratnapura. In addition the facility will be simultaneously opened at several locations including Katunayake Airport, Police Headquarters in Colombo, Dutch Hospital and Galle face areas in Colombo, Foreign Employment Bureau at Battaramulla and Dehiwala zoological gardens. These locations are just symbolical and indicate at what categories of locations the facility will be available in future.

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the Government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 (ICT Act) ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT. In terms of section 6 of the ICT Act, ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers in the formulation of the National Policy on ICT and provide all information necessary for its formulation. ICTA is wholly owned by the Government of Sri Lanka.