Jamaican Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, has said that the Data Protection Act is expected to be laid before Parliament for debate within three months.
The Minister, who was making his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, said that work on the Bill is “far advanced.”
The Data Protection Act will safeguard, in general, the privacy of individuals in relation to personal data as well as govern the collection, regulation, processing, keeping, use and disclosure of certain information in physical or electronic form.
Dr. Wheatley further informed that the 2015 Cybercrimes Act will be reviewed this financial year, to address concerns about how sections of the law are interpreted and enforced, and a new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Bill will be tabled.
He said work on the ICT legislation continued in earnest last year, with assistance from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Consultations on the proposed provisions were held with stakeholders in the areas of telecommunications, broadcasting, and subscriber cable operators and a draft ICT Act produced.
Additionally, work will commence for the establishment of a single ICT regulator. Minister Wheatley noted that the sector is governed by several regulators and “this variegated approach to regulation is no longer fit to respond to the converged ICT space or provide the responsive regulation that is required.”
“Consequently, this year, we will begin the process of amalgamating the relevant functions of the regulators to ensure that when the new ICT Act is promulgated, the new regulator is in place to undertake the revised functions,” the Minister said.
Turning to other matters, the Minister informed the House that candidates have been shortlisted for the position of Chief Executive Officer for eGov Jamaica, while the ICT Governance Framework and ICT Council were approved last year.
He said that by the end of April, a Government of Jamaica (GoJ) ICT Think Tank will be launched.
Google just Became The First Foreign Internet Company To Launch in Cuba
Google's servers in Cuba went live on Wednesday, making the internet giant the first foreign internet company to host content within the long cut-off country.
The servers are part of Google's global network of caching servers, called GGC nodes, the servers work by storing popular content — like a viral YouTube video — on a local server. Instead of having to travel the long distance through a submarine cable, which currently connects Cuba to the internet through Venezuela, Cubans will now be able to access content through the nearest Google server in their country.
"I think this will be very noticeable for Cubans," said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn, a global internet monitoring company. "The internet in Cuba will still be a painfully slow process. This is just another somewhat rare step forward. For Google services, which will be hosted in country, it will be a milestone."
Despite hopes that Cuba would begin opening up its internet access following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba in 2015, Cuba still has the lowest level of internet connectivity in the western hemisphere. For most Cubans, the internet can only be accessed through 240 public access wi-fi spots dotted around the country. An hour of internet access costs roughly $1.50, which for Cubans earning the country's average wage of $25 a month, can be prohibitively expensive.
Cuba's State Telecommunications company, Etecsa, recently begun running a pilot program to install internet connections in 2,000 homes throughout the country, but once the pilot is over the service will cost around $15 for 30 hours of internet at a slow speed of 128 kilobytes per second — a similarly off-putting price for most Cubans.
Google acknowledges that the deal won't do much to increase internet access for the average person in Cuba. In a blog post published last December to mark the signing of the deal between Cuba and the tech giant, Google executives wrote, "Cubans who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service and reduced latency for cached content."
Madory, however, said that it appeared that Google was rolling out the change slowly. When he tested the service on Wednesday morning using a server in Cuba he could access remotely, he was still being directed to Google services outside the country. "I can see the server is there and I can interact with it, but Cubans are not yet getting automatically connected to it."
Girls In ICT Day Marked By Hackathons Across The Caribbean
On Thursday girls and young women from 15 Jamaican schools gathered to compete in a Caribbean Hackathon in observance of the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Day.
The girls and young women were engaged in hands-on activities, guided by a tech mentor, using ICT to create, innovate and generate solutions to various challenges. The activities included mobile app building, animation, robotics, digital video production and digital art works, and web development.
The day-long immersion in ICT, the ‘hackathon’ will give the girls and young women, an opportunity to envision themselves, not only as users of technology, but creators.
The ‘hackathon’, led by a group of women consultants through a joint partnership between Cotton Tree Consulting and Change Makers Development Ltd, will take place simultaneously, in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
“Scotiabank is pleased to be part of an initiative that will inspire and excite our girls through their engagement with technology. This unique opportunity is one we are sure will not only encourage interest but ultimately galvanise the talent of Jamaican women in the development of the ICT industry,” said Yanique Forbes Patrick, vice-president of marketing at Scotiabank, regional platinum sponsor of the hackathon.
The event was also supported regionally by Gold Sponsor LOOP in partnership with the University of the West Indies.