| Azaraimy HH |
BROADBAND has become of prime importance to companies, schools and the people alike in this modern era. The Ministry of Communications views it as an ‘enabler’ for the future in line with Brunei’s Vision 2035 to create a Smart Society.
During the launch of the National Broadband Policy and Cybersecurity Awareness Week yesterday at Rizqun International Hotel, Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar highlighted that the greater use of broadband will help to develop a Smart Society as people are able to interact effectively in a broadband-enabled environment.
He also made a correlation between the national policy and international best practices. According to the World Bank, an increase in 10 per cent of broadband penetration will boost the GDP growth by 1.3 per cent. The contribution of the communications sector stands at three per cent for non-oil and gas sector and about 1.1 per cent of total GDP in 2013 (source JPKE).
The policy document, the minister explained, sets the government’s plans and goals for broadband over the next four years (2014-2017) by focusing on three key themes; Ensuring access to broadband connectivity for all; Improving the value, quality and affordability of broadband; and maximising the adoption and utilisation of broadband. The National Broadband Policy contains; The policy objectives on the three key themes supported by the implementation plan with identified targets and indications to measure progress.
“We hope to further the current formulation process while ensuring that the National Broadband Policy is a comprehensive one that addresses both interests and challenges faced by our stakeholders, including the users. The policy will be available for download from either the Ministry of Communications and the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) websites (www.mincom.gov.bn and www.aiti.gov.bn).”
According to the Minister of Communications, views and comments on the policy are very much welcomed until end of January 2015. AITI will serve as the Secretariat for the feedback which can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will then be compiled and analysed.
Speaking on this feedback, the minister said this approach has been utilised by the Ministry of Communications and AITI for policies and regulations in the ICT sector. He further emphasised that a secure environment is vital for progress.
In 2013, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated an annual loss of over US$110 billion caused by cybercrime; almost half of teenagers aged 13 to 17 have experienced some sort of cyber bullying in 2012. The outlook seemed grimmer with statistics reported by Symantec Corporation, in the Internet Security Threat Report 2014.
However, 2011 was described as the ‘Year of Data Breach’ while 2013 was best described as ‘The Year of Mega Breach’ with the total number of breaches reaching 62 per cent greater than in 2012. Nearly 500 million identities were exposed in 2013, 38 per cent of global mobile users had already experienced mobile cybercrime and 12 per cent of social media users had their accounts hacked. Attackers are now moving to the Internet and hacking baby monitors, security cameras and routers. A collective approach is being taken by various agencies to protect users against online threats, the minister assured.
He also mentioned the ‘Child Online Protection Framework (COP)’ which has been developed with ITU and IMPACT (International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats).
The COP Framework was handed over by the Ministry of Communications to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports in March. Also in place is the Content Advisory Council with members from various government agencies addressing online contents that are against our cultural, social and religious norms while the Brunei National Cybersecurity Framework is currently developed by the e-Government National Centre under the Prime Minister’s Office.
The minister believes that cybersecurity must be addressed beyond the current approach. As businesses are increasingly going online, cyber security threats and risks will also grow simultaneously. A positive outcome from the collaboration between the Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Finance, Prime Minister’s Office (e-Government National Centre) and AITI was also observed. In October 2014, the Controller under the Electronic Transactions Act 2008 was transferred from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Communications.
The minister said the Electronic Transaction Act 2008 will be reviewed and updated. It aims to facilitate electronic commerce; eliminate barriers to electronic commerce resulting from uncertainties over writing and signature requirements, and promote the development of the legal and business infrastructure necessary to implement secure electronic commerce.
Broadband development and cybersecurity requires multi-stakeholder approaches. The potential of broadband technology as an enabler for innovation, creative contents, and convenient transactions should be enhanced with cybersecurity measures, while coordination and collaboration between various agencies are the best mechanism towards a progressive, safe and secure future.