Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society comments on the Trinidad and Tobago Cybercrime Bill

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) has sent their comments on the Trinidad and Tobago Cybercrime Bill (PDF ; 242K) to the Joint Select Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament on Friday June 16 2017.

View/Read the TTCS comments on the Cybercrime Bill (PDF ; 242K)

Some of the general areas of concern regarding the Cybercrime Bill noted in our comments:

  1. Suppression of free speech and the work of journalists
    It is important to note that many of the clauses in this Bill can be applied to  journalists carrying out their duties, and/or the free speech of private citizens, as well as to persons who are attempting, in the public interest, to report misconduct (aka whistleblowers). In the interest of support of the Fourth Estate as well as the principles of Free Speech enshrined in our Constitution, this Bill requires urgent complementary whistleblower/journalist protection via legislation.
  2. Excessive Penalties
    A number of sections outline penalties of $100,000 to $3,000,000. These are non-trivial amounts that far exceed the penalties in other areas that many would view as more serious – for example drunk driving. We wonder if the concept of proportionality could be incorporated in this act. The quantum of penalties will have chilling effect on the legitimate use of computers and networks, for example, students learning about computer security and security professionals investigating vulnerabilities on behalf of their clients.
  3. Collateral Damage
    The general trend in technology has been to move towards using shared server resources in the cloud. This opens up the possibility that data and equipment in use by accused persons may be simultaneously used by other persons unrelated to the accused and may thus be unduly affected by the shutdown and/or seizure of such equipment and data. Care must be taken to protect those who are not party to the criminal activities of other persons.
  4. Potential for Censorship and Abuse
    In the interest of protecting the rights of citizens, we believe that all requests for access systems and data should be approved by the Judiciary via the application for, and receipt of, a warrant. This judicial warrant would ensure that any potential for abuse by the State, or its agents, would be mitigated.
  5. Self Incrimination
    Several sections of this Bill seem to run afoul of the Constitution’s directive that persons are protected from self incrimination, for example, the requirement that persons unlock their phones or decrypt their data in furtherance of an investigation. This is a dangerous issue and should be reconsidered.
  6. Training
    It is highly likely that the Courts and Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will be called on to deal many cases under this legislation. As such, it is critical that officers of both agencies receive training in some of technical issues surrounding cyber crime. In this regard the TTCS would welcome the opportunity to assist in providing this training and any specialized advice when required.

The comments were put together by the TTCS based on

Many thanks to the contributors who helped with reviewing and commenting on the bill. For those interested in discussing and sharing ideas about computing, related technologies and related social issues are discussed, do join our announcement mailing list.

TTCS draft comments on the Trinidad and Tobago Cybercrime Bill 2017

screenshot showing part of the TTCS draft comments on Cybercrime Bill

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) has posted a first draft of its comments based on the discussions from the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society lime on Wednesday June 7 2017, comments from subscribers on the TTCS announcement mailing list and a followup TTCS meeting on Tuesday June 13 2017.

With the deadline of Friday June 16 for submission of comments to the Joint Select Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament , you can view and comment on the Google document of the TTCS draft comments on the Cybercrime Bill 2017 – anyone can comment on the document directly – you do not need a Google account.

Comments are welcomed.

View/Comment TTCS draft comments on Cybercrime Bill 2017

 

 

TTCS comments on “Towards the Treatment of Over The Top (OTT) services” policy document submitted to Telecom Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

tatt-pdf-image-of-towards-the-treatment-of-ott-services

 

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS ; http://ttcs.tt/) has submitted its comments on the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) document “Towards the treatment of Over The Top Services”

The TTCS comments can be viewed at TTCS-comments-on-TATT-Towards-the-treatment-of-OTT-services-public-July20-2015 (PDF ; 369K)

A general comment:

“For the past two decades, TATT has presided over a telecommunications sector which has experienced significant and ongoing growth for all commercial actors. The TATT “light touch” approach is one of the main factors contributing to the success of the sector. The status quo, as facilitated by TATT, should be maintained as the market can and will continue to innovate in the provision of value added services as it has already done for the benefit of clients, consumers, service providers and the country as a whole.

The TTCS fears that any change in the status quo *at the present time* will lead to a stifling of innovation and lead to significantly reduced domestic competition overall.

The treatment of Over The Top (OTT) services is *fundamentally* a Network Neutrality (NN) issue. Once the Telecommunications Authority makes a final decision on where it stands
regarding NN/zero rating of services, its way forward on topics such as OTT becomes much less complex and simple to execute. Over the top services (OTT) can be broad enough to
apply to any service provided over the Internet as a whole, or any future network. If TATT is to consider competition described by providers as “unfair,” then Zero Rated services should also be considered by the Authority in greater detail.

Attempting to make a final decision on OTT without any final decision on NN issues may needlessly complicate the country’s future regulatory landscape, and create precedents
which may limit future regulatory agility and sector innovation and growth. One of the realities of a competitive marketplace is that service providers must innovate constantly or else perish.

The TTCS believes that any regulator should have no vested interest in stifling future sources of innovation in order to preserve revenue streams for service providers. More significantly, any request by service providers that TATT *must* intervene in the regulatory environment in order  to mitigate any loss or potential loss of revenue as a result of technological changes in the sector misunderstands the responsibility of a regulator for the entire sector, and not just one part of it. Increased and differentiated competition and innovation in the telecoms space is to be encouraged, not stifled.

Draft comments on Telecom Authority of #Trinidad & #Tobago document “Towards the Treatment of Over-The-Top (OTT) Services”

tatt-pdf-image-of-towards-the-treatment-of-ott-services
Several members of the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society have put together some draft comments on the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago document “Towards the Treatment of Over-The-Top (OTT) Services” (PDF ; 2MB) which we are posting for review.

The TTCS draft comments can be viewed at draft-TTCS-statement-on-VoIP (PDF ; 71K).

Comments and suggestions are appreciated as soon as possible via email to [email protected] as the final deadline for formal submission to TATT is July 20 2015.

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society Statement to Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago on the proposed acquisition of Columbus International by Cable & Wireless Communications

cable&columbus

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) Statement to the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
on the proposed
acquisition of Columbus International by
Cable and Wireless Communications.

This comment is submitted by the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS ; http://cs.tt ) in response to the request for comments on the proposed acquisition of Columbus International Inc.(CII) by Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC)  published by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) on January 5th, 2015. The TTCS has commented on various ICT issues over the past decade as it relates to the interests of end users.

The proposed acquisition can lead to high ownership concentrations in the provision of voice and broadband Internet services throughout the Caribbean as well as in subsea fiber connections. This acquisition may also reduce the probability of healthy competition in mobile telephony services in some jurisdictions. The concerns with the proposed merger between the parties (absent speculation on changes in corporate allegiance) revolves around five main pillars:

  • Potential decrease in market efficiency (competition vs effective duopoly/oligopoly – more benefits to firms rather than consumers);
  • Reduced consumer options for voice and broadband internet services (with an effective CWC/CII and Digicel duopoly);
  • Higher cost of voice and broadband Internet services (concentration of market power among fewer firms);
  • Reduced quality of service in voice and broadband Internet services (common with a concentration of market power among fewer firms);
  • A potential underserving of remote or otherwise ‘less-profitable’ areas by the new corporate entity, and
  • An increase in corporate compliance issues (arising out of the attitude of a merged CWC/CII towards consumers, employees and government regulators, based on experience and past local and regional attempts to “game” the regulators by CWC imposing additional charges and changing service terms).

Ultimately, the TTCS sees the proposed merger as having the potential to reverse two decades of progress in liberalizing the local telecommunication sector and that residential, business and government consumers may lose many of the benefits of competition.

Furthermore, the TTCS notes with concern that TATT has only allowed for a one week comment period on this complex issue. We believe that extending this comment period as well as increased advertising would increase the participation of the general public in this critical decision.

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society statement on the intent by Cable and Wireless Communications PLC to acquire Columbus International

Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society Statement on
the intent by Cable and Wireless Communications PLC to acquire Columbus International

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) notes with concern the November 6th 2014 announcement by Cable and Wireless Communications PLC (C&W) of C&W’s intent to acquire Columbus International.

We feel that this acquisition will lead to very high ownership concentrations in Caribbean-wide wireline services (voice and broadband internet) and subsea fiber links. In some markets this acquisition will also remove the prospect of healthy competition in mobile telephony services.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad & Tobago (TSTT) will experience the intolerable position of competing with a shareholder that is privy to all its plans (C&W owns 49% of TSTT, while the Trinidad and Tobago Government is a majority shareholder of National Enterprises Limited (NEL), the latter which owns 51% of TSTT) and may have veto power on its investment programs. If the merged entity were to gain controlling interest in TSTT, the resulting combination would absolutely dominate all broadband and wireline telephony services and would be in an excellent strategic position to extend this dominance to the wireless voice and broadband market.

Even if C&W were to sell its TSTT shares, it is unlikely that a small national player will be able to compete with much larger, geographically diversified and well capitalized competitors. It is important to note that TSTT would NOT be an attractive acquisition target for anyone but C&W, given its small size and weak competitive position and that it is the GoRTT that may be forced to acquire C&W’s TSTT shares. In a sense the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago may end up partially funding the merger of C&W Communications and Columbus International.

Ultimately, the TTCS sees the proposed merger as reversing two decades of solid progress in liberalizing the local telecommunication sector and feel that the residential and business consumers will lose many of the benefits of intense competition between C&W/TSTT, Columbus Flow and Digicel.

——-

TTCS, ISOC-TT and IEEE-TT Joint Statement on Digicel Trinidad and Tobago’s ban on VOIP Services

The following is a press release of the joint statement from
the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society,
the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter and
the IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section on
Digicel’s Trinidad and Tobago’s  ban on Voice over IP services.

PDF version of press release:

A longer version of the statement can be viewed at TTCS-ISOC-TT-IEEE-TT-response-to-Digicels-ban-on-VOIP-services or at https://docs.google.com/a/ttcsweb.org/document/d/13pfWE4S6Rr3IwSntEFRdawpxdbnHXrSgpzQ2wcfp3YU/edit


Joint Statement from the
Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society,
Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter &
IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section

on Digicel Trinidad and Tobago’s ban on VOIP Services

Summary of Issue

On the 5th July, 2014, Digicel (Trinidad and Tobago) announced  that it will be blocking access to Voice over IP (VoIP) applications it considers to be  ‘unlicensed’ or “unauthorized” on  its “4G” service. The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS),
the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (ISOC-TT) and the IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section (IEEE-TT) consider this to be a grave error, and wish to make a public statement on this matter,  both from a technical perspective and a social one.

 

Our position

It is the position of the TTCS, ISOC-TT and IEEE-TT that this move is a violation of the concept of “Network Neutrality” as defined by Wu. We are of the firm belief that this move puts us, as Internet users, on a slippery slope, as it may well pave the way for the banning of  other important Internet services for learning, innovation and productivity which use much more bandwidth.

Given that customers are paying for Internet data service, it is not accurate for Digicel to state that VoIP services amount to “illegal bypass activity”. Digicel is effectively asking that both consumers and suppliers pay for the same service.

While we understand the need to ensure the integrity of their service, from a technical perspective, there is no reason to single out VoIP connections as a large consumer of bandwidth that can reduce the Quality of Service enjoyed by other customers as the throughput for a VoIP connection is very small (on the order of 20kbps). Compared to services such as YouTube, Netflix or even browsing media-rich web pages (on the order of hundreds of kbps), throughput required by VoIP applications is negligible. Therefore, the argument that services such as VoIP has a significant impact on other data services is inaccurate (unless the number of  VoIP users is very very much greater than the number of non-VoIP users).

The reasoning given by Digicel TT for the move that “VOIP services (are) putting enormous pressures on bandwidth – and customers’ data usage experience (is) being negatively impacted” is also misleading since it is not technically possible for Digicel to give priority to VoIP traffic on their current data  network. In their current system,  VoIP traffic is treated just as any other data service.

We can only conclude, therefore, that the reason for the proposed ban is to stop the loss of  revenue from traditional circuit switched voice services rather than any move to protect the integrity of its data service to customers.

It is important that Internet service providers are committed to the concept of Network Neutrality in Trinidad and Tobago so as to encourage innovation and avoid the potential of censorship. Digicel should certainly backtrack on this move, in the interest of national development. The  Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) should engage all stakeholders in a broader discussion with respect to how we should move forward on the issue of Network Neutrality. TATT should also strive towards making a more competitive environment by accelerating the introduction of a 3rd service provider as well as accelerate the long promised implementation of Number Portability to promote the competitiveness in the telecommunications space that would prevent similar anti-consumer, anti-innovation and anti-economic growth policies.


 

Draft Policy Document and Proposed Amendments to the Telecommunications Act (2013)

On May 6, 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Trinidad and Tobago via the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) posted two documents for public comment. They are the:

The submission of comments was June 3 2013 but this deadline was extended to Tuesday 09 July 2013.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) submitted its comments on the draft policy for (and proposed amendments to) the Telecommunications Act, using the comment submission form posted on TATT’s website:

 

smartTT National ICT Plan (2012)

2012 Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education ad promoting the online consultation of the National ICT Plan from 26 April to 13 May 2012
2012 Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education ad promoting the online consultation of the National ICT Plan from 26 April to 13 May 2012

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education (MSTE) and iGovTT launched a series of consultations on the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Plan 2014-2018 on Wednesday 21 March 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel which culminated in a two-day Conference on July 11 2012 as the final point of consultation on the Draft National ICT Plan.

Read MSTE/iGovTT press ad on April 2, 2012 (PDF ; 1.3MB) which reported on the initial consultations and the schedule for consultations. Persons were also invited to comment on the draft ICT plan at http://www.ictconsultations.gov.tt/

The draft National ICT Plan dubbed “smartTT” focused on 5 thematic areas to guide the implementation of ICT development agenda for Trinidad and Tobago. The five themes were:

  • Innovation and Human Capital Development,
  • Access and Digital Inclusion,
  • e-­‐Business and ICT Sector Development
  • Infrastructure Development
  • e-­‐Government.

The plan was predicated on the National ICT vision which is to create

“A dynamic knowledge based society, driven by the innovative use of ICTs to enhance the social, economic and cultural development of the
people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) also submitted comments to the National ICT Consultation.

On July 11 2012 at the start of the two day conference,  attendees were shown the draft smartTT ICT Plan for 2012-2016

Read/View smartTT Draft ICT Plan 2012-2016 (PDF ; 18MB ; 58 pages)

Jacqueline Morris also managed to do a ustream live webcast during the first day of the July 11 2012 conference.

Interception of Communications Act 2010

The Interception of Communications Bill 2010 was laid in the House of Representatives by the Minister of National Security, Senator Brigadier John Sandy.

The Bill seeks to “provide for and about the interception of communications, the acquisition and disclosure of data relating to communications, the acquisition of the means by which electronic data protected by encryption or passwords may be decrypted or accessed and other related matters.”

From the text of The Interception of Communications Bill 2010 :

This Bill seeks to provide the legal framework within which public or private communications, which are being transmitted by means of a public or private telecommunications network, can be lawfully intercepted. An interception of communication is lawfully done only when it is done pursuant to a warrant issued by a Judge on an application by an authorized officer. Consequently, it is an offence for a person intentionally to intercept a communication being transmitted without an order of the Court. In general, a warrant would be issued only to investigate, prevent or detect a specified offence, and would be valid for an initial period of ninety days, but may be extended by the Court for two further periods, each for ninety days. The Bill also makes provision for an oral application for a warrant in urgent circumstances, subject to certain safeguards. Finally, the Bill provides that the content of a communication or communication data, which is lawfully obtained, is admissible as evidence in any criminal proceedings.

The introduction of the bill follows a statement by the Honourable Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on November 12 2010 in the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament House of Representatives of concerning the unregulated interception of communication of several individuals by an agency of the state,as well as the Special Anticrime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT).

The Bill went into Committee Stage in the House of Representatives. The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago was invited by the Parliamentary Committee for its comments and the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) forwarded some comments on the Bill to the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago on November 23 2010.

Amendments to the Bill were made in the House of Representatives and the Bill went to the Senate where it also went into Committee Stage and further amendments made.

The Bill was assented to in December 3 2010 and proclaimed by the President in mid December 2010.

On December 7 2010, a Bill titled “Interception of Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2010” in the Senate. This Bill seeks to amend Clause 26 in the Interception of Communications Act 2010 to add “, subject to negative resolution of Parliament,” after the word “Order”.

Clause 26 of the Interception of Communications Act would therefore now read

“The Minister may by Order, subject to negative resolution of Parliament, amend any of the Schedules to this Act.”

The Schedules to this Act documents the Application for a Warrant, the Statutory Declaration in support of an application for a warrant, and the form to notify the Minister of National Security.

The Interception of Communications (Amendment) Bill 2010 was passed in the Senate on the same day (December 7 2010) and was subsequently introducted and passed in the House of Representatives on December 10 2010. It was assented to on the December 20 2010.