Some of the general areas of concern regarding the Cybercrime Bill noted in our comments:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
final review of last comments and edits on Friday June 16 2017 before submitting.
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.
“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.
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.
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.