Trinidad’s “archaic laws”, Revenge Porn & Data Privacy in the Cloud

 

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Lack of legislation cited as impediment to Caribbean cyber security. Image Credit, Shiva Bissessar (based on data from OAS June 2014 report)

On Oct 26th 2015, Justice Frank Seepersad in the Trinidad & Tobago High Court made a ruling, as reported by the Daily Express, in a “revenge porn” matter noting that technology advancement on this issue and others, including defamatory posting of comments on social media, has outstripped the pace of legislative reform to keep abreast of same;

“It is unfortunate that as a society we have not been proactive and that we are burdened with so many archaic laws that predate our independence”

In the absence of laws which directly speak to issue of revenge porn, the ruling was based on a breach of implicit confidentiality. The ruling comes on the heels of another privacy / confidentiality local story involving allegations of intimate photos being removed from a customer’s device by a repair shop and being circulated on social media.

Justice Seepersad’s quoted statement from the ruling echoes the sentiment expressed by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft in a blog post on the recent October 6th 2015 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union to invalidate the EU-US Safe Harbor Agreement which was previously used by corporations to facilitate movement of data across the Atlantic;

“Legal rules that were written at the dawn of the personal computer are no longer adequate for an era with ubiquitous mobile devices connected to the cloud.”

Today, technology can be abused to facilitate widespread dissemination of private intimate photos in acts of revenge porn.  It can also be abused to gain access into persons’ personal data, including Personal Identifiable Information (PII), within cloud facilities across the globe. The above quotes seem to reflect a growing realization that more effort needs to go into keeping laws abreast of technological innovation.  Also, the underlying court rulings both seek to protect individuals right to privacy, in the face of growing technological means to facilitate retribution and possible surveillance, respectively.

But where is the Trinidad & Tobago, and wider Caribbean, with respect to updating laws to keep abreast with technological innovation and addressing the threats which they pose via abuses or even condoned usage?  How technology specific or technology agnostic should laws be? Does the proposed Trinidad & Tobago Cyber Crime Bill (2014 & 2015) have adequate provisions for issues like revenge porn and cloud privacy? What else may be missing? What’s taking place globally with respect to legislation around these issues?  What is the Commonwealth doing? How are we stacking up?

See below for some previous material I have produced, from an Information Security perspective, on the topic of developing the cyber security landscape to address cyber crime locally and in the Caribbean which bears some relevance to these questions:

  1. Achieving Caribbean Cyber Security – 10th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum
  2. Trinidad & Tobago Cybercrime Bill 2014: Due Diligence
  3. T&T Cybercrime bill demands multi-stakeholder input – TechnewsTT, July 2014
  4. Are Caribbean Cybercrime Bills based on flawed model law – Trinidad Guardian, June 2015
  5. The TT Cybercrime Bill debate continues:  Critics, Opinions and Facts – Pinaka Technology Solutions Blog, June 2015
  6. At The Intersection Of Ethics, Law & Technology In Trinidad & Tobago – Pinaka Technology Solutions Blog, July 2015

Additionally, coming soon is a NEW article in one of our local daily newspapers tentatively entitled “Lessons for the Caribbean from the OAS-FIRST Cyber Security Colloquium”.  Stay tuned!

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