Summary of ECLAC Caribbean DFS outputs (2014-2017) 

Report on ITU/ECLAC/TATT 2016 workshop; Exploring Innovation in Transactions & Financing in Caribbean

 

 

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, is pleased to transmit for your attention, (LC/CAR/2017/11) entitled “REPORT OF THE SEMINAR ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT- EXPLORING INNOVATION IN TRANSACTIONS AND FINANCING IN THE CARIBBEAN” from the meeting convened in Port of Spain, 1-3 June 2016.

 

Below is a listing of the various DFS outputs produced by ECLAC from 2014 – 2017

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ECLAC Publications and Resources in “Digital Financial Services”

2014

2015

 

Digital currency and mobile money solutions are components of new industry classifications referred to as Financial Technology (FinTech) and Digital Financial Services (DFS).

2016

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram media by beascycle - UN Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean #digitalcurrency study finally publishedThis report examines the usage of digital currency technology in the Caribbean subregion with a view to drawing attention to the opportunities and risks associated with this new phenomenon. It discusses the broader context of an emerging activity at the global level and considers how this technology could address subregional deficiencies in the electronic payment infrastructure.The report also discusses mobile money solutions, and the relationship of that technology to digital currency.

 

The workshop is co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in partnership with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC).

 

Its primary purpose is to provide Caribbean stakeholders from various sectors with interactive sessions along the theme of utilizing technology innovations towards the goal of improving financial transactions and financing arrangements.

 

 

Report of the seminar on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development – Exploring innovation in transactions and financing in the Caribbean (LC/CAR/2017/11) 

 

 

Event video recording

2017

 

Caribbean countries have been seriously impacted by the trend toward “de-risking” in the global financial system, and this is damaging to their economic security and the ability of Caribbean businesses to innovate. De-risking is the name given to the tendency of banking institutions to turn away from working relationships and lines of business for which the cost of regulatory compliance—and the risk of non-compliance— is deemed to be too high in comparison to the returns.

 

This is a phenomenon that is affecting developing economies around the world, but the small and vulnerable economies of the Caribbean have been hardest hit.

 

 

 

The primary purpose and objective of this workshop is to continue providing Caribbean stakeholders from various sectors with interactive sessions along the theme of utilizing technology innovations towards the goal of improving financial transactions and financing arrangements.

 

 

Programme & Presentations available from link above

 

 

Event video recording 

 

Caribbean Digital Financial Services (DFS), DRM & IoT

Peter Nicholls delivers his opening address on behalf of the UN ECLAC at the DFS workshop. Others; Selby Wilson (CTU; partially visible), Cleveland Thomas (ITU), Hon. Darcy Boyce (Barbados)

Post tropical storm Bret, the non-profit SEWATT partnered with local Subway franchise holders to utilize their merchant payment network across several branches, to facilitate donations which were ultimately distributed to beneficiaries as sandwiches. Reliable mechanisms for donations post disaster is recognized as a key element of disaster relief. and national Disaster Risk Management (DRM)  The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) recently published a report entitled “Strengthening cooperation between telecommunications operators and national disaster offices in Caribbean countries” citing the potential benefit of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) enabling donations via short codes post disaster.

  

This issue crosses over into other work which ECLAC has been involved in, in partnering with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to jointly host the 2nd annual Caribbean Digital Financial Services (DFS) workshop over the period 27th – 28th April 2017.

DFS at its very core is about payments and value transfers via mobile and electronic channels. Several sub-areas are encompassed under this banner, including, but not limited to; mobile money, digital currency,  blockchain, regulation, digital ID, digital credit and donations.  It is recognized as an enabler for financial inclusion, banking the under banked, economic empowerment, economic development, strengthening participation in the digital economy and FinTech. It is an area at the intersection of financial and telecommunications regulation.

The agenda can be found at the link above which includes links to key speeches and presentations (videos coming soon).  This workshop follows on from the 2016 intervention where several key issues to Caribbean DFS were uncovered including:

A channel hosting the videos of presentations and panel discussions for the 2016 workshop has been created by UN ECLAC.

Senator The Hon. Darcy Boyce (Barbados) in his opening remarks outlined some areas of key concern for regulators in consideration of financial innovation and DFS, while continuing from the 2016 workshop, the audience was again presented with an examination of mobile money within the Caribbean. This time the emphasis was moved from Haiti to Jamaica where Dr. Maurice McNaughton (UWI) laid out the process by which interactions between the regulator and potential services providers eventually yielded mobile financial services products being brought to market which could facilitate, amongst other types of transactions, Government to Person (G2P) payments.

Within a panel focused on consumer protect in mobile financial services, Dr Kevin Butler of the University of Florida, provided insights into his research into application security (or lack thereof) within a sample of mobile payments apps from several providers. The audience also learnt of concepts which can be utilized to create an enabling regulatory environment for financial innovation, such as sandboxing as presented by Nikola Tchouparov, who has served within two distinct entities which were part of the two cohorts of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority regulatory sandbox.  Additionally, some of the essential points derived from the opening and closing panels where this author directly participated are listed below:

  

DFS Session 1:   Mini-case exploration: Encouraging participation in the digital economy

Panelists: Hon. Melford Nicholas (Antigua & Barbuda), Jason Julien (FCB), Robert De Gannes (Entrepreneur), Glynis Alexander Tam (InfoLink) ; Moderator Shiva Bissessar (Pinaka Technology Solutions)

There is an immediate market available to Caribbean entrepreneurs as comprised of 60M strong diaspora desirous of Caribbean goods which includes cultural goods digital or otherwise.  A better response is required to the needs of our entrepreneurs in having access to this market via the ability to receive payments.  We must leverage technology and innovation to provide for our entrepreneurs while taking into consideration international standards for compliance and controls
  
DFS Session 9:  Next Steps
Panelists: Hon. Darcy Boyce (Barbados), Vashti Maharaj (AG Office, GoRTT), Shiva Bissessar (Pinaka Technology Solutions); Moderator;  Kwesi Prescod

The proposal for a think tank initiative to provide further research into identifying problems and examining potential solutions (from multiple perspectives) such as how tech/innovation can assist the correspondent bank / de-risking problem, Caribbean intra-regional settlement (and FX challenges) and payment system deficiencies, must be examined further to identify potential sources for funding to make it a reality.

Next Steps

The efforts of the UN ECLAC in performing DFS research (digital currency in Caribbean report & prospects for blockchain in de-risking paper) and the efforts of the ITU in bringing enlightenment on DFS issues to Caribbean audiences needs to be applauded.

It is hoped that other actors can now match these efforts and play an active role in the research and development of DFS locally and regionally while identifying and utilizing Caribbean expertise, rather than ‘parachuting in’ foreign expertise, as we are often prone to do. Actors which can potentially play a role here includes:

  • Financial regulators (CBTT, TTSEC, FIU)
  • The National Payments Council
  • The Economic Development Advisory Board
  • The Chamber of Commerce

These parties should review their mandates in accordance with the benefits of DFS and create efforts to ensure Trinidad and Tobago is not left out of the opportunities afforded by FinTech and DFS, while simultaneously addressing risks.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Immediately preceding this workshop, these parties were also involved in the hosting of the Internet of Things (IoT) Smarter Living in the Caribbean forum over the period 24th – 26th April 2017.  Below are some of the key points from this event.

Session 8:  IoT Security + Privacy: policy, legislation, regulation and infrastructure

Panelists: Trevor Forrest (Government ICT adviser, Jamaica), Vashti Maharajh (AG Office, GoRTT), Julian Wilkins (CANTO), Bruno Ramos (ITU; remote conf.); Moderator Shiva Bissessar (Pinaka Technology Solutions)

An importation conclusion was formed by the panel which cited that IoT presented a unique challenge given the unique characteristics of having no user interface and lack of user agreement.  This demands re-examination of the policy and regulatory environment and the surrounding legislative context, with respect to user data privacy and societal security.

Light moment shared while discussing the unique challenges which IoT poses to user security and privacy in IoT session 8

IoT Session 9:  IoT Privacy and Information Security: Caribbean requirements and challenges

Panelists: Hon. Catherine Hughes (Guyana), Trevor Forrest (Government ICT adviser, Jamaica), Dr. Kevin Butler (University of Florida), Shiva Bissessar (Pinaka Technology Solutions); Moderator Nigel Cassimire CTU)

Government need to facilitate the development of opportunities which can foster the growth of an ecosystem of cyber security professionals capable of ising to the challenge of IoT cyber security.

 

Definitely one of the more memorable moments from IoT forum was the participation of several youth ICT innovators and entrepreneurs who showed off their wares in the area of IoT; in particular the audience appreciated the contributions from Cottage IT via Theo Boomsma and one of his proteges Julie Sundar, both hailing from Suriname.

Are Caribbean Cybercrime Bills based on flawed model law? (June 2015)

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***This article was originally published in June 2015 via The Trinidad Guardian & TechnewsTT. It is being republished given the reading of the Cybercrime Bill, 2017, into Parliament on 5th May 2017.***  

I previously presented a partial analysis on the Trinidad & Tobago Cybercrime Bill 2014, entitled “T&T Cybercrime bill demands multi-stakeholder input” which can also be found on my website www.pinaka.co.tt/publications. Within this analysis, some light was shone on perceived problems with outputs of the Harmonization of ICT Policies, Legislation and Regulatory Procedures in the Caribbean (HIPCAR) and Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP) model law exercises. Several Caribbean nations have subsequently used the HIPCAR and EGRIP model laws to develop their proposed cybercrime legislation.

A subsequent December 2014, Council of Europe discussion paper, entitled “Cybercrime Model Laws“, has come to light which examines the various cybercrime outputs from model law exercises in the context of the Budapest Convention.  This Budapest Convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security. 

In this discussion paper, the importance of having proper model law upon which to base legislation development is explained by the author, Zahid Jamil, Barrister-at law. The paper goes further to explain problems of developing legislation based on poor model law by describing the possible situation which states may find themselves in, when seeking international cooperation:

Thus, poorly drafted and divergent model laws can cause countries to enact cybercrime legislation with gaping lacunas whilst at the same time criminalizing and labelling conduct as cybercrime which other countries (especially many members to the Convention) from whom they may seek cooperation would never view as cybercrime.

The paper is also very critical of the methodology adopted in carrying out some model law exercises. For example, in summarizing the methodology employed in the ITU run @CP-ICT Programme which resulted in three model law exercises including HIPCAR, the paper states:

The Models largely appear to have been prepared through input from participants at workshops rather than representatives or experts with an official mandate from State parties and have not received any official assent from the general body of the ITU.

Of interest to the Caribbean, the paper includes analysis and discussion of the HIPCAR and EGRIP model law exercises and highlight significant problems with not only the methodology but also the eventual outcome of these exercises.   For example, specific to the HIPCAR model law output, the paper highlights various deficiencies, continuing:

Its greatest challenge, however, stems from its deviation and attempts to improve upon the language of the Convention (Budapest Convention) whilst inserting unique new offences within the scope of cybercrime, the language of which border on technical and legal absurdities.    

The question which comes to my mind at this point is: are there any instances of problematic model law clauses which have been subsequently incorporated into actual Caribbean cybercrime legislation? In performing analysis on the HIPCAR model law, the paper cites several instances of ‘invention of offences’.  Among these is one item in particular concerning illegally remaining on a system:

It attempts to invent an offence of “Illegal Remaining” which relates to conduct after the initial illegal access of the computer system. The offence considers the conduct of remaining logged in by the offender without any further action or consequence to be an aggravated offence of illegal remaining.

Subsequent analysis of Trinidad and Tobago Cybercrime Bill, 2015, reveals clause 6 which speaks to an offence of illegally remaining on a system as described above.  Hence, is Trinidad and Tobago considering the creation of an offence which is inconsistent with international best practice?   There are some other instances of problems with the HIPCAR cybercrime model law, as cited within the paper, which seems to have been subsequently integrated into our cybercrime legislation; however, I leave this up to others to explore and comment.

Is this kind of deviation from international norms a legitimate concern?  There may very well be legitimate reasons for these deviations, but it is incumbent upon the Government to explain same. The question also arises as to which other Caribbean states may have issues with their proposed cybercrime legislations based on HIPCAR and EGRIP exercises?  The paper cites that the EGRIP model law is even more divergent and problematic than the HIPCAR model law and highlights the case of Grenada which needed to remove certain EGRIP derived clauses from its cybercrime legislation.

In my previous July 2014 article I commended the efforts of Dominica to go beyond the HIPCAR and EGRIP model law efforts in seeking out assistance from the Council of Europe, OAS and Commonwealth Secretariat to review their proposed cybercrime legislation and ensure compliance with the Budapest Convention.  Is this the solution which other Caribbean states should be exploring?

At this juncture when we debate the future of own cybercrime bill, I again make the call for better stakeholder engagement in the development of this legislation and maybe even a review in light of the findings of this paper.

Additional food for thought…  

What about the other laws within Trinidad & Tobago’s e-Legislative agenda which were derived from the HIPCAR exercise?  

Do the methodology problems found in the HIPCAR cybercrime model law exercise extend to these other model laws as well? 

How sufficiently differentiated is our e-Legislative agenda from the HIPCAR model laws?

T&T Cybercrime bill demands multi-stakeholder input (July 2014)

Related image

***This article was originally published in July 2014 via TechnewsTT and is being republished given the reading of the Cybercrime Bill, 2017, into Parliament on 5th May 2017.***  

The case for Multi-stakeholder engagement in reviewing the Trinidad & Tobago Cybercrime Bill, 2014

Summary

The Cybercrime Bill 2014 was read into Parliament by the Minister of National Security, Gary Griffith, on 21/03/14 and subsequent debate occurred in the Lower House of Parliament on 13/06/14.   An alarm has been raised by media workers over certain clauses (21 and 23) in the Bill which they deem to be oppressive to their profession.  Similar dissatisfaction has been expressed by other media workers in other Caribbean territories where attempts to introduce similar legislation have been made. Additionally, questions have arisen over the extent of stakeholder engagement practiced to review and produce the Bill.

This paper presents a historical context of the development of this legislation and presents a review of certain clauses (12, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28 and 31) or aspects within, from an ICT and Information Security perspective, so as to illustrate why a review of the Bill by a wider set of stakeholders may be required at this point. 

Introduction

There has been recent outcry by the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) against the proposed Cybercrime Bill 2014.

“It is evident that the media can be muzzled and the profession of investigative journalism can be undermined if this law is passed.  The government has shown its willingness to discuss such issues before and we ask that they engage the TTPBA and other stakeholders again in order to work in the best interest of our democracy.  In reviewing this Bill, it would seem that no thought was given to the repercussions of a free media nor to the role of the media as watchdogs of our nation.”

Additionally, the Trinidad Guardian editorial, dated 17/06/14, cited concerns with clauses 21 and 23 of the bill and went further to cite lack of proper stakeholder engagement in the consultative process leading up to the laying of the bill in Parliament.  Amongst the “interest groups” cited as requiring time to “weigh in” on the bill was the Law Association, which raises the question as to if the legal fraternity has provided sufficient input on the bill. 

In his contributions to the debate on the Cybercrime Bill as reported by the Trinidad Newsday, dated 16/06/14, Member of Parliament for St. Joseph, Terrence Deyalsingh raised an interesting question of the relevance of the proposed bill in relation to existing laws such as the Telecommunications Act, Electronic Monitoring Act and Interception of Communications Act.  These are all interesting points which lead to the following questions: Where did this bill come from?  Who were the stakeholders consulted?  Does it unfairly target certain groups?  Is the current outcry justified?  How does it integrate into our existing set of laws? The response to these questions should lead to the position that greater stakeholder engagement is required at this point.

Historical Context

The bill is derived from the HIPCAR project which commenced in 2008 and was designed to provide “harmonization of ICT policies and legislation across the Caribbean”.  This project was 95% funded by the European Commission with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as the executing agency and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) as its project advisor.   The fifteen (15) beneficiary countries were identified as Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

As part of its deliverables, it produced “Model Policy Guidelines & Legislation texts” across nine (9) different areas where “Cybercrimes and cybersecurity” was one of the areas.  Supplementing these “model law” deliverables, technical assistance made available to tailor these deliverables to the unique scenario of individual beneficiary countries.  Trinidad and Tobago benefitted from at least two (2) “Stakeholder Validation Consultation and Capacity Building Workshop to review the Legislative Framework on Cybercrime (e-Crimes)” as of June 2012.  In 2009, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia also commenced another effort around ICT harmonization called the Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP).

Clearly, significant effort went into the HIPCAR project; however there has been some dissent amongst Caribbean ICT professionals as to the effectiveness of the deliverables in meeting the needs of the individual beneficiary states.  At the “Caribbean Stakeholders’ Meeting: The Importance of ICTs and their Impact on Regional Development”, which was attended by several regional ICT Ministers, held in  Trinidad over the period 26th to 28th May 2014, the Caribbean Area Representative to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Mr. Cleveland Thomas, acknowledged this dissent but attempted to place it in the context of the significance of the work accomplished given some of the constraints which presented as an externally funded project. 

My own impressions from this meeting on issues of Caribbean cybercrime and cyber secuirty development can be found in my Slideshare folder.  As to if the root of the dissent originates from the model law phase or the tailoring phase, this is up for debate.  However, the fact that questions are now arising over the extent of consultations performed in the production of the Cybercrime Bill, seems to indicate, that the tailoring phase and/or subsequent necessary follow-up consultative processes between June 2012 and June 2014, were not executed properly or did not adequately address the concerns of relevant stakeholders.

Other Caribbean Cybercrime Efforts 

How have other Caribbean nations fared with their own efforts to introduce cybercrime legislation?   

In June 2013, Grenada laid in their Parliament, EGRIP based Electronic Crimes legislation much to the chagrin of local media representative bodies who expressed similar concerns of having their freedom of expression suppressed.  They were supported by international press freedom bodies such as the Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and Vienna based International Pres Institute (IPI) as well as the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM).  Michelle Marius of ICT Pulse provides a good summary of the Grenada experience up to July 2013.

In April 2014, Dominica, which has been a beneficiary to both the HIPCAR and EGRIP projects, embarked upon a National Needs Assessment and Legislative Review Workshop on Cybersecurity with the direction and assistance from international bodies including; Cybersecurity Assessment and Strategy Development from the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), the Council of Europe (COE) the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism of the Organization of American States (CCITE/OAS).  The stated purpose of this workshop was to “review existing e-legislation to determine whether they are in compliance with the International Convention on Cybercrime known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime” towards the development of a national Cybercrime Strategy and establishing a National Cybercrime Policy.  The Dominica example must be commended as an example of tireless effort to getting the right tailored fit for Dominicans in accordance with an international recognized authoritative source.

The Case for Multi Stakeholder Review

The Minister of National Security, Gary Griffith, has heeded the calls of the media fraternity and has invited them to discuss their concerns specific to clause 21 of the Cybercrime Bill.  However, does this mean that the remainder of the Cybercrime Bill is perfectly fine and does not warrant review?  At  this juncture, I believe it would be more beneficial to employ a more encompassing approach bringing together a wide range of professionals from various stakeholder institutions and entities such as the law enforcement, the legal fraternity and of course the technical expertise represented by the ICT and Information Security fraternity.  I shall highlight a few points of concerns I have with the Cybercrime Bill which I have raised with various authorities over the past few months.  These are primarily derived from an ICT and Information Security perspective and underscore the need to solicit and engage in further discussion with others.

Clause 12 & 31: Illegal Devices & Remote Forensic Tool

The bill defines “remote forensic tools” as:

 “…investigative software or hardware installed on or attached to a computer system that is used to perform a task that includes keystroke logging or transmission of an internet protocol address”

This may be a bit misleading as the functionalities mentioned are a bare minimum of what these tools are capable of and indeed further reference to these tools in clause 31 alludes to a usage far greater than “keystroke logging or transmission of an internet protocol address”.  Additionally, such tools would undoubtedly fall under the classification of “Illegal devices” as described in clause 12.

Yet, clause 31(3) calls for internet service providers to “support the installation” of such tools.  It is my view that if competency is expected of persons outside of the police service to support the installation of such tools, explicit protection for such users of these tools for legitimate purposes, for example, academic research or professional duties should be stated within the bill

  Why is this important?  In 2010, the UK Cards Association (representative body for UK banks), attempted to compel the University of Cambridge to remove Omar Choudary’s research thesis from its website which exposed flaws in their Chip and PIN bank card technology.  

Figure 02: Omar Choudary’s specialized hardware ‘device’ used in academic research into Chip & PIN vulnerabilities

Figure 02: Omar Choudary’s specialized hardware ‘device’ used in academic research into Chip & PIN vulnerabilities

Under our Cybercrime Bill, the research performed by Mr Choudary, which required certain hardware tools and software to perform analysis of bank card transactions, could have been deemed as having utilized “illegal devices” with the intent of committing an offence against the members of the UK Cards Association.

  Ultimately the University of Cambridge defended their right to have the work published on their website and the UK Cards Association backed down, however this case still resonates with the way universities approach cybersecurity research.  Having recently completed M.Sc. Information Security studies 2012/13 at University College London, UK, I can personally attest to interactions between one of my classmates and his thesis supervisor on establishing boundaries for the scope of his research into contactless Near Field Communications (NFC) based bank card transactions for fear of how this research and published findings could be perceived.

Figure 4: Proxy and Relay NFC attack scenarios, credit C.Petridis

Figure 4: Proxy and Relay NFC attack scenarios, credit C.Petridis

How would a Caribbean based Bankers Association view a University of West Indies based researcher doing similar work?  What possible pressure could be levied to suppress such work?  Can such legitimate research be misrepresented by a powerful lobbying group as an offensive under our Cybercrime Bill?  In the US similar concerns have emerged from the security research industry with respect to the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) laws being used to target security researchers conducting benign research into internet vulnerabilities

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has produced a “Comprehensive Study on Cybercrime” which presents some of the issues and differences in national strategies in criminalizing “computer misuse tools.  Are we confident we have we found the right fit for Trinidad and Tobago?

Clause: 26 – 28: Order for removal or disablement of data, Production Order & Expedited Preservation

Given the emerging field of cloud computing where data and services from various corporate entities and individuals may be hosted on a single physical server or storage device, i.e. co-located at a 3rd party’s data centre; the issues raised in clause 26 through clause 28 take on a different dimension.  

How does one safely ensure that an “Order for removal or disablement of data” only affects the data and services of the target being investigated?

How does one ensure that in issuing a “Production Order” or an order for “Expedited preservation” one does not inadvertently copy data from another entity who is not the subject of investigation?  This should be a significant concern to corporate entities who would be keenly interested in protecting the privacy or their own data as well as data stored on behalf of their customers.  

How do the police even get forensic access to data of Trinidadian entities when said entity’s data is domicile in other counties?  We would normally believe that Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between countries would bridge this gap, but given the lack of results the public has seen from a very public email investigation originating in 2013 we need to be mindful as to how such investigations are executed.  

 The emerging field of cloud forensics may have some solutions here;  one proposal being to have competent cloud forensic experts on staff at data centres, who are then included in the chain of custody to facilitate such orders which may require instances of data acquiring, removal, disablement etc.  The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) a consortium of cloud industry stakeholders is undertaking an effort at present towards mapping an ISO standard for digital forensics (ISO/IEC 27037:2012) to cloud computing.

While I fully appreciate the need for legislation to be as technology agnostic as possible, I raise this point as an example of how the pace of rapidly emerging and maturing technologies can outstrip the lethargic pace of policy, regulatory and legislative efforts as well as to underscore the importance of technical expertise stakeholder consultations to continuously update these processes with scenarios which may challenge the path being followed.

At present, are there sufficient (or for that matter…any) Information Security centric roles within the public service tasked with looking at these issues from a strategic perspective to come up with the potential scenarios I have outlined above? The capacity building effort to accompany this type of legislative agenda must begin well in advance of enactment but I believe this is sorely lacking at present.

Clause 19:  Violation of Privacy

The advancements have not only been on the technical side though, and again the following two points establish the need for stakeholder engagement with strategic thinkers who are tuned into current issue and can examine if the cybercrime policy, regulatory and legislative efforts being pursued are sufficient.  It also underscores the need for possible further analysis at the legal wording of certain clauses.

Michael Robertson of Massachusetts, USA, was charged with two counts of violating several women’s right to privacy by taking ‘upskirt’ photos of them.   Upskriting refers to the practice of covertly taking photos of another person’s exposed underwear or private area without their knowledge. While his defence acknowledged that he did take such photos of women as they used public transport, they argued that the wording of the ‘peeping tom’ laws he was charged under, only made provisions for victims who were nude or semi-nude; consequently, in March 2014 he was found not guilty.  In light of this ruling the wording of clause 19(3) of our own Cybercrime Bill which deals with violation of privacy offences, may require a revisit to ensure that the intention of the clause is maintained under the circumstances cited in this case.

Clause 21: Harassment utilizing electronic communication

 This is one of the clauses which has drawn the ire of Caribbean media workers, and their take on the matter has been well ventilated; my views are presented from the technical perspective.   Again the wording of certain clauses comes into focus when one looks at clause “Harassment utilizing electronic communication” specifically clauses 21(1) & 21(6) where the term cyberbully is mentioned.

As currently worded the “cyberbully” needs to use the computer system “repeatedly or continuously” to commit an offence against someone.  Yet, there are instances where a single action by an offending party (i.e. non-repeated or non-continuous) on a social media site against a victim can spawn a multitude of supporting actions from other entities all directed against the same victim.  For example, it not inconceivable that a single offensive tweet about someone can lead to a multitude of retweets and favourites without any follow-up action from the offending party.

In such an instance the concept of the use of a computer to “support severe repeated and hostile behaviour” as found I the original HIPCAR model law document may be more appropriate given the context and usage of the word “support”.  Again, this is one for the legal wording experts.

HIPCAR Cybercrime model law document

HIPCAR Cybercrime model law document

Clause 23:  Offence by body corporate

Interestingly, one of the areas of the Cybercrime Bill which I actually view as strengthening the cause of ensuring proper Information Security Governance within corporate entities is one of the clauses which media workers have taken issue with i.e. clause 23.  Different lens of perception leads to a different point of view!

While I fully appreciate the media workers perspective, from an ICT and Information Security perspective, I view this clause as placing responsibility squarely on the shoulders of corporate entities, and appropriate individual members of staff, to ensure that they have practiced “due diligence” in their efforts to secure their ICT infrastructure, people and processes from committing offenses identified within the bill.  Further details on my opinion of the benefits of this clause can be found in my Slideshare folder

 Conclusion

While the Government must be commended for their continued efforts to keep legislation abreast with technical advancement, it is incumbent upon the Government to ensure that as wide as possible stakeholder engagement takes place into reviewing the bill and ensuring that concerns are captured and treated with appropriately. It is also incumbent upon the Government to ensure that they have the right compliment of technical expertise on board to continuously survey the landscape of cybersecurity and cybercrime developments around the world and constantly provide feedback on policy/regulatory and legislative efforts being pursued.  

The limited review presented here is illustrative of the complexity of the issue and how its multiple dimensions resultantly produced multiple perspectives.   For example, some of the opposition I’ve heard coming from local and Caribbean based ICT professionals have to do with the harsh penalties and sentences for certain offensives; yet recently in the UK there has been overwhelming support for announcements of life sentences for certain cyberattack offenses.  

Somewhere a balance must be found and it is up to the public at large, corporate entities and institutions to inform themselves on how this bill potentially impacts them.  These views must then be presented to public officials at appropriate forums designed to receive and objectively process such feedback. Multi-stakeholder engagement is now required to find the most appropriate fit for Trinidad and Tobago.

Lessons for the Caribbean from the OAS-FIRST Cyber Security Colloquium

 

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Trinidad & Tobago’s delegation to OAS Cyber Security Colloquium. From left, Sean Fouche, IT Manger of CARICOM IMPACS; Amos Sylvester, law enforcement;  Angus Smith, Manager, Trinidad and Tobago CSIRT and Wendell Diaz, Director WASA. Image credit, Shiva Bissessar

The Organisation of American States (OAS) in collaboration with the Forum of Incident Response and Security Team (FIRST) hosted a technical colloquium and cyber security workshop over the period Sept 29th to Oct 1st 2015 in Washington DC.  The colloquium brought together several practitioners from various states within the Americas to participate in interactive sessions guided by international experts from several countries including Canada, Estonia, Poland and Spain to name a few.  The event was divided into three distinct tracks; Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) and Law Enforcement.

CIP is dedicated towards securing networks utilised in the provision of services critical to the functions of a nation state.  Networks found in public utilities or the energy sector, for example, their Industrial Control Systems (ICS) or networks and systems in the finance sector, would qualify for CIP.  CSIRTs are that first line of defence which receives reports of cyber security incidents, performs incident triage and analysis & prioritizes and escalates incidents towards coordinated response and resolution as necessary.  Locally, some attention is being paid to energy sector CIP via the Energy Sector Security Initiative (ESSI) while the Trinidad and Tobago CSIRT is still in development.

The Caribbean was well represented at the colloquium with participants from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago. These representatives came from different professional backgrounds which generally guided the track they chose to follow.  Cybercrime does not respect physical boundaries, thus responses must encompass participation from both the public and private sector and the delegation from Trinidad and Tobago represented an appropriate mix of participants, as shown above.  This included my own participation as a member of the private sector upon invitation and part sponsorship by the OAS.   It was good to see a representative from a Trinidad & Tobago public utility in attendance as CIP should be a major area of concern for a small country largely dependent on the energy sector.

Local and International Cooperation & Coordination

The perception that cybercrime only hurts big business persists; and even some officials do not treat cybercrime with the seriousness they would treat more traditional crimes.  This was underscored by Minster in the Ministry of ICT of Colombia, Mr. David Luma, who noted that normal everyday “citizens on the street” need to be reached via cyber security awareness campaigns.  He also emphasized that cybercrime impacts the everyday lives of people and addressed the ‘laissez faire’ approach which some take to cybercrime risk by reminding participants that just because they have not been affected does not mean that they have not been targeted or under threat at some point.

Matthew Noyes of the U.S. Secret Service, which has a historical mandate of protecting payment and financial systems in the U.S., outlined some of the work they do towards this objective.  He stated that criminals receive so much payment card data in some cyber-attacks that they cannot monetise it fast enough, leading to the development of underground secondary markets for stolen payment card data.  He referred to the work of Brian Krebs, the de-facto standard for investigative journalism and reporting of financial system breaches, where Krebs gave a “Peek inside a Professional Carding Shop” in June 2015.  This story included details of how these secondary markets for stolen payment cards data have advanced by highlighting that potential buyers can now sort the stolen card data by “city, state and ZIP” thereby increasing their chances of purchasing stolen card data which will not throw up red flags on fraud detection systems due to abnormal geographic usage patterns.

He further dispelled the myth of ‘hackers’ being of the ‘lone wolf’ variety working out of their mother’s basement and gave a more accurate portrayal of them being akin to capable professional entities working transnationally to carry out complex, coordinated attacks.  This description was reinforced by several speakers with some even noting that attackers had an advantage over the good guys on this front as harmonization and coordination of responses to attacks are not as coordinated as the original attack.  As shown by the Director of the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC), Gwen Beauchemin, there is a diverse range of motivations, attacker profiles and attack surfaces which need to be taken into account to fully address cyber security.

 

 

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Attacker motivations, profiles and attack surfaces.  Image credit, Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC)

Cyber Security Awareness

The OAS also used the occasion to mark the opening of National Cyber Security Awareness Month by hosting another day of cyber security panel discussion and presentations underscoring the importance of awareness, on October 2nd. Delivering the keynote address was the Estonian president, Toomas Ilves, who gave insights into how Estonia, a small nation with a population of 1.4 million people, became global leader in ICT and cyber security.  He attributed his nation’s achievement in provisioning the majority of Government services online to (i) the development of their fast data exchange layer (X-road) and (ii) secure identity management via two factor authentication.  Further, he espoused a philosophy of encouraging both exposure to ICT and the development of ICT products from a young age, citing the Estonia success story of development of Skype.  Certainly Trinidad & Tobago and the wider Caribbean could learn some lessons here given our dependence on foreign based ICT solutions.

VP, Cyber Security of TrendMicro, Tom Kellerman, lamented the fact that some organisations do not expend enough effort into cyber security awareness going so far to suggest that if budget is a concern, then organisations need to start spending some of their marketing budget on “brand protection” from cyber risks.  This resonated deeply within me given my own drive on the awareness front, I have encountered Information Technology professionals who remain apathetic towards the need for proper Information Security Awareness campaigns within their environment.  So much so, that at times I have switched focus away from the technical people to pitch awareness to HR or Safety departments along the dimension of changing organisational behaviours toward proper information handing.   After all, proper cyber security is a risk management issue rather than an IT problem. To understand the significance of cyber awareness, consider that the devastating 2014 attacks on SONY, incorporated phishing campaigns to retrieve credentials from system administrators, as a first step.  Now, if even the ‘techy sys admins’ can be duped, how would your normal staff fare against social engineering tactics?  Are they capable of recognizing such threats?

Developing the Caribbean Cyber Security Ecosystem

As many presenters attempted to convey, we need to move away from thinking of cybercrime as acts perpetrated by single entities and view cybercrime as being executed by well-funded organised groups which have no respect for international borders.  Hence, this requires a coordinated response from both the public and private sector and coordination and cooperation locally and internationally.    Caribbean nations therefore need to develop cyber security holistically rather than adopting a silo approach to cybercrime.  The nation state cannot do this on its own and while seeking assistance from bodies such as the OAS on matters of strategy, policy, legislation etc. they must simultaneously involve, engage and encourage participation from the private sector, academia and civil society on these initiatives.  This would ensure capacity building and the creation of a cyber security ecosystem of professionals including researchers, lecturers, writers, service providers and vendors to contribute towards local and regional protection.

 

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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Exploring digital currency and E-payment in the Caribbean

*This post was initially carried by the Trinidad Express, Sept 29th

**While reference is made within this piece to a study and report, the opinions expressed are my own.

 

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Figure 1: UN ECLAC 1st EGM: (Left to Right) ECLAC’s Deputy Director (Ag.) and Associate Information Management Officer. Dillon Alleyne and Robert Williams, respectively & consultant, Shiva Bissessar (courtesy UN ECLAC)

In November 2014 The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) commenced a study entitled “Opportunities and risks associated with the advent of digital currency in the Caribbean”, where yours truly was selected as the consultant to perform the required research and write the final report.  The study sought to introduce the Caribbean to the phenomenon of digital currency and explore the opportunities and risks which arise from application of this innovation within the Caribbean.  The work was performed in the context of continued regional deficiencies in electronic payment infrastructure (e-commerce and mobile money) and the appearance of service providers seeking to provide solutions in response to these deficiencies including digital currency service providers.

The study brought together key stakeholders within the Caribbean involved in activities toward the development of better electronic payment infrastructure. These stakeholders included:

  • E-commerce providers & software developers desirous of more responsive payment infrastructure
  • Mobile wallet & digital currency service providers seeking entry in the Caribbean
  • Central Bank Policy and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) senior representatives
  • Government senior legal representative
  • Finance academia representative

These parties were identified and invited to participate in two Expert Group Meetings (EGM).  The 1st EGM was essential towards data collection of the views and positions of the aforementioned while the 2nd EGM was used to review a final draft of thereport.  The summaries of these meetings remain the only public output of this study to date.

The study also served to conduct a formal survey of some of the region’s Central Banks as to their awareness on digital currency and mobile money in the evolving landscape of electronic payments. The study was intended to provide Caribbean authorities with enough information for them to begin the process of performing a balanced evaluation of opportunities and risks associated with digital currency in the Caribbean.

Key Takeaways

*As the study remains unpublished, there are limits as to what can be discussed, however some aspects as made public in the EGM reports are referenced.

The study uncovered evidence of longstanding deficiencies in electronic payment systems within the Caribbean which has forced e-commerce vendors to rely on workaround methods to receive payments.  The deficiencies manifest as prohibitive charges and burdensome requirements placed on vendors to acquire local merchant accounts with the ability to receive credit card payment.  This has forced certain vendors to take a path of least resistance and resort to external payment providers such as Paypal, rather than contend with the expensive red tape laden scenario as posed by local banks.

The study also uncovered instances of vendors seeking to provide mobile money and digital currency solutions, including remittance solutions, within certain Caribbean territories.  However, given the innovativeness of the solutions these vendors were seeking to provide, their regulatory uncertainty and the largely risk averse commercial banking sector, such vendors have had difficulty in acquiring bank accounts to provide their services.  Indeed, it is worth noting that a low return of completed survey instruments was experienced within the study, in seeking feedback from regional Central Banks.

If we were to compare the approach towards digital currency within the Caribbean against that of a first world capital of finance e.g. London, we would find that a predominantly unacquainted and conservative approach dominates the Caribbean mindset, with many in authority focusing on the weaknesses of digital currency. Contrast this with the approach taken by the UK’s HMRC in March 2015 where intentions towards standardisation in consumer protection and AML regulation of digital currency were announced while also allocating £10M towards further research.  The contrast is illustrated below.

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Figure 2: The Caribbean seems to be stuck focusing weaknesses of digital currency while global finance capitals are improving on weaknesses and exploiting opportunities. (Bissessar, 2014 & 2015)

 

Hence, if the full benefits of digital currency are to be achieved within the Caribbean we cannot continue to rely on traditional actors as noted in the 2nd EGM meeting notes (item #47).

“In discussion on the conclusion of the study, the consultant expressed the view that the current target audience for the study may need to be shifted away from central bankers. He noted that central bankers have demonstrated a reticence to officially comment on the process, as suggested by their lack of response to the survey instrument. He expressed the view that central banks as regulators tend towards deference on the concerns of international finance bodies, which invariably raises the level of risk aversion. This institutional environment does not augur well for the encouragement of technological innovation in the region. He suggested that perhaps if the focus of the study’s discussion shifted towards academics and the technology and innovation sector, more traction could be gained toward regional engagement with issues surrounding digital currencies, and the momentum could be built upon to encourage a more active role on the part of regulators. He also noted that it was not the role of the study to sell regulators on the benefits of these technologies, but rather to bring legitimacy to the debate around digital currencies and to encourage local and regional authorities to treat with the issue objectively, rather than with a sole focus on risk.”

 

Relevance of this Caribbean study 

In February 2015 the Commonwealth held the Virtual Currency Round Table which was attended remotely by Mr. Robert Williams of ECLAC who articulated the objective evaluation of both opportunities and risks of digital currency which the ECLAC study was achieving within the Caribbean region.  Also participating in this meeting was Jamaica’s Director of Legal Reform within the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Maurice Bailey who also actively participated in, and commended the efforts of, the study within the 2nd ECLAC EGM in April 2015.  Subsequently, the Commonwealth Working Group on Virtual Currencies (CWGVC) released conclusions from their meeting in Aug 2015  as shown below:

 

CONCLUSIONS

The Group agreed that:

  • Virtual currencies have a potential to benefit Member States and to drive development;
  • The use of virtual currencies has benefits and risks;
  • Awareness, education and funding for training for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, regulatory authorities and the financial sector are needed;
  • Member States should consider developing and improving the capacity of law enforcement especially in the areas of digital forensics and analytics;
  • Member States should consider the applicability of their existing legal frameworks to virtual currencies and where appropriate they should consider adapting them or enacting new legislation to regulate virtual currencies;
  • Legal frameworks should address risks and vulnerabilities, be technologically neutral and avoid stifling innovation;
  • Member States are encouraged to implement the FATF Guidance for a Risk Based Approach to Virtual Currencies (June 2015);
  • The Commonwealth Secretariat should create a digital repository of best practice and model regulations as part of an online community to assist Member States in developing policy; and
  • Relevant technical terms should be clearly defined in the guidance to be made available to Member States.

OUTCOMES

The Group resolved upon the following outcomes (the ‘Outcomes’):

  • to complete a report on the prevalence and impact of virtual currencies within one (1) month;
  • to convene again in early 2016 to consider draft technical guidance for member states on virtual currencies; and
  • to continue to raise awareness and develop capacity building on virtual currencies within the Commonwealth

 

Various aspects cited within the CWGVC conclusions are treated with in the ECLAC study including:

  • Discussion of some possible distinct benefits to the Caribbean
  • Discussion of anonymity (relevant to law enforcement, prosecutors, digital forensics etc.)
  • Discussion of treatment options re: policy and regulatory development, FATF guidelines

Hence, this ECLAC study can contribute to the overall best practice, awareness and capacity building efforts as mandated within the CWGVC conclusions.  The Caribbean therefore has the opportunity to be recognized as being early and taking a forward thinking and balanced approach towards getting ahead of the game with respect to this emerging financial innovation.

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