说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/top.gif

Summer  2017 Issue 58

 

Special Focus |  Policy and Legislation |  e-Government |  e-Commerce |  e-Society |  e-Security |  ICT Development

 


Contact Us: unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifThe Next Chapter in Internet Governance

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifInternet of People Blockchain Project Fermat Adopts Distributed Governance

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Get Ready for Net Neutrality's Ugly Return

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif AFRICA: Tunisian Telecom Authority Adopts Transparency Measures

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifEUROPE: E-democracy - Opportunities and Risks

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif E-Democracy: Could It Bridge the Gap Between the EU Institutions and the Citizens?

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Katrin Nyman Metcalf on Legal Aspects of Egoverance in Estonia

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif JAPAN: System Eyed for Sharing Public, Private Disaster Info

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif SINGAPORE: To Train 10,000 Public Servants with Data Science in Next Five Years

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif BANGLADESH: IT Ministry-- National Assembly Panel Approves Rs 2.56 Billion Outlay Under PSDP

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Modi Advocates Use of IT for Speedy Delivery of Justice

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif E-governance Through e-Nagarpalika in Madhya Pradesh

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifSRI LANKA: Exploring Digital Identity Council for Citizen Data

 

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifLATIN AMERICA: Mexico Telecom Investment Up 7.6% to MXN 70 Bln in 2016

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说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif AUSTRALIA: National Audit Office Looks to Outsource IT Services

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Empired 'Exclusive' Role in NEC Consortium Delivering Services to WA Govt

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Trial Completes First Delivery of E-Invoice by Government

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gif Budget Short on Funding to Address ICT Skills Gap: ACS

说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: 说明: http://www.unpan.org/information/RCOCI%20GovernanceWatch/images/new/dot.gifNEW ZEALAND: Intellectual Property Office Ranked World’s Online Best

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GLOBAL: Big Data Can Have a 'Big Impact' on Achievement of Global Goals, UN Says on IT Day

 

Mastering and measuring 'big data' – to map poverty from space or use mobile phones to track food security – could boost evidence-based decision-making at local and global levels and drive the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations telecommunications agency said today.“The theme for 2017 is Big Data for Big Impact, which will explore the power of big data for development and examine the opportunities to convert unprecedented quantities of data into information that can drive development,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication, Union Houlin Zhao, in his message on the Day.Mr. Zhao projects that the insight brought about by more focused data analysis will enable evidence-based decision-making at national, regional and international levels and help to advance the UN 2030 Agenda and its corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated annually on 17 May to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

 

This year's commemoration also provides an occasion to take a closer look at the importance of governance and regulation, says Mr. Zaho, highlighting the implications for personal privacy and security given the future exponential growth in data and connectivity.The ITU Secretary-General further states that activities undertaken by the ITU membership will contribute towards building momentum to embrace big data on a global scale and to seize new opportunities to address development challenges.Recently ITU announced the top-90 winning Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) initiatives from around the world competing for prestigious WSIS Prizes 2017, with over a million online votes casted for 345 nominated projects. The winners will be announced during ITU's World Summit on the Information Society Forum in June.

From http://www.un.org/ 05/18/2017

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GLOBAL: Big Data Can Have a 'Big Impact' on Achievement of Global Goals, UN Says on IT Day

 

Mastering and measuring 'big data' – to map poverty from space or use mobile phones to track food security – could boost evidence-based decision-making at local and global levels and drive the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations telecommunications agency said today.“The theme for 2017 is Big Data for Big Impact, which will explore the power of big data for development and examine the opportunities to convert unprecedented quantities of data into information that can drive development,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication, Union Houlin Zhao, in his message on the Day.Mr. Zhao projects that the insight brought about by more focused data analysis will enable evidence-based decision-making at national, regional and international levels and help to advance the UN 2030 Agenda and its corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated annually on 17 May to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

 

This year's commemoration also provides an occasion to take a closer look at the importance of governance and regulation, says Mr. Zaho, highlighting the implications for personal privacy and security given the future exponential growth in data and connectivity.The ITU Secretary-General further states that activities undertaken by the ITU membership will contribute towards building momentum to embrace big data on a global scale and to seize new opportunities to address development challenges.Recently ITU announced the top-90 winning Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) initiatives from around the world competing for prestigious WSIS Prizes 2017, with over a million online votes casted for 345 nominated projects. The winners will be announced during ITU's World Summit on the Information Society Forum in June.

From http://www.un.org/ 05/18/2017

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EUROPE: Data Market to Grow to EUR 107 bln by 2020 - Study

 

The European market of digital products and services (“EU data market") is set to almost double in size from EUR 59.5 billion in 2016 to EUR 106.8 billion by 2020, according to the high growth scenario set out in the latest European Data Market study published by the European Commission. The study found that 6.16 million people in Europe worked in data-related jobs in 2016, a figure that’s expected to increase at a compound average growth rate of 14.1 percent to hit 10.43 million by 2020.According to the monitoring tool, in 2016 there was a gap between total demand and supply of data workers of 420,000 unfilled data worker positions in the EU. By 2020, the EU is forecasted to face a data skills gap corresponding to 769,000 unfilled positions, above all in the large Member States such as Germany and France.The report added that the EU data industry as a whole comprised approximately of 255,000 data companies in 2016, a figure that's set to increase at a CAGR of 8.9 percent to 359,050 by 2020 under the high growth scenario forecast.

From https://www.telecompaper.com/ 05/04/2017

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CHINA: Leading Asia in Digital Transformation - Report

 

Chinese companies have outperformed their Asian counterparts in digital transformation, according to a report by a leading software developer. About 91 percent of Chinese mainland respondents used software development strategy DevOps and about 88 percent Agile. In other Asian countries the figures were 88 percent and 86 percent respectively, according to a report by CA Technologies. Agile and DevOps are two of the most popular tools to help companies to upgrade their IT infrastructure. Digitalization is expanding into other industries like banking, manufacturing and telecoms, according to Martin Mackay, CA Technologies president and general manager responsible for the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region. Despite high awareness of digitalization tools, only 33 percent of Chinese respondents used them throughout the company, the report showed.

 

Other than technology and investment, Martin pointed out that the biggest challenge for companies in digitizing is culture, with a flat corporate culture easier to digitize than a hierarchical one. "It's not that the IT department wants to change, but that the business is changing, and you have to adapt to changes faster than your competitors," said Nick Lim, ASEAN and Greater China vice president with CA Technologies. "China is a key market for us and we will continue to grow business here as ongoing economic upgrades mean more companies in China will go digital," Lim added.                        

From http://www.news.cn/ 03/18/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: Smart Health Care Industry at Standstill - Report

 

South Korea's smart health care industry that is viewed as a next growth engine for the country has been at a standstill for the past five years due to lack of policy coordination, a report by a local think tank said Sunday. According to the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, the country's health care-related businesses have been growing steadily in size over the years, but there has been a lack of growth in services provided by local companies. "In the 2010-2015 period, the number of smart health care companies grew 5.8 percent annually to reach 500," it said. Of the companies in operation, 53 percent were in equipment manufacturing and 24 in parts, with those in the service sector standing at just 6 percent. The state-run think tank said that this is limiting overall growth of the industry as a whole. KIET said total domestic sales in smart health care stood at 101 trillion won ($89.3 billion) as of 2015, not much different from 100 trillion won reported five years earlier.

"The proportion of companies actually providing health care services to consumers are very small, with many in these areas suffering from heavy debt," the latest findings showed. Such a development raises the risk that companies may be forced to close. The debt ratio of health service providers and content developers stood in the 60-70 percent range. KIET added that many of these companies were small and medium-sized enterprises, with their average numbers of employees not exceeding 50. The report then said that to overcome existing challenges, revisions to existing laws and rules must take place through policy coordination. "There is also a need to address the imbalance in the local business environment that is centered on manufacturing," it said, emphasizing the need to provide more diverse services to consumers to fuel more growth.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 03/20/2017

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SINGAPORE: New Cybersecurity Professional Scheme to Groom Public Sector Experts

 

SINGAPORE: A new Cybersecurity Professional Scheme for the public sector was revealed by the Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday (Mar 6). Speaking during his ministry’s Committee of Supply (COS) debates in Parliament, Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security, said the scheme is aimed to attract, develop and retain cybersecurity practitioners (CSPs) in the public sector. There are currently about 300 officers doing cybersecurity work in the public sector, and the Government hopes to double this over the next few years, he said. Centrally managed by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), the scheme will develop a core of cybersecurity specialists to be deployed across agencies to support Singapore’s cyber defences, Dr Yaacob said. Besides gaining practical experiences through postings to the 11 critical sectors and different public agencies, CSPs can choose to build deeper technical competencies across the Government in areas such as security-by-design consultancy and cyber forensics.

 

The scheme will be operational from July this year, MCI said.  “As part of the on-going efforts to professionalise the wider cyber workforce, the scheme will also provide a framework to catalyse growth and uplift the overall industry,” Dr Yaacob said. The scheme is in addition to other manpower development efforts previously announced or during the current COS such as the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme and the Ministry of Defence announcing its new NS cyber vocation, and will help complement these, he added.  The minister also noted efforts by the private sector to grow the industry, pointing to Singtel, for instance, and its interactive online portal called the Cyber Security Experience. The portal, which will be launched soon, will reach out to students to interest them in the topic and hopefully get them to join the field in the future, he said. The increased focus on cybersecurity, particularly in the public sector, comes amid the revelation that MINDEF’s Internet-facing I-net system was breached and personal data of 850 national servicemen and staff were stolen.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/06/2017

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VIETNAM: Cashless Economy Target Too High - Experts

 

The Prime Minister recently ratified a project to stimulate non-cash transactions in 2016-20 with a view to reducing the cash transactions rate to under 10 per cent. The project aims to accelerate e-commerce and implement the Master Scheme on E-commerce Development. All supermarkets and modern distribution centres will take part in e-commerce while 70 per cent of water, electricity, telecom payments will be in non-cash mode. Half of all individuals and households will switch to non-cash transactions. New, modern means of payments will be developed in rural and remote areas, financial inclusion will be targeted and at least 70 per cent of people aged over 15 will have bank accounts by 2020. These targets were outlined based on encouraging achievements in the last six years, which have gradually made non-cash payments a trend in Việt Nam. Cash payments as a ratio of total payments have declined from 14.02 per cent in 2010 to 12 per cent now. According to a State Bank of Việt Nam report released recently, there are currently around 67.4 million bank accounts compared to 16.8 million in 2010.

 

Modern infrastructure and technology to facilitate non-cash payments, especially online payments, have developed significantly. The number of bank cards has increased to around 111 million now. There are around 254,000 points of sales (POS) and 17,380 automatic teller machines (ATMs), up 13.77 per cent and 5.39 per cent since the end of 2015. The central bank has also rolled out policies related to modern infrastructure and technology to boost non-cash payments, protect customers’interest and ensure service quality. It has instructed banks to quickly convert all magnetic cards into chip cards to prevent fraud. It wants all ATM cards to become EMV-standard chip cards by 2020 to reduce the risks involved in e-commerce for both buyers and sellers. But analysts, while not denying the recent accomplishments, still have doubts about the cash-use target. They said cash was used in nearly 90 per cent of all transactions, and there were only three years left to reduce that to below 10 per cent.

 

The biggest hindrance to achieving the target is the people’s cash habit, with not only individuals but even businesses yet to get used to non-cash transactions. For instance, the facility to pay taxes online has been in place since 2014 and 95 per cent of all enterprises have registered for it, but many do not use it. Besides, this remains an alien concept to the millions of business households and private individuals. Although e-commerce has developed rapidly in Việt Nam, a majority of buyers still opt for cash on delivery (COD). According to the Department of E-commerce and Information Technology, many still prefer COD partly due to their habit and partly because they do not fully trust e-commerce websites. Only around 4.5 million people have applied for e-payment of electricity bills, a mere 18.47 per cent of the total number of users in the country, according to Electricity of Việt Nam. Banking insiders said most supermarkets, commercial centres and other modern retail sites accepted cards.

 

Meanwhile, by October last year, 90 per cent of urban people possessed cards, with the total number of cards reaching 110.8 million. But the number of users was very modest at just 15 per cent. One of the reasons is that though a huge number cards have been issued, the location of ATMs is skewed in favour of major cities while 70 per cent of the country’s population lives in rural areas. Another reason is the lack of security, which makes people apprehensive about non-cash payment methods. A spokesperson for the Commerce Development Research Institute pointed out that the habit of cash payment remains widespread, especially in rural areas. Besides, the interest rate and fees on credit on credit cards are astronomical, which also makes people reluctant to use them. To ensure that the PM’s non-cash payment plan can be achieved on schedule, all these problems must be resolved immediately, analysts said.

 

S Koreans dominate VN entertainment industry

Executives of Multimedia Joint Stock Company have been very busy working with some major partners from South Korea. They include YG Entertainment, which manages many of Korea’s biggest stars like Big Bang, 2NE1, PSY, Epik High, Choi Ji Woo, Black Pink and Lee Jong Suk, its subsidiary YGKplus, the country’s leading modelling agency, and Naver.com, the country’s biggest search engine and online media and entertainment channel. The Korean companies are seeking to tie up with Multimedia JSC in entertainment and fashion. They will send their stars to participate in major entertainment events in Việt Nam like the Vietnam International Fashion Week and also create opportunities for Vietnamese models in Korea. Besides YG Entertainment and Naver.com, many other Korean companies in movies, the media and entertainment also have plans to enter the Vietnamese entertainment market. The Việt Nam Film Distribution Association said the market was dominated by foreign distributors, many of them Korean. Việt Nam now has more than 50 cinema chains. Korean-owned CJ CGV Việt Nam is the largest in the market with 30 cinemas in 10 major cities. Lotte Cinema, also owned by South Korea, has 16 cinemas. A CJ CGV executive said each year the company opened around 10 cinemas in Việt Nam and expected to reach 60 by next year.

 

Market observers said South Korean investors saw plenty of opportunities in the Vietnamese entertainment industry. They find that the Vietnamese entertainment market is still in a fledgling state while the demand for entertainment has skyrocketed in step with living standards, meaning the sky could be the limit for investors. The fact that Việt Nam and Korea have many cultural similarities means Korean entertainment investors with their quality products can attract Vietnamese audiences easily. On the commercial side of things, there are several trade agreements Việt Nam has signed which offer opportunities to foreign investors, including those in the entertainment industry. Analysts said all this meaned pressure on domestic entertainment companies, who could lose the market completely to the Koreans if they were slow to react. In 2005 CJ CGV and Vietnamese company VIFA established a joint venture called CJ-VIFA whose first project was the drama “Mùi Ngò gai”. Then CJ CGV bought out Megastar, the largest chain of cinemas in Việt Nam at that time. At the beginning of 2014, after closing the acquisition, Megastar was renamed CGV. CGV now accounts for over a half the Vietnamese cinema market. It also dominates the film import market, and by showing more movies than its rivals, including blockbusters, CGV has become popular among the public. CJ CGV’s strategy is a vital lesson for local entertainment companies.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 03/06/2017

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AUSTRALIA: Aussies Have Little Faith in Govts' Use of Tech - Study

 

Few Australians have faith that governments at any level can use technology competently to deliver services to the people, a study claims.The Australian Information Industry Association said on Tuesday that a national study had found that Australians had almost universal (99%) interest in seeing governments use the latest technology for service delivery.But they rated the governments lowest when it came to the ability to do so, compared to other industries.The study was conducted online by Galaxy Research between 14 and 18 February using a nationally representative sample of 1004 Australians aged 18 or older. Data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.Only 16% agreed that the federal government was using the latest tech well to deliver services. The percentages for state (14%) and local governments (12%) were lower.

 

Similar results were obtained when the study participants were asked whether governments had the ability to use technology well to deliver services. Only 19% agreed the federal government was up to the mark, while state (15%) was lower down the scale.By comparison, companies rated much better: banks and financial institutions (64%); online shopping sites (61%); travel information and booking sites (48%); telecommunications providers (39%); entertainment sites (39%); gas and electricity utilities (28%); and health services (25%).Commenting on the results, AIIA chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said: "Australian consumers have always been credited as early adopters of new technology, which is consistent with our collective desire to see government using the latest technology."Many expect to have the same experience engaging with government bodies as they would with their bank or an online shopping site. As technology advances, customer expectations keep changing, and it's important that government keep pace.

 

"However, it's not just about service. The economic benefits from having a digital economy are well known, and there is clear opportunity for government to take the lead and speed up Australia's digital transformation."About three-quarters of the study participants said the main benefit from government using the latest technology was to improve the quality and accuracy of services."What this result says to me is that even though there have been some misfires recently when it comes to execution, such as the census outages and the Centrelink errors, Australians want the government to progress and improve its use of technology rather than regress back to the 'old' way of doing things,” Fitzpatrick said.Sixty-four per cent of the participants said a combination of technology and customer-facing personnel would deliver the best outcome when it came to government services.But the percentages differed, based on respondents' ages. Nineteen per cent of Gen Y and 13% of Gen X favoured full automation, while only 6% of baby boomers and 4% of traditionalists (those aged above 65) agreed.On the other hand, 26% percent of traditionalists wanted automation removed in toto and services provided in customer-facing service centres.

 

The full results of the study will be discussed at the AIIA's 2017 Navigating Digital Government Summit to be held in Canberra on 5 April.The conference speakers include:Professor Genevieve Bell, College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University (ANU);The new chief executive officer of the Digital Transformation Agency (who has not yet been announced);Ed Husic, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy;Gary Sterrenberg, chief information officer, Department of Human Services;Peter Alexander, first assistant secretary projects, procurement and assurance, Digital Transformation Agency;Louise Glanville, deputy chief executive for governance and stakeholder relations, National Disability Insurance Agency;Dan Bognar, senior vice-president, APAC solutions engineering, cloud sales, industries and innovation, Salesforce; and,AdiKavaler, global vice president, products & strategy application delivery management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, will deliver the closing keynote.

From https://www.itwire.com 03/14/2017

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CANADA: Online Tax Filing Is an E-government Success Story

 

Overall, Canadians are satisfied with online tax filing, but privacy concerns and lack of digital skills mean that achieving a fully digital tax system will take time.It is tax season once again and Canadians are busy preparing their tax returns. Most filers will submit a return online, either directly through NETFILE or by having an accounting firm or tax preparation company submit it online through EFILE. Electronic filing of taxes has quietly become the most-used electronic service provided by the government of Canada.Online filing started on an experimental basis in 1999 and was expanded to a full service in 2000. Writing in 2006, Jeffrey Roy noted in E-Government in Canada: Transformation for the Digital Age that half of Canadian tax filers in 2004 submitted their returns online and described the program as “the most significant example of success” of e-government services. According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), 84 percent of tax returns were submitted online in 2016. The number of returns filed electronically has increased every year for the last five years.The rapid uptake of this technology by Canadians suggests that it is a success, but we wanted to hear more from Canadians. Who submits online and who still submits on paper? How do users of the e-service assess their experience? Why do some Canadians prefer to send a return through the mail? In May and June 2016, as part of our Online Citizenship Canada project, which is studying Canadians’ online political activities, we conducted an online survey of 1,000 people. Since the tax filing deadline for 2015 had just passed, we decided to ask them a few questions about their experience.

 

Who submits online?

To begin, we asked respondents whether they had submitted their 2015 federal tax returns through the CRA website. One out of three respondent hadn’t because someone else had submitted it for them (31 percent) or they hadn’t filled a tax return for 2015 (2 percent). Among those who submitted a tax return by themselves, 79 percent used the CRA website and 21 percent used the mail.Most studies of online technologies find that young people are more likely to use them. Tax filing is an exception. We did not find any linear relationship between age and the method of filing: between those aged 18 to 29 and those aged 70 and over, the same proportion (three out of four) submitted their tax returns online. There’s no gender gap either. However, a digital divide clearly appeared once we factored in education and income. Citizens with a university degree and higher income were more likely to submit online. The proportion of respondents who sent their tax returns online was 68 percent among those who had not studied beyond high school but 83 percent among holders of a university degree, a gap of 15 percentage points. The gap was even more pronounced (20 percentage points) between those whose household income was below $60,000 (67 percent) and those with income higher than $90,000 (87 percent).

 

How do Canadians assess their experience?

Our second goal was to investigate how citizens assess online filing. The program appears to be a success. We asked filers who used the CRA website to select from four statements the one that best described their experience. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said “the process was smooth and efficient” and they were “sure that [they] will process [their] federal tax return online in forthcoming years.” Eleven percent “experienced some problems, but it is still very likely that [they] will process [their] federal tax return online in forthcoming years.” Only 1 percent said that they were unlikely to use this online option again, because they “experienced some problems” or because “the process was complicated and a loss of [their] time.” Our survey did not ask more specific questions that might highlight parts of the experience that need improvement. The overall assessment of these Canadians is that they found the process efficient and they are ready to do it again.

 

E-government: Why not use it?

We also asked an open-ended question to those who submitted returns by mail: “Why didn’t you process your 2015 federal tax return through the Canada Revenue Agency website?” A qualitative overview of the responses allowed us to identify issues that seem to limit the adoption of this e-government service.First, many respondents indicated they simply preferred paper forms and the mail (“I like hard copy,” “I like working with paper,” “I like the paper and make a copy for myself…always keep proof of everything”), or found paper easier (“easier for me to mail,” “easier to fill out by hand”). Very few respondents explicitly declared a lack of digital skills, but the comments about preferring paper probably reflected such limitations. Indeed, we had previously interviewed some of our respondents in another wave of the survey and measured their digital skills through a six-item scale; not surprisingly, the relationship between digital skills and the likelihood of submitting online was statistically significant. Other technological concerns also prevented some citizens from submitting their tax returns online: not having Internet at home, issues with tax software or browsers and not remembering the password.

 

Second, many respondents expressed concern over the security of the process. Some didn’t trust the Internet in general (“I really don’t trust so much important information being used online,” “the Internet is too vulnerable”), while others had concerns related to software (“privacy protection, I don’t trust any software under third party”) or specific to the CRA website (“don’t trust the website”). One respondent wrote: “I still remember when their system crashed because too many people sent it on-line at the same time and the mailed ones were handled more promptly as a result. It feels much safer to me.”A third reason is simply a lack of motivation related to old habits or a desire to keep tradition. “Always submitted a paper form of return and I guess I’m stuck with my ways of doing things,” wrote one respondent. “I’ve been doing it by hand and sending it by mail since the past 30 years,” indicated another taxpayer. “I like filling out my form with paper and pencil. Tradition,” answered a third one.Finally, some respondents had specific grounds for their tax filing choices. “Because I have a paper trail of documents to put in,” wrote one person. “My return is complex & requires a paper return,” thought another one. A few others did not know it was possible to fill a tax return online, and one believed it costs money to file online.

 

An e-government success story

Overall, Canadians are satisfied with their experience submitting their taxes online. In the 2017 federal budget the government committed to expanding the range and quality of its digital services. The online tax filing system may serve as a model. However, it is important not to forget those who lack confidence either in their own digital skills or in the protection of the privacy of their personal information. A significant number of Canadians continue to have reservations about online filing; lowering this number will likely require investment to address privacy concerns and improve digital skills. Achieving a fully digital tax return system will take some time.(This online survey was conducted on our behalf by NRG Research Group between May 12 and June 9, 2016. The response rate was 40.6 percent. The data were weighted by the region, age and sex of the respondents. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded the research through an Insight Grant.)

From http://policyoptions.irpp.org/ 04/12/2017

 

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U.S.: Data and the Digital Transformation in Government

 

Information and data are the most valuable assets in an agency because they can help drive entire digital transformations. But managing and analyzing data can be extremely difficult due to the various layers and hybrid storage solutions used in government. Without the proper data management frameworks in place agency workforces will be unable to take advantage of insights gained from the information because they will lack the necessary data visibility, security, and analysis tools.To learn how agencies can leverage digital data management systems for digital transformations, Mark Krzysko, Deputy Director for Enterprise Information within the Department of Defense’s Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition, and Skip Farmer, a Field Engineering Manager at Veritas spoke during GovLoop’s recent Government Innovators virtual summit. Both experts have extensive experience using data management techniques to improve data visibility and decision-making in public sector organizations.

 

Krzysko began the conversation by explaining that digital transformation and data management are about more than just updating IT systems and technology. “To improve efficiency and effectiveness of data management, agencies must motivate two groups of employees; those that use the data and those that manage the data.” That means that frontline employees need to understand and utilize technical standards and protection protocols when collecting and securing data, but leadership and analysts need to understand how to interpret and manage the data so that it can provide the greatest amount of insight for decision makers.Although most leaders in government have started to understand the value of datasets, Krzysko added that they still must realistically understand what the data can do for the organization. Those that manage the data on a daily basis must constantly educate other staff members on how to properly analyze the information and relate it back to the mission of the agency.

 

Farmer agreed with Krzysko on the importance of using data to empower and transform your agency’s mission critical decisions. He also added that a main challenge for agency’s trying to manage data is that it is often stored in an inefficient and costly manner. “In order to extract value from the data agencies need visibility, controlled access, and proper analysis of data.”Agencies should increase visibility, security compliance, and control over their data by adopting enterprise data management solutions. Enterprise data management systems allow agencies to better understand what data they have and how to store and protect it in real time. Farmer compared the idea of making decisions without an enterprise understanding of the information assets being stored to agencies essentially making decisions in a dark room.

 

Enterprise data management can also be helpful to because it illuminates data assets there were previously overlooked by agency employees. “There is data we know exists and we can map to the mission, but there is also data we don’t think about. It may be redundant or unprotected data so we need visibility to look for data that may obstruct day-to-day operations.”  Both experts agreed that data management is crucial to digital transformation, but the complexity of data storage systems has made analysis difficult. In order to fully leverage mission critical data, agencies must employ an enterprise perspective to efficiently viewing and securing data. By implementing a unified approach to data management, agencies can digitally transform to make better organizational decisions and advance their missions.

From https://www.govloop.com/ 05/10/2017

 

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AFRICA: Togo - Strengthening Governance, Basic Services and Private Sector Opportunities in New Strategy

 

The Board of the World Bank Group today discussed a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Togo covering the period from July 2016 to June 2020. The CPF presents the World Bank Group’s proposed strategy over the four-year period, including interventions to help the country pave the way to more inclusive and sustainable growth led by a more dynamic private sector and more effective government policies, public investments and services. This is the first medium-term strategy of the institution for Togo since resuming IDA* financing in the country in 2008.“We are pleased the Board has endorsed the new framework for our cooperation with Togo which, since 2008, has been working hard to catch up and emerge from a 15-year period of donor disengagement,” says Pierre Laporte, the World Bank Country Director for Togo. Vera Songwe, IFC Regional Director for West and Central Africa, added that: “Preparing a joint strategy allows Togo to benefit from the full range of the World Bank Group’s products and services, and ensures complementarity of our interventions in both the public and private sectors”.

 

A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for Togo prepared by the World Bank Group in 2016 concluded that weak governance impedes a more robust, inclusive and sustainable growth and has contributed to a stagnant per capita GDP. Poverty rates remain high at 55 percent, despite having come down from 61 percent in 2011. Governance reforms aimed at engendering a more inclusive growth process led by private economic activity are needed to build an economy that is more productive, creates more jobs and leads to a virtuous cycle of rising incomes, expanded fiscal resources, and an increased ability to pay for public services to improve the well-being for a growing population. Strengthening public accountability to citizens and building stronger independent institutions at all levels are among the key governance reforms needed to ensure a more open and equitable distribution of resources.  Other key challenges include weak health services which disproportionately affect the poor as well as significant risks related to macro-fiscal policies and environmental degradation linked to climate change.

 

The World Bank Group’s new strategy emphasizes governance as a foundational, cross-cutting theme, with strengthening institutions and accountability as objectives integrated in three main focus areas: (i) private sector performance and job creation; (ii) inclusive public service delivery; and (iii) environmental sustainability and resilience.Under the first focus area aimed at promoting the performance of the private sector and job creation, the Bank will assist the authorities to strengthen fiscal policy and debt management, including through a new series of development policy operations (budget supports) supporting reforms in tax policy and administration, public investment management, and in the governance of the energy and telecommunications sectors. In addition, technical assistance and investment financing will support fiscal and regulatory reforms and investments aimed at growing the formal private sector and increasing agricultural productivity, access to markets and stronger value chains, and will help improve the quality of economic infrastructure services (energy, telecoms and logistics) and promote skills-building and employment opportunities.

 

The International Finance Company (IFC), the part of the World Bank Group that promotes private sector development, will particularly support this focus area, as it seeks to enhance its investment and advisory work to support trade and public-private partnerships (PPPs) and promote private investments in infrastructure, agribusiness, manufacturing, services, the financial sector and small and medium enterprises development. IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) –also a member of the World Bank Group promoting foreign direct investments into developing countries – will pursue opportunities to use the IDA Private Sector Window facilities to de-risk investment opportunities and attract private partners in key economic sectors, including agriculture, energy, telecommunications and transport.

 

The second focus area, promoting inclusive public service delivery, includes interventions to strengthen health systems, local and municipal basic infrastructure services, and social safety nets for the most vulnerable. “These operations emphasize empowering local governments and communities by building their capacity to plan, prioritize and implement basic services,” according to Joelle Businger, World Bank Country Manager for Togo and Task Team Leader for the CPF. She adds that: “This will have a direct impact on people’s lives, by giving them the tools and resources to improve their cities and communities.”Through the third focus area, the World Bank Group will help Togo strengthen the management of its productive natural resources, strengthen environmental resilience and reinforce its adaptation to climate change. Interventions will focus on helping urban and rural communities adapt to climate variability, change farming practices and improve the preparedness for natural disasters and other man-made risks, and policies and infrastructure to mitigate the impact of coastal erosion.

 

Togo will benefit from the new IDA18* replenishment which provides increased support for fragile states to scale up concessional financing and promote joint IDA, IFC and MIGA solutions. The increased poverty orientation of the performance-based allocation under IDA18 has also resulted in a doubling of IDA resources for Togo, with up to US$230 million available during 2018-2020. Combined with the US$113 million in IDA financing approved in 2017 and resources from the regional IDA envelope, the total IDA grant and credit financing is estimated at over $350 million during the CPF period. Trust fund grant resources would also be mobilized to provide additional support.The new CPF will support the implementation of projects and programs currently underway and proposes eight (8) new operations in the areas of energy, competitiveness and skills development, urban infrastructure, logistics services, health, public services, coastal management and integrated disaster and land management. Besides the investments operations, a number of analytical studies and advisory services are planned, including among others on: (i) public private partnerships; (ii) tax framework; (iii) debt management strategy; (iv) land policy assessment; (v) sources of growth and competitiveness; gender assessment; decentralized service delivery; and (vi) blue economy strategic framework.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 05/16/2017

 

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EUROPE: Migration Crisis - 73% of Europeans Wants EU to Do More

 

Most Europeans want the EU to do more to tackle migration ?AP Images/ European Union-EP

Migration has been an EU priority for years. Since 2015 the EU has taken several measures to manage the migration crisis as well as to improve the asylum system. According to the latest Eurobarometer poll, 73% of Europeans still want the EU to do more to manage the situation. However, 58% of respondents think the EU’s actions regarding migration are inadequate, eight percentage points less than last year. Read on to discover what measures the European Parliament is working on.

 

What Parliament is working on

Last December the civil liberties committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, responsible for ensuring a sustainable and fair distribution of asylum applicants. The agency would help EU countries during crisis situations and monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation. Currently Parliament representatives are negotiating on the plans with the Council and the European Commission.In March a draft report on the reform of the Dublin system was presented to the civil liberties committee. The aim is to address the weaknesses of the current asylum system and to determine which EU country is responsible for processing an asylum application. After all the amendments have been submitted, the committee will vote on the report and it will then be up to all MEPs to vote on it during a plenary session.The committee also supported in April a report aiming to set EU-wide standards for the reception conditions of asylum seekers and to improve their integration prospects and self-sufficiency. MEPs will now vote on it during a plenary session before starting negotiations with the Council and the Commission.

Fromhttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/ 05/11/2017

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EC to Review .EU Top-Level Domain Name Rules

 

The European Commission has announced the launch of a public consultation on the .eu top-level domain rules. In a statement, the EC Commission said it wants to ascertain whether the existing regulations on .eu are still fit for purpose, or if they need to be changed or updated. The Commission said the market of domain names has become much more dynamic and competitive since the entry into force of the .eu regulations, prompting a consultation running from 12 May until 08 August. Business representatives, those working in the public sector, academia and all those with an interest are invited to provide input and help determine the future of the .eu domain name.Registrations for the .eu top-level domain started on 07 April 2006, providing a unique European domain for organisations and individuals resident in EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. At the end of March 2017, the .eu TLD was the 7th largest country code in the world with over 3.7 million registrations.

From https://www.telecompaper.com/ 05/15/2017

 

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A New Tax Law Is Making Sweden Very Attractive to the World's Biggest Tech Companies

 

Sweden’s cool climate and forest-covered interior have allowed the country to build its economy on primary industries, like pulp and paper production and metalworks, for decades. Now, those same factors are helping it cater to a new kind of industry that could become just as vital to its economy in the years to come: the perfect real estate for data centers.In January, a new law slashing the tax rate on electricity used by data centers by 97 percent went into effect, removing a major barrier to Sweden’s burgeoning data-center economy. The energy consumed by data centers is now taxed as lightly as the electricity used by Sweden’s steelworks, car plants and other heavy industries, putting it in line with regional competitors like Norway.Data centers already contributed 6.2 billion krona ($687 million) and 3,600 jobs to the Swedish economy in 2015, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group. The energy tax reforms mean data centers are expected to add 25 billion krona and 14,000 jobs by 2025, according to the report.

 

“This is acknowledging that the world has changed,” says Tomas Sokolnicki, a senior investment adviser at Data Centers by Sweden, a quasi-government trade body. “We have a digital industry, so it should be handled and treated like other base industries in Sweden.”The tax reform could save tech companies millions, reducing electricity bills by around 40 percent, according to a Swedish finance ministry study. Facebook, which opened a state-of-the-art facility in Lule? in northern Sweden in 2013, will certainly benefit. So will new entrants like Amazon Web Services, which dominates the cloud computing industry. Two weeks ago, Amazon announced plans to develop three data centers near Stockholm, although it declined to say how much investment is involved.

 

It’s not just that electricity is cheaper in Sweden; it’s also cleaner, which helps some of the world’s tech giants achieve their much-publicized goals of using only renewable energy. Over 65 percent of Sweden’s electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and hydroelectric energy, according to statistics from the European Union. Its three nuclear plants also produce energy with low carbon emissions.Amazon says renewable energy, as well as speedy internet connections, makes the area around Stockholm the “natural choice” for data centers serving customers in the Nordics. Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created by the projects, Sokolnicki says. The townships the Seattle tech giant has selected for investment, Eskilstuna, Katrineholm and V?ster?s, are celebrating.“For a municipality, this is a big investment,” says Sokolnicki, recalling the night the contracts were signed. “There was quite a lot of emotion in there.”

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 04/14/2017

 

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - How We Can Start Harmonizing US-Canada Regulations

 

With Trump eager for some political wins, Canada should seize the moment and accelerate efforts to harmonize regulations between the two nations.We’ve all been reading the negative and troubling headlines about a potential trade war between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber and dairy. But despite all the rhetoric, there are countless bright spots in the bilateral relationship that can and should be capitalized upon now — to the benefit of both countries.One of the biggest areas of goodwill and co-operation will be staring us right in the face at the moment we start to ponder renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order entitled the Enforcing Regulatory Reform Agenda. It didn’t get a lot of media attention, but it presents a golden opportunity for Canada. The measure is aimed at streamlining federal regulations, and it directs US agencies to create task forces to identify regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated or are too costly.

 

It also provides a perfect opening to accelerate and enhance a long-standing bilateral project known as the Canada/US Regulatory Cooperation Council, which is also working to streamline regulations on both sides of the border.Bilateral regulatory co-operation may not be as enthralling as Russian spies or border walls, but it’s critical to US and Canadian businesses and their integrated supply chains. It also has an impact on Canadian and American consumers, as businesses are often forced to pass on to them the substantial costs associated with regulatory disharmony and red tape.President Trump is eager for some wins. Canada can help provide him with one, while also advancing its own interests. The Canadian government could present the United States with a proposal for aligning a particular set of regulations. This would represent a bilateral victory for what is at the moment a US-only effort to cut regulatory red tape.

 

There are several sectors where regulatory disharmony causes problems.In agri-business, energy products, medical devices, and medicine and consumer products, in particular, there is an array of conflicting regulations that make it difficult to do business, on both sides of the 49th parallel. In some cases, these regulations even prevent consumers from buying the goods they want or obtaining the medications they need if they suffer from certain illnesses or conditions.For example, some cosmetic products are available in the US but not in Canada. Some medications that are sold over the counter in the United States are still sold by prescription only in Canada, and vice versa, which causes headaches for companies trying to market their products in both countries.Recall mechanisms for medical devices differ in the two countries, as do regulations on a drug that helps people with Parkinsonism Syndrome ?—? and there are many more examples.

 

In agri-business, meat producers in both countries deal with an antiquated headache involving the requirement that a veterinarian’s certificate be manually placed on a certain outward facing spot on every case of exported or imported meat, even though the information is more easily available using other methods. This is a costly and dubious regulation that prevents producers from fully embracing automation and high-tech shipping methods? — and there are plenty of other redundant and expensive regulations.Why shouldn’t we leverage President Trump’s interest in cutting red tape and harmonizing regulations for the benefit of the bilateral economy? This doesn’t have to wait for a NAFTA renegotiation or World Trade Organization ruling; it’s is ready to go right now.Canadian and American officials have been working together on this since 2011, and as Gary Doer, former Canadian ambassador to the US, would say: “It’s time to put the puck in the net.”In this period of uncertainty about President Trump’s NAFTA intentions, now is the time to work even harder on the Canada-US relationship,??and to start focusing on the issues that aren’t contentious. Regulatory harmony should be a critical part of that strategy, and success there could well ease tensions elsewhere.

From http://policyoptions.irpp.org/ 05/04/2017

 

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U.S.: North Carolina House Passes 'Bright Futures' Bill to Spread Fast Internet

 

The bill could help bring high-speed Internet to 3 million people in 85 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.(TNS) -- RALEIGH — The state House on Thursday approved the “Bright Futures Act,” a bill designed to expand high-speed internet service to rural communities and other underserved areas.The legislation now moves to the Senate.The bill will help those communities grow their economies and draw jobs, state Rep. John Szoka of Cumberland County said during debate on the House floor. He is the lead sponsor of the bill.“Rural and underserved areas have historically been left behind when key technology and infrastructure have been required for economic development,” Szoka said in a news release from the office of House Speaker Tim Moore.The news release says the bill could help bring high-speed internet to 3 million people in 85 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

 

The legislation would allow cities and counties with fiber optic cables or other internet-capable infrastructure installed for municipal needs to lease the excess capacity to private internet service providers to offer internet to residents and businesses.Further, public-private partnerships could be created to install infrastructure to spread the service, Szoka said.The legislation is designed to be flexible on how the infrastructure is installed — it could be a traditional wired connection, a high-speed wireless connection, or whatever other technology is developed to do the job, Szoka has said in interviews about the legislation.The state has previously passed laws to prevent city and county governments from providing internet service to their communities. The policy was premised on the theory that the government would be competing against private companies.At the same time, private high-speed internet providers have skipped much of the state because there is insufficient profit potential in low-population areas to cover the costs.This legislation does not permit local governments to independently provide internet service to their residents.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 04/21/2017

 

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As Big Deadline Hits, Lawmakers Warn on Long-term Risks to Data Act

 

As agencies are wrapping up submissions for the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act’s first deadline, transparency advocates and lawmakers are framing the milestone date more as a starting point.Thanks to the open government law passed in 2014, May 9 represents the first submission deadline for agencies to report their annual federal spending in a standardized, machine-readable way to the USASpending.gov website.While the Government Accountability Office reported in April that five agencies -- the Departments of Defense, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior and Veterans Affairs, along with the Environmental Protection Agency -- would not “fully meet” the requirements in advance of the May 9 deadline, all 24 CFO Act agencies managed to submit something.According to those closest to the Data Act, incomplete reporting the first go-round was expected and is not a cause for concern.

 

In an email to FCW, Data Coalition Executive Director Hudson Hollister deemed the effort to date to be a successful completion of “the first phase of a very challenging project.”That early success, however, does not mean oversight -- from Congress, the oversight bodies, as well as the White House -- is going anywhere. In letters to the heads of the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, six members of the House Oversight Committee -- Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) -- raised concerns about potential risks facing agencies’ successful implementation and about several unfulfilled GAO recommendations.“While there is strong reason to be optimistic that the Data Act can and will achieve its goals, there are ongoing implementation challenges that threaten its success,” the legislators wrote, citing “widespread and longstanding financial management issues” across government as significant long-term risks.

 

According to the lawmakers' letters, 11 of the 16 large agencies, in readiness reviews conducted by their respective inspectors general, were found to have “had technology issues, including challenges with developing and submitting required files, integrating multiple existing and disparate financial and management systems, or needing to install new systems or modify existing systems to implement the Data Act” as of Jan. 31.They added that these challenges, as well as other issues, “have already had an effect on agency readiness.”The lawmakers called on Treasury and OMB to address five outstanding GAO recommendations -- one from January 2016, three from July 2016 and another from April 2017.The recommendations call for OMB and Treasury to provide agencies with additional guidance to handle data-quality issues, to establish a set of policies that follow best practices for developing and maintaining data standards and to create a federal program inventory of Data Act purposes and requirements.

 

The recommendations also direct OMB and Treasury to develop processes to determine the complete population of agencies required to report spending data and to measure agencies’ compliance with oversight reviews and Data Act requirements.The lawmakers requested an update from OMB and Treasury by May 22 that details progress in implementing GAO’s recommendations.Hollister commended the continued oversight of the Data Act’s implementation, adding, “there is still work that needs to be done.”“It is crucial that the technical kinks are ironed out to ensure that the law is fully implemented, and the benefits can be fully realized,” he said.In addition to the members of Congress, the Data Act also has champions in the White House -- namely OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Matt Lira, the special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives and member of the new Office of American Innovation.

From https://fcw.com/articles/ 05/08/2017

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As Big Deadline Hits, Lawmakers Warn on Long-term Risks to Data Act

 

As agencies are wrapping up submissions for the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act’s first deadline, transparency advocates and lawmakers are framing the milestone date more as a starting point.Thanks to the open government law passed in 2014, May 9 represents the first submission deadline for agencies to report their annual federal spending in a standardized, machine-readable way to the USASpending.gov website.While the Government Accountability Office reported in April that five agencies -- the Departments of Defense, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior and Veterans Affairs, along with the Environmental Protection Agency -- would not “fully meet” the requirements in advance of the May 9 deadline, all 24 CFO Act agencies managed to submit something.According to those closest to the Data Act, incomplete reporting the first go-round was expected and is not a cause for concern.

 

In an email to FCW, Data Coalition Executive Director Hudson Hollister deemed the effort to date to be a successful completion of “the first phase of a very challenging project.”That early success, however, does not mean oversight -- from Congress, the oversight bodies, as well as the White House -- is going anywhere. In letters to the heads of the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, six members of the House Oversight Committee -- Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) -- raised concerns about potential risks facing agencies’ successful implementation and about several unfulfilled GAO recommendations.“While there is strong reason to be optimistic that the Data Act can and will achieve its goals, there are ongoing implementation challenges that threaten its success,” the legislators wrote, citing “widespread and longstanding financial management issues” across government as significant long-term risks.

 

According to the lawmakers' letters, 11 of the 16 large agencies, in readiness reviews conducted by their respective inspectors general, were found to have “had technology issues, including challenges with developing and submitting required files, integrating multiple existing and disparate financial and management systems, or needing to install new systems or modify existing systems to implement the Data Act” as of Jan. 31.They added that these challenges, as well as other issues, “have already had an effect on agency readiness.”The lawmakers called on Treasury and OMB to address five outstanding GAO recommendations -- one from January 2016, three from July 2016 and another from April 2017.The recommendations call for OMB and Treasury to provide agencies with additional guidance to handle data-quality issues, to establish a set of policies that follow best practices for developing and maintaining data standards and to create a federal program inventory of Data Act purposes and requirements.

 

The recommendations also direct OMB and Treasury to develop processes to determine the complete population of agencies required to report spending data and to measure agencies’ compliance with oversight reviews and Data Act requirements.The lawmakers requested an update from OMB and Treasury by May 22 that details progress in implementing GAO’s recommendations.Hollister commended the continued oversight of the Data Act’s implementation, adding, “there is still work that needs to be done.”“It is crucial that the technical kinks are ironed out to ensure that the law is fully implemented, and the benefits can be fully realized,” he said.In addition to the members of Congress, the Data Act also has champions in the White House -- namely OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Matt Lira, the special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives and member of the new Office of American Innovation.

From https://fcw.com/articles/ 05/08/2017

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CHINA: Beijing to Strengthen Regulation of Online Catering

 

Beijing pledges to strengthen regulation of online catering platforms to ensure food safety, the municipal food and drug administration said. Supervision over the platforms will include checking business licenses and health certificates and, more importantly, the quality of ingredients and health conditions of cooks of the restaurants on the platforms, the administration announced on Wednesday, World Consumer Rights Day, also known as "3.15" in China. Thirty-four restaurants have recently been ordered to withdraw from waimai.meituan.com, one of the most popular such platforms in China, for selling cold dishes without a license, said Li Jiang, head of the food market regulation office of the administration. The administration will launch spot checks on food safety of the restaurants and order them to post pictures of their kitchens and cooking process on the platforms, according to Li.

 

A restaurant rating system will be introduced on the platforms, so that customers can choose higher rated ones, Li added. According to statistics, Beijing has five online food ordering and delivery services, including waimai.meituan and waimai.baidu, with altogether 67,000 restaurants on them. China has adopted strict food safety regulations in recent years, but the proliferation of kitchens and restaurants riding the e-commerce boom has made supervision more difficult. The food safety watchdog in Ningbo City in east China's Zhejiang Province said it will introduce a supervision system for the online catering sector using big data techniques that can collect information on more than 10,000 restaurants in an hour.                        

From http://www.news.cn/ 03/15/2017

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China Sets Ambitious Goal in Cloud Computing

 

China is aiming to increase the scale of its cloud computing industry by more than 2.5 times by 2019, from 2015 levels, according to a new government plan. The scale of the cloud computing industry will be expanded to 430 billion yuan (about 62.29 billion U.S. dollars) by 2019, up from 150 billion yuan in 2015, according to an action plan for 2017-2019 issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Other targets include making breakthroughs in core technologies, increasing cloud computing in manufacturing and government affairs, and strengthening the global influence of Chinese cloud computing companies. The ministry expects that two to three Chinese cloud computing companies will lead the global market within three years. Cloud computing should be a strong support for China's manufacturing and Internet industries and help make other social and economic sectors informationized, the ministry said.

 

The ministry pledged to enhance cloud computing network security and improve security regulation and relevant laws, as many users from key industries are still hesitating due to safety concerns, reliability and movability. In the next three years, the government will help boost cloud computing technologies and encourage local governments to work with leading cloud computing companies to build public service platforms. Support will go to cloud computing-related innovation and entrepreneurship to provide services for small and medium-sized enterprises, the ministry said. The plan promised better financial services and personnel training, as well as efforts in the branding of current enterprises and products. Leading cloud computing enterprises should also seek overseas expansion and boost international cooperation in alignment with the Belt and Road Initiative, it said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 04/11/2017

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Vice President Calls for Building of Mass Organizations Online

 

Vice President Li Yuanchao has called for efforts to build mass organizations online presence to sustain closer ties with the people. During a tour of Ningbo in east China's Zhejiang Province from Wednesday to Thursday, Li said organizations should use the Internet to better communicate with, serve, guide and mobilize the public. Grassroots Communist Party of China (CPC) committees should take a leading role in reform involving mass organizations, and help grassroots mass organizations to solve their problems including a lack of personnel, funds or office venue, Li said. Mass organizations represent people from different lines of work or age groups, such as trade unions, women's groups and youth leagues.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 04/14/2017

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China Issues Regulation on Online News Service

 

Cooperation between Chinese online news service providers and entities with foreign investment should go through a security review, according to a regulation released on May 2. The regulation, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), requires the online news service providers to abide by the law, promote healthy Internet culture and safeguard national and public interest. The CAC will become the new regulator of online news service, replacing the State Council Information Office. The service providers should put in place a set of information security protocols and measures, such as reviews, checks and emergency responses regarding online news, the CAC said. There should be an editor-in-chief for all online news service providers and their staff should be qualified, according to the regulation.

 

It said that platform operators should protect the privacy of users. The regulation particularly notes the obligations of online news platform operators, whose services would only be available to users who register with their real identities. Online news platform operators that violate the regulation will be punished. In the meantime, another regulation on administrative law-enforcing procedures was also issued by CAC Tuesday, aiming to standardize and safeguard the obligations of online news management departments, so as to properly implement administrative penalties and protect the legal rights of citizens, legal persons and other organizations. The two regulations will go into force on June 1.                     

From http://www.chinagate.cn/ 05/03/2017

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JAPAN: Government Looks to India to Fill Nation’s IT Shortfall

 

The government plans to strengthen support for foreigners seeking jobs in Japanese companies, according to sources. Envisaged measures include working with the private sector to secure human resources from India, where capable information technology personnel are plentiful, to compete with major U.S. IT companies and other entities vying for such personnel.  According to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, Japan has a shortage of about 130,000 IT security personnel and about 15,000 advanced IT experts. The government has therefore found it necessary to increase support for foreign workers. India has attracted worldwide attention as a valuable source of human resources in the IT field, with the Indian Institutes of Technology producing top-quality workers. Major U.S. IT companies, including Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., are currently working to secure human resources from India. The measures target people with certain skills in IT and other fields, with the government and companies coordinating to help such people find jobs. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to provide Indian universities and other entities with information on job opportunities at Japanese companies and hold job seminars in India to support people seeking employment in Japan. The government has also started providing job assistance to foreign people who have moved to Japan as well as foreign students who want to work in Japan. In March, the labor ministry began offering counseling services in foreign languages at HelloWork offices across the nation. Counseling services are available in a number of languages in addition to English, including Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian

From http://the-japan-news.com 05/03/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: Slow to Embrace New Web Tech

 

South Korea remains behind in embracing the new web framework HTML5, despite its rapid adoption overseas, the Korea Internet Security Agency said. HTML5 is the latest standard of web programming language developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. By analyzing browsers used by internet users on whether these properly support services made from HTML5, the level of preparedness reached 54.1 percent. KISA said the older versions of Internet Explorer widely used by Koreans tend not to follow HTML5 standards. Among desktop users, 96.99 percent used Microsoft Windows for their operating system, while 85.86 percent used Internet Explorer for their browser.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 04/12/2017

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We Plan to Develop New Industries, Services for the Future

 

"Using autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things (IoT) as our engines of economic growth, we plan to develop new industries and services for the future," said Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn during the 2017 Science Day ceremony at Seoul's Dongdaemun Design Plaza on April 21. "Projects that focus on state-of-the-art technology, including AI, are currently in the works. By developing innovative R&D systems, we will create a research environment that gives rise to scientists who have the capability to pursue challenging and creative projects," said the acting president. "The waves of the fourth industrial revolution are rising higher and higher, day by day. Last year, the Korean government adopted a comprehensive plan outlining some medium- to long-term measures to respond effectively in this age of advanced AI," he said. "The new industry investment committee, launched last year, is helping to lead a number of reforms related to regulations governing new industries. We have also begun addressing issues linked to the fourth industrial revolution, such as unemployment and industrial polarization, in preparation for the dawn of a new era," he said.

From http://www.korea.net 04/24/2017

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Korea Launches Alliance to Nurture "Smart Home" Industry

 

South Korea launched an alliance of leading information and communication technology and construction firms on Wednesday to nurture the "smart home" industry that connects artificial intelligence and Internet of Things to home appliances. "We can make the world's leading smart home industry with the combination of our home electronics industry, information technology, infrastructure and semiconductors," Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said at a event to mark the launch at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute in Seongnam, south of Seoul. He said South Korea can emerge as a global leader in the smart home business area. The alliance is supposed to exchange related technologies for the building of smart homes, develop big data-based smart services, standardize regulations and launch marketing activities for the expansion of this business field. Among the participants are Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., SK Telecom, KT, the Korea Land and Housing Corp., the Seoul Housing & Communities Corp., S1 Corp., MDS Technology and Samyoung S&C.

Samsung Electronics Co. said it will equip Samsung home appliances with intelligent assistant "Bixby" and "Samsung Connect," which can control appliances both at home and out of the house. The Bixby smart voice assistant helps users complete tasks by telling them what they are looking at, learning their routine and remembering what they need to do. KT Corp., South Korea's biggest Internet service provider, has been providing its AI home assistant platform GiGA Genie to apartment complexes being built across the country. GiGA Genie is an advanced voice recognition butler service allowing users to control home appliances and listen to music using voice commands processed by the world's first IPTV service with an AI function. KT said unlike other voice assistance services, the set-top box arrangement allows users to give commands through the TV screen. SK Telecom, South Korea's top mobile carrier, also provides a similar AI home assistant service called "NUGU."

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 04/26/2017

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Presidential Candidates Vow Support for ‘Digital Economy’

 

South Korea’s presidential candidates may differ in their campaign pledges on defense, labor and political reform, but they appear to have one common ground -- spurring growth through the “digital economy.” The digital economy, sometimes referred to as the “internet economy,” broadly refers to the economic activity that results from billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices, data and processes, according to Deloitte. This new type of economy is backed by the growing connections between people, organizations and machines via the internet and new mobile technologies, it said. In a survey conducted by Korea’s Digital Economy Association, which consists of the country’s biggest internet technology industry business groups, all candidates -- except Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party -- vowed to overhaul overregulation that hinders the growth of the IT-related sectors with differing governance plans. Hong did not provide a reply, the association said without elaborating.

 

Front-runner Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea vowed to reform Korea’s “outdated policies” that have weighed down domestic IT companies in competing against their bigger foreign rivals, which are not subject to such regulations. Moon also called for the introduction of a so-called “negative regulation” system for the IT industry. Korea’s current “positive regulation” system acts like a whitelist, laying out what it permits, and in theory banning anything not covered. A negative system acts like a blacklist, banning certain items. Using this approach new businesses or services are considered legal as long as they are not expressly banned. In addition, Moon vowed to set aside bigger funds for startups and new business creation without citing specific figures. He will also open source the government’s public data to create a big data platform that new businesses can access and work with.

Among other plans, Moon also called for Korea’s early deployment of the ultra-fast 5G network, support for augmented reality and virtual reality technologies and the eradication of inefficient digital certificates and Active-X plug-in programs currently required for digital payments in Korea. Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People's Party, Moon’s top rival and an IT expert who founded the nation’s leading anti-virus software company AhnLab, also proposed a negative regulation system and bolstered support for the progressive IT sector. The former entrepreneur promised greater financial support for new-growth industries such as artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing as well as virtual reality and augmented reality. Like Moon, Ahn also vowed to eradicate and replace security programs like Active-X security plug-ins that currently make online transactions difficult in Korea. On the financial technology front, Ahn criticized the current government for having applied the same regulations governing traditional banks to Korea’s recently-launched internet banks, citing the need to reform policies to fit the new type of banks.

Meanwhile, Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party, laid out a plan for the creation of a new control tower that will oversee the country’s now-dispersed policies related to new technologies to improve regulatory efficiency. Also a proponent of the negative regulation system, Yoo said he would push for new science and technology research and development spearheaded by industry players themselves with minimized government interference. The veteran economist who has worked at the Korea Development Institute, the nation’s top economic think tank, also vowed to ease unnecessary regulations on personal information protection to help foster big data accumulation led by the private sector and new policies befitting the nature of internet banks, like Ahn. On the other hand, Sim Sang-jeung of the minor progressive Justice Party stressed the need to deploy safety nets to offset the impact of the digital economic age, in addition to the impact of technological advancements.

Sim said the government must ensure that the digital economy brings benefits to citizens in terms of labor, education and welfare, in addition to enacting policies to revitalize the fast-moving new technology sector. She called for policies to ensure that startups can get back on their feet and continue to innovate even after failure, while stressing the need for creative education and retraining programs for current workers. The progressive candidate plans to form a new digital economy policymaking body directly under the president, which will invite industry officials, civic groups, academic circles and labor groups to partake in the decision-making process. The conservative party’s Hong said he plans to form a 20 trillion won ($17.5 billion) investment fund over the next five years to nurture startups and build up Korea’s own big data system that benchmarks Singapore’s initiatives, during his campaign trail.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 05/01/2017

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SINGAPORE: New Standards to Address Digital Design, Infrastructure for Seniors

 

SINGAPORE: A new standards framework launched on Thursday (Mar 23) will provide designers of digital devices and online services guidance on designing senior-friendly user interfaces. The Singapore Standard 618 includes points such as reducing information clutter on the website interface as well as automatically resizing pages when changing to different device sizes and types. A working group under SPRING Singapore's standardisation programme, which developed the framework, will be focusing on the development of guidelines specific to the user interface design for mobile platforms moving forward, SPRING said. The framework was one of two initiatives launched by SPRING and the Singapore Standards Council on Thursday to support active ageing in Singapore. The other was the Silver Industry Standards Roadmap, which seeks to address the challenges of an ageing population by ensuring that infrastructure and services meet quality and safety requirements. Developed by SPRING and the Silver Industry Standards Committee, the roadmap charts the direction of standards development and implementation over the next three to five years to support the needs of the elderly at the individual, community and national levels. It will look into areas such as enhancing accessibility through suitable infrastructural design within the community and home as well as enabling the pervasive use of digital solutions among the elderly, the agencies said.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/23/2017

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Singapore to Focus on Regional Digital Economy, Trade When It Takes over ASEAN Chairmanship

 

SINGAPORE: Ahead of it taking over the chairmanship of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, Singapore has said it plans to focus on developing the regional digital economy and improving trade facilitation. Speaking at the ASEAN Conference 2017, Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang said there is interest among member states in developing their e-commerce capabilities to tap on emerging opportunities. “Going forward, we will look into streamlining regional trade rules governing e-commerce that will promote greater digital connectivity in the region and lower operating barriers to entry. We will also ensure that these are incorporated into our current regime and new trade agreements,” he said. On trade facilitation, Mr Lim said Singapore intends to work closely with other member states to implement the self-certification regime and the ASEAN Single Window. The self-certification scheme will allow authorised exporters self-certify that their goods meet ASEAN’s requirements for preferential treatment, while the ASEAN Single Window helps to expedite customs clearance via the electronic exchange of information across borders. Mr Lim said this will facilitate seamless movement of goods within ASEAN, allowing businesses to enjoy lower administrative and time-to-market costs. He called for feedback from the private sector to ensure that Singapore’s priorities remain relevant to businesses.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/04/2017

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THAILAND: Foreign Ministry Offers Reassurance on E-Passports as Article 44 Order Considered

 

The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday stated that the ministry would continue to issue e-passports for Thai citizens although the contract with an outsourcing firm will end shortly.  “We affirmed that the issuance of e-passports will proceed as usual without a time limit,” said a statement issued by the ministry. Two years ago, the ministry signed a contract with an outsourcing company to issue passports, stipulating that the company would produce 7 million passports, after which the contract would end. At present, 6.97 million have been issued, leaving only 30,000 more to be issued. On a typical day, 10,000 requests are received for the issuance or re-issuance of passports, which would have left only three more days. The ministry had said the process to find a new firm through an e-bidding process could take a year to complete. However, to solve the immediate problem, the ministry on Tuesday proposed that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) invoke Article 44 of the interim charter to allow the ministry to extend the contract with the current company for one year. In the meantime, the e-bidding process to find a new outsourcing company will commence, Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Tuesday. The ministry could not renew or extend the contract through normal processes as the Office of the Attorney-General had deemed it illegal, the spokesman said. However, the NCPO rejected the proposal, saying Article 44 could be criticised for being used too often, Sansern said. The NCPO then ordered Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to meet with the Office of the Auditor-General and the Foreign Ministry to seek a solution, Sansern said.  Sansern added that if there was a dead end, the use of Article 44 could be considered. The NCPO agreed in principle to allow the current firm to continue to issue e-passports, he said.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 03/01/2017

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Govt Announces Five-Year Digital Integration Strategy

 

The government has announced a programme aimed at integrating digital services through a “citizen-centric strategy” within five years. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government remained firm on relying on advanced digital technology to drive economic and social progress for Thailand. The development of digital competency will be required by all sectors, including agriculture, tourism, education, the medical profession, investment, disaster prevention, and public administration. To cope efficiently with the changing world, it is highly important to apply the use of digital technology in a well-prepared manner to ensure further development of quality public services leading to the achievement of public administration in a new dimension. “Within the next five years, the government will be transformed into a ‘digital government’ backed by the integration of operations and management among various government agencies. Smart technology and services will be fostered by a citizen-centric strategy aiming to accelerate Thailand in all aspects, both substantially and practically,” he said.

 

The programme will be implemented based on the integration of an information network developed cooperatively by various government agencies, with a clear focus on four key development models: government integration, smart operations, citizen-centric services, and driven transformation. Pichet Durongkaveroj, minister of digital economy and society, said the Electronic Government Agency (EGA) had developed the Digital Government Development Plan to determine key strategies and policies in managing the government’s centralised information database. All government agencies have been encouraged to focus on similar strategic visions under the same standards. Hence the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, in collaboration with the EGA, has announced the three-year Digital Government Development Plan (2016-2018), approved by the Cabinet on April 5 last year. The development plan has progressed to cover 18 major domains of the total of 26 domains. Subsequently, as the EGA has reviewed the plan, it is essential to add another eight domains, consisting of education, public health, public utilities, transport, procurement, asset management, human-resource management, and salary payment. In the meantime, two new domains, digital-government infrastructure and government personnel qualification, have been added. The development plan has been advanced to the five-year Digital Government Development Plan (2017-2021).

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 03/08/2017

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Plan Unveiled to Create 500,000 Digital Startups

 

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, president of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency, has revealed a plan to create 500,000 digital startups in the country to support the government’s Thailand 4.0 economic policy and drive sustainable growth. The agency also aims to utilise digital technology to support and develop 24,700 communities in the country’s 77 provinces, about three million small and medium-sized enterprises and about five million households to improve quality of life and support Thailand 4.0 in the digital ear over the next 20 years. Nuttapon said the agency will also promote and support the digital industry and utilise digital technology to support cultural and societal development along with boosting security and the economy in the digital era. Under the initiative, laws will be revised to support social and community growth in the digital era, he added.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 03/16/2017

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State Big Data System En Route

 

The government plans to set up Thailand's first big data state management system to help the state contend with fast-growing pools of data saved in a variety of formats. The system is also aimed at ensuring a high level of data accessibility and governing large volumes of both structured and unstructured data, said Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj. "The system will enable state authorities to provide greater public e-services and improve the quality of services," he said yesterday at the TrueBusiness forum entitled Smart Thailand 4.0. Mr Pichet disclosed that he has been assigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to draft a clear roadmap for the planned establishment of the big data management system within July. A working panel has already been set up, led by Mr Pichet's advisers and representatives from the Electronic Government Agency, to choose the systems to be implemented. Mr Pichet said building a system to manage big data is vital to help the government accommodate abundant digital information available to state agencies and deal with increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats.

 

He said big data management systems will provide categories for data classification and instructions for state agencies to classify data into each category. State agencies have a combined 300 data centres with total usage space of 36,000 square metres. "The government wants to reduce the amount of state data centres to 200 sites over the next five years to eliminate inefficiency and redundancy while improving performance," Mr Pichet said. Speaking at the forum, Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak said the transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to an entrepreneur-based economy within 2022 will require the successful implementation of the state's digital economy policy. "Thailand's economic structure needs to change. More than 60% of gross domestic product stems from manufacturing for export. This cannot create sustainable growth for the country in the long term," he said. Mr Somkid said creativity and innovative digital platforms are the two most important factors for businesses to enhance their productivity and efficiency, and drive the country's competitiveness to the next level. Suphachai Chearavanont, executive chairman of True Corporation, said True has set up a fund worth 300 million baht to support the development of local startups. The company plans to raise another 700 million baht for the fund in 2018.

From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 05/18/2017

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VIETNAM: Cashless Economy Target Too High - Experts

 

The Prime Minister recently ratified a project to stimulate non-cash transactions in 2016-20 with a view to reducing the cash transactions rate to under 10 per cent. The project aims to accelerate e-commerce and implement the Master Scheme on E-commerce Development. All supermarkets and modern distribution centres will take part in e-commerce while 70 per cent of water, electricity, telecom payments will be in non-cash mode. Half of all individuals and households will switch to non-cash transactions. New, modern means of payments will be developed in rural and remote areas, financial inclusion will be targeted and at least 70 per cent of people aged over 15 will have bank accounts by 2020. These targets were outlined based on encouraging achievements in the last six years, which have gradually made non-cash payments a trend in Việt Nam. Cash payments as a ratio of total payments have declined from 14.02 per cent in 2010 to 12 per cent now. According to a State Bank of Việt Nam report released recently, there are currently around 67.4 million bank accounts compared to 16.8 million in 2010.

 

Modern infrastructure and technology to facilitate non-cash payments, especially online payments, have developed significantly. The number of bank cards has increased to around 111 million now. There are around 254,000 points of sales (POS) and 17,380 automatic teller machines (ATMs), up 13.77 per cent and 5.39 per cent since the end of 2015. The central bank has also rolled out policies related to modern infrastructure and technology to boost non-cash payments, protect customers’interest and ensure service quality. It has instructed banks to quickly convert all magnetic cards into chip cards to prevent fraud. It wants all ATM cards to become EMV-standard chip cards by 2020 to reduce the risks involved in e-commerce for both buyers and sellers. But analysts, while not denying the recent accomplishments, still have doubts about the cash-use target. They said cash was used in nearly 90 per cent of all transactions, and there were only three years left to reduce that to below 10 per cent.

 

The biggest hindrance to achieving the target is the people’s cash habit, with not only individuals but even businesses yet to get used to non-cash transactions. For instance, the facility to pay taxes online has been in place since 2014 and 95 per cent of all enterprises have registered for it, but many do not use it. Besides, this remains an alien concept to the millions of business households and private individuals. Although e-commerce has developed rapidly in Việt Nam, a majority of buyers still opt for cash on delivery (COD). According to the Department of E-commerce and Information Technology, many still prefer COD partly due to their habit and partly because they do not fully trust e-commerce websites. Only around 4.5 million people have applied for e-payment of electricity bills, a mere 18.47 per cent of the total number of users in the country, according to Electricity of Việt Nam. Banking insiders said most supermarkets, commercial centres and other modern retail sites accepted cards.

 

Meanwhile, by October last year, 90 per cent of urban people possessed cards, with the total number of cards reaching 110.8 million. But the number of users was very modest at just 15 per cent. One of the reasons is that though a huge number cards have been issued, the location of ATMs is skewed in favour of major cities while 70 per cent of the country’s population lives in rural areas. Another reason is the lack of security, which makes people apprehensive about non-cash payment methods. A spokesperson for the Commerce Development Research Institute pointed out that the habit of cash payment remains widespread, especially in rural areas. Besides, the interest rate and fees on credit on credit cards are astronomical, which also makes people reluctant to use them. To ensure that the PM’s non-cash payment plan can be achieved on schedule, all these problems must be resolved immediately, analysts said.

 

S Koreans dominate VN entertainment industry

Executives of Multimedia Joint Stock Company have been very busy working with some major partners from South Korea. They include YG Entertainment, which manages many of Korea’s biggest stars like Big Bang, 2NE1, PSY, Epik High, Choi Ji Woo, Black Pink and Lee Jong Suk, its subsidiary YGKplus, the country’s leading modelling agency, and Naver.com, the country’s biggest search engine and online media and entertainment channel. The Korean companies are seeking to tie up with Multimedia JSC in entertainment and fashion. They will send their stars to participate in major entertainment events in Việt Nam like the Vietnam International Fashion Week and also create opportunities for Vietnamese models in Korea. Besides YG Entertainment and Naver.com, many other Korean companies in movies, the media and entertainment also have plans to enter the Vietnamese entertainment market. The Việt Nam Film Distribution Association said the market was dominated by foreign distributors, many of them Korean. Việt Nam now has more than 50 cinema chains. Korean-owned CJ CGV Việt Nam is the largest in the market with 30 cinemas in 10 major cities. Lotte Cinema, also owned by South Korea, has 16 cinemas. A CJ CGV executive said each year the company opened around 10 cinemas in Việt Nam and expected to reach 60 by next year.

 

Market observers said South Korean investors saw plenty of opportunities in the Vietnamese entertainment industry. They find that the Vietnamese entertainment market is still in a fledgling state while the demand for entertainment has skyrocketed in step with living standards, meaning the sky could be the limit for investors. The fact that Việt Nam and Korea have many cultural similarities means Korean entertainment investors with their quality products can attract Vietnamese audiences easily. On the commercial side of things, there are several trade agreements Việt Nam has signed which offer opportunities to foreign investors, including those in the entertainment industry. Analysts said all this meaned pressure on domestic entertainment companies, who could lose the market completely to the Koreans if they were slow to react. In 2005 CJ CGV and Vietnamese company VIFA established a joint venture called CJ-VIFA whose first project was the drama “Mùi Ngò gai”. Then CJ CGV bought out Megastar, the largest chain of cinemas in Việt Nam at that time. At the beginning of 2014, after closing the acquisition, Megastar was renamed CGV. CGV now accounts for over a half the Vietnamese cinema market. It also dominates the film import market, and by showing more movies than its rivals, including blockbusters, CGV has become popular among the public. CJ CGV’s strategy is a vital lesson for local entertainment companies.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 03/06/2017

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Understanding the VN Law on Cross-Border Web Sharing

 

One of the government policies on the management, provision and use of internet services and online information, under Decree No 72/2013/NĐ-CP dated July 15, 2013, states that only information in accordance with Vietnamese laws may be transmitted to internet users within Việt Nam, even if it is cross-border transmission. To implement this policy, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) issued Circular No. 38/2016/TT-BTTTT on December 26, 201, detailing the cross-border distribution of public information. The circular came into effect on February 15, 2017. As defined in Circular 38, cross-border provision of public information refers to any act by offshore organisations/individuals using websites, social networks, online applications, search services and other online methods to provide public information that users, be it  organisations or individuals, in Việt Nam may access or use, wherein public information is,  as defined in Decree 72, online information of an organisation or individual that is made public to all entities without the need to identify the specific name or address of such entities.

 

Circular 38 requires that foreign entities providing public information to users in Việt Nam (information providers) shall observe the regulations and laws of Việt Nam and shall cooperate with the MIC in addressing violations, if any. In cases where an information provider provides illegal public information to Việt Nam, or refuses to cooperate with the MIC in addressing violations, Việt Nam’s authorised management agencies may take necessary technical measures to block their access from Việt Nam. Regarding steps taken in case of violations, Circular 38 states that upon detecting illegal public information being provided from outside its borders into Việt Nam, the MIC will notify the information provider of the violation and make specific requests so that the issue is addressed, removing the information or blocking access from Việt Nam (first notification). The information provider will have 24 hours from receipt of the MIC’s notification to verify and process the issue. If the information provider does not meet the MIC’s request within the prescribed time limit, the MIC will issue a second notification, and the service provider will have another 24 hours to comply with the MIC’s request or give feedback to the MIC. For implementing this cooperation mechanism, Circular 38 requires that an information provider who rents space in Việt Nam for storing its public information for the purpose of providing service, or has one million or more visitors from Việt Nam per month, shall notify the MIC of its contact details, which includes, for organisations, the registered company name and address, trade name, location of the main server for providing service, and contact persons in the registered country and in Việt Nam. The notification can be sent directly to the MIC, via post or via email to report38@mic.gov.vn. — Indochine Counsel

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 03/22/2017

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Vietnam IT Industry Index Introduced

 

A new Vietnam IT Industry Index that will process IT production, services and business information was introduced on Wednesday. The introduction was made by the Department of Information Technology under the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Việt Nam Association for Information Processing. According to the newly-launched index, first place in the general ranking was taken by Hà Nội, followed by HCM City, Bắc Ninh, Thái Nguyên and Đà Nẵng. In component indices including services and business, Hà Nội and HCM City took the lead. Meanwhile, Bắc Ninh was ranked first on the IT production index, followed by Thái Nguyên, Hà Nội and HCM City. In terms of the Vietnam ICT Index which is being compiled for the 11th year, the Ministry of Information and Communications said changes have been made to improve the Vietnam ICT Index 2016 . Đà Nẵng last year continued to lead the Vietnam ICT Index with 0.8321 points. Hà Nội jumped one place over last year to take second position, pushing HCM City to third place. The other localities in the top five are Quảng Ninh and Thừa Thiên Huế provinces. The three last positions in the index were taken by Lạng Sơn, Bạc Liêu and Điện Biên respectively.

 

The ICT Index report also ranked ministries with public services. The Ministry of Finance had the highest ICT Index with 0.8075 points, followed by the State Bank of Việt Nam and the Ministry of Education and Training. While the top two agencies saw no changes in position compared to 2015, the Ministry of Education and Training jumped nine notches from 12th to third place. For government agencies that do not have public services, Vietnam Television ranked first with 0.5879 points, followed by Vietnam News Agency, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. The indices are structured following the United Nations standard, which consists of three main components: technical infrastructure, human resources and IT application. The index has eliminated “inappropriate” indicators and included new ones in order to promote e-government, the Ministry said. "This has significant meaning because the information technology industry is playing an increasingly important role in the economy, including export value, jobs and its contribution to the State budget," said Đào Đình Khả, director of the Department of Information Technology. “This indicator will also help assess the actual state of the country’s IT industry and help localities identify their IT development potential, and from thereon, help formulate a development strategy for the industry," Khả added.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 03/23/2017

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Vietnam IT Industry Index Introduced

 

A new Vietnam IT Industry Index that will process IT production, services and business information was introduced on Wednesday. The introduction was made by the Department of Information Technology under the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Việt Nam Association for Information Processing. According to the newly-launched index, first place in the general ranking was taken by Hà Nội, followed by HCM City, Bắc Ninh, Thái Nguyên and Đà Nẵng. In component indices including services and business, Hà Nội and HCM City took the lead. Meanwhile, Bắc Ninh was ranked first on the IT production index, followed by Thái Nguyên, Hà Nội and HCM City. In terms of the Vietnam ICT Index which is being compiled for the 11th year, the Ministry of Information and Communications said changes have been made to improve the Vietnam ICT Index 2016 . Đà Nẵng last year continued to lead the Vietnam ICT Index with 0.8321 points. Hà Nội jumped one place over last year to take second position, pushing HCM City to third place. The other localities in the top five are Quảng Ninh and Thừa Thiên Huế provinces. The three last positions in the index were taken by Lạng Sơn, Bạc Liêu and Điện Biên respectively.

 

The ICT Index report also ranked ministries with public services. The Ministry of Finance had the highest ICT Index with 0.8075 points, followed by the State Bank of Việt Nam and the Ministry of Education and Training. While the top two agencies saw no changes in position compared to 2015, the Ministry of Education and Training jumped nine notches from 12th to third place. For government agencies that do not have public services, Vietnam Television ranked first with 0.5879 points, followed by Vietnam News Agency, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. The indices are structured following the United Nations standard, which consists of three main components: technical infrastructure, human resources and IT application. The index has eliminated “inappropriate” indicators and included new ones in order to promote e-government, the Ministry said. "This has significant meaning because the information technology industry is playing an increasingly important role in the economy, including export value, jobs and its contribution to the State budget," said Đào Đình Khả, director of the Department of Information Technology. “This indicator will also help assess the actual state of the country’s IT industry and help localities identify their IT development potential, and from thereon, help formulate a development strategy for the industry," Khả added.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 03/23/2017

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BANGLADESH: Excise Department, NBP, Punjab IT Board Sign Pact

 

An agreement was signed between Excise & Taxation Department, National Bank of Pakistan and Punjab Information Technology Board here on Wednesday for providing registration of vehicles and motorcycles to the purchasers at the sale points under Transport Sahulat Programme. Under the agreement, registration and number plates will be available from dealers to the purchasers instead of their repeated visits to the offices. The government is providing relief to the people through effective use of information technology for timely resolving their problems and improving service delivery. This was stated by Provincial Secretary Excise & Taxation Dr Ahmed Bilal at the launching ceremony of Transport Sahulat Programme. Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board Dr Umer Saif, In-charge Special Monitoring Unit Salman Sufi and Head of the National Bank were also present on the occasion. Narrating the details, Secretary Excise said that this agreement was part of Transport Sahulat Programme so that the registration system of vehicles could be modernised. 

He said under this agreement, the dealers registered with Excise & Taxation Department will provide License Plate to the purchasers of the vehicle at the time of purchase and the vehicle tax amount will be transferred to the account of Excise Department in National Bank through dealers directly. He said that the registered vehicles will be running on roads smoothly through this system and unregistered vehicles will be discouraged. The dealers' vehicles registration system will first be launched in Lahore and later its scope will be extended to other 35 districts. Under this system, theft of vehicles and other problems will be resolved. Secretary Excise & Taxation further stated the dealers obtaining license under this system will be given training of Dealers Vehicles Registration System Software and later this system will be started officially in Lahore. The registration of vehicles will be transferred on smart card next year. Ahmed Bilal said that the system was being introduced for the first time in South Asia which will not only help in eliminating corruption but the vehicles to be used in terrorism will also soon be identified. 

From http://www.brecorder.com 03/03/2016

 

 

 

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INDIA: Andhra Pradesh Becomes First State to Have an IOT Policy

 

Andhra Pradesh today became the first State in the country to have an IOT (Internet of things) policy of its own. A State Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, on March 2, 2016 approved the IOT Policy 2016. With this, Andhra Pradesh has become the first and the only state in India as well as SAARC region to come up with an IOT policy. “A lot of hard work has been put in this regard, which has finally borne fruit today,” G S Phani Kishore, Special Secretary – IT, Electronics & Communications Department, told Elets New Network (ENN). It is just the beginning of a huge opportunity unfolding under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Naidu, he added.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 03/02/2016

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PM Modi Orders for Expediting Digital India, Infra Schemes

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told officials to quickly implement the ‘Housing for All’ scheme in order to provide broadband to all gram panchayats and facilitate eGovernance.The order was issued as he reviewed the progress of key infrastructure sectors in the country, including coal, housing and ports, oil and gas, renewable energy and power, as also the Digital India programme.According to an official statement, “The Prime Minister was informed that progress of electrification of all unelectrified villages is proceeding at a rapid pace. Out of the approximately 18,500 unelectrified villages, 6,000 have already been electrified.”Modi also took special interest in renewable energy, notably on the progress in distribution of LED bulbs across the country. Officials said that against the target of 175 GW of such energy capacity by 2022, 39.5 GW of installed capacity had already been achieved.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 03/07/2016

 

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Govt Clears Rs.6,155cr Proposals for Electronics Manufacturing

  

In its bid to turn the country into an electronics manufacturing hub, the government has cleared proposals worth about Rs.6,155 crore. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) approved the proposals under the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS). The primary aim of the scheme is to provide financial incentives to companies for setting up electronics manufacturing units. As of now, the government has given approval to 28 electronics manufacturing clusters (EMCs) and common facility centres (CFCs) across the country. According to a report by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu released last year, the demand for electronics hardware in India is projected to grow $400 billion by 2020. However, by that time, the domestic production is estimated to rise to only $104 billion, while the rest has to be met through imports. However, through various means, the Government is looking at reducing the dependence on electronic imports by promoting domestic manufacturing.

 

The idea is to push more companies set up base in India to manufacture LED televisions, set-top boxes, automotive electronics, telecom equipment, RFID tags and labels among other things, a Ministry of Communications and Information Technology official said. “Most of the equipment till now are not made in India but only assembled. We hope that this would give a much needed push to the sector,” he added. Even as the government has been pushing electronics hardware manufacturing in India through measures like 100 per cent FDI under automatic route, no requirement for industrial licence, payment of technical know-how fee and royalty for technology transfer under automatic route, the impact of such steps has not been much visible measures until now. Lack of dependable power, high cost of finance, poor logistics and infrastructure, weak components manufacturing base are some of the factors holding back the growth of electronics in the country. Under the M-SIPS programme DeitY received proposals from 14 states, including Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. The states, which have been given final clearance, are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The proposals received include manufacturing of RFID inlays and tags, automotive electronics, telecom equipment, instrument clusters, optical fibre cable, LED televisions, wifi dongles among other things.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 03/27/2016

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e-Pragati: An Initiative of Orissa (India) Government to Connect Anganwadis in the Cyberworld

 

Soon Anganwadis of Orissa (India) would find space in the cyberworld. Anganwadis provides all facilities for children below the age of five. Now, people can access the details of an anganwadi worker and the children under her care through a click of the mouse. The project, e-Pragati, will connect all state's anganwadis on the net and supplement the e-Shishu venture which connects around 103-lakh children in 80,000 schools in 30 districts of the state The e-Shishu project provides all information about children within the age group of 9-14 years. e-Pragati will also contain details of children, who are in care under anganwadi workers. It will also allows registration of pregnant women by the health department and would give information on birth of children. State's IT SMEs sector has generated the e-Pragati project. In first phase of the project, it will focus on collection of data on Anganwadi workers and helpers, codify Anganwadi centres and generate an anganwadi management iInformation system (AMIS) Code. While in the second phase of the project, an e-Pragati website would be created, where data on children in the age group of 0-5 years will be uploaded.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 04/24/2017

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IT Department Launches New Facility to Link PAN with Aadhaar 

 

The Income Tax (IT) Department has made it easy for taxpayers to link their PAN with Aadhaar. Responding to grievances of taxpayers regarding difficulties in linking PAN with Aadhaar as their names did not match in both systems (e.g., names with initials in one and expanded initials in another), the IT Department has come out with a simple solution now. Taxpayers can go to http://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in and click on the link on the Left Pane, Link Aadhaar, provide PAN, Aadhaar number and ENTER NAME EXACTLY AS GIVEN IN AADHAAR CARD (avoid spelling mistakes) and Submit. After verification from UIDAI, the linking will be confirmed, an official statement said. In case of any minor mismatch in Aadhaar name provided by taxpayer when compared to the actual data in Aadhaar, a One Time Password (Aadhaar OTP) will be sent to the mobile registered with Aadhaar.  Taxpayers should ensure that the date of birth and gender in PAN and Aadhaar are exactly same. In a rare case where Aadhaar name is completely different from name in PAN, then the linking will fail and taxpayer will be prompted to change the name in either Aadhaar or in PAN database. There is no need to login or be registered on E-filing website. This facility can be used by anyone to link their Aadhaar with PAN. This facility is also available after login on the e-filing website under Profile settings and choose Aadhaar linking. The details as per PAN will be pre-populated. Enter Aadhaar number and ENTER NAME EXACTLY AS GIVEN IN AADHAAR CARD (avoid spelling mistakes) and Submit. Taxpayers are requested to use the simplified process to complete the linking of Aadhaar with PAN immediately. This will be useful for E-Verification of Income Tax returns using OTP sent to their mobile registered with Aadhaar.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/18/2017

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AZERBAIJAN: Minister Talks Priority of Tax System for 2017

 

The improvement of human resources will be a priority of the Azerbaijani tax system in 2017, Azerbaijani Minister of Taxes Fazil Mammadov said in the article published on the website of the Intra-European Organization of Tax Administrations (IOTA). “Currently, introduction of a knowledge management in various areas of tax administration by using the latest achievements of information and communication technologies is essential in terms of effectiveness of the tax system in any country” the minister said. “Knowledge management generates new opportunities for assessing and managing the risks threatening the taxpayers and tax authorities.” “As a result of introduction of innovations and IT based knowledge management, intellectual and technological capital of agency goes up,” he added. “Therefore, compliance with tax obligations becomes more affordable.”  Mammadov added that with the goal of HR capital investment and further capacity building, Twining project on "Support to Ministry of Taxes of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of investing in HR capital” in the framework of Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union has been successfully fulfilled.  “With our Spanish and French colleagues, we have organized forward-looking manager groups who play an important role in realization of the new tax policy,” he added. He added that certification programs further improve qualification of tax officers, with programs consisting of training sessions and tests for obtaining certificates that serve as an incentive for continuous improvement of tax officials’ skills and knowledge. “Additionally, I would like to touch upon our relations with IOTA,” the minister added. “At the moment, we learn the best practices of member countries’ tax administrations and their application for training purposes, as well as e-learning processes.” “Ministry of Taxes of Azerbaijan that has set a goal of studying the practice of developed countries and using the latest innovations in the field of e-learning, places enormous emphasis on existing productive and constructive cooperation with IOTA,” he said.

 From http://en.trend.az/ 02/28/2017

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Small Industrial Zone to Be Created in Yangiyer

 

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the Resolution ‘On Small Industrial Zone in Yangiyer City in Sirdarya Region’ on 30 March to harness the city’s industrial potential, attract investment, boost competitiveness, optimise infrastructure use, and create new jobs. Under the resolution, Sirdarya’s khokimiyat, the State Cadastre Committee, and the State Architecture Committee are given one month to set out the zone’s location and borders. The zone’s land will be managed by Sirdarya’s khokimiyat, with the zone itself to operate for a renewable term of 30 years. The small industrial zone is set to: promote small businesses, ensure employment, and raise income in Sirdarya; realise tech projects in various areas; harness Sirdarya’s resource potential; and continue high-tech manufacturing localisation by expanding cooperation. Businesses operating on the small industrial zone will be exempt from the single tax and customs duties (except for application fees) for the import of necessary goods. The exemptions will be in force for three years, granted the businesses make investments totalling no less than 2000 minimum wages. If the annual revenue falls below the 1000-wage level, the exemptions will be annulled, and the business will have to repay the taxes for the respective year. If duty-exempt imports are resold within the first three years of arriving in the country, they will be subject to customs duties according to the law. Under the 20 January Cabinet Resolution ‘On Additional Measures for Socio-Economic Development and Further Improvement of Population Welfare in Sirdarya Region’, commercial banks and business unions have been tasked with organising 207 projects with a total worth of $40m.

 From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 04/04/2017

 

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Uzbekistan Launches Licence System

 

Tashkent held a press conference following the launch of ‘Licence’, an interactive licencing tool, developed as part of the five-area Action Strategy 2017-2021. Licence is an information system helping state bodies grant licences to businesses. It will ensure transparency of licencing activities and open access to licence rosters. The Licence system will give citizens general information about licencing. The system will allow businesses to send an online application and get e-licences from 1 January 2018.  Launched in December 2016, the electronic licencing portal is now in beta. Public officials have already filed around 600 licence applications. Half of them have already been reviewed and put on the roster, containing over 41,000 licences. The portal offers a guide on how licence applications in over 40 areas are to be submitted. The areas include transport, customs, banking, architecture, construction, culture, publication, advertisement, trade, medicine, and others.

 From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 04/06/2017

 

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National Stage of Technovation Uzbekistan Ends

Inha University held Startup Mix #30, in the framework of which 21 teams of Technovation program in Uzbekistan presented their projects to the jury. The theme of mobile apps prepared during 12 weeks was about the sustainable development of the United Nations. The purpose of the presentations is to perform, show the work of the teams, to receive comments and recommendations from experts.  The next day after the project presentations, the Palace of Youth Creativity hosted the final event of the program, which was attended by participants, their parents, mentors, media and special guests: Tanzila Narbayeva – Deputy Prime Minister, Chairperson of Women's Committee of Uzbekistan, Sarvar Babakhodjaev – rector of Inha University in Tashkent, Rustam Zakirov – head of Department of improvement of administrative procedures at "E-government" under the Ministry for development of information technologies and communications, Pamela Spratlen –U.S. Ambassador and Carmela Shamir – Israeli Ambassador. In the final event, the sponsors of Technovation Uzbekistan determined 8 special team nominations: Project EClean, which connects residents and companies involved in garbage collection, presented by team ECOLIFE won in the nomination “Best innovation project” of the Israeli Embassy.  UNIQUE UNION won the nomination from the US Embassy «Best social project», for app JoinME, which allows finding travel companions for journeys by taxi and roommates for shared rental housing.  Bright Minds with their HealthTech app won in the special category of the UNDP "open data". The app allows making an appointment to doctors online. There were dozens of other teams who won in different nominations.

 From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 05/11/2017

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Licensing Telecommunications to Be Eased

 

IT Ministry is developing a draft government resolution "On additional measures on improving licensing activities in the sphere of telecommunications" in order to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs when licensing in the telecommunications sector. The resolution will allow to:  - reduce unnecessary barriers to registration of licenses, including in electronic form;  - simplify the licensing procedure;  - reduce the number of documents to be submitted by the applicant for obtaining a license for a specific activity, based on the specifics of the licensed activity.

 From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 05/13/2017

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AUSTRALIA: Government Has No Issue with Agencies Demanding Telco Data Outside Metadata Laws

 

The Attorney-General's Department does not consider agencies using their own statutes to demand data from telcos as a loophole.The Attorney-General's Department (AGD) sees no issue with the ability of government agencies to make demands on telco data outside of the scope of Australia's data retention laws.One of the so-called benefits of passing data retention laws -- which allow enforcement agencies to warrantlessly access customer call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data stored for two years by telecommunications carriers -- was the reduction in the number of bodies with access to telco data to 21.However on Wednesday, telco industry body the Communications Alliance said some agencies that were meant to have had their data access privileges revoked were skirting the restrictions and remain able to call upon telcos to produce data they are interested in.

 

According to the Communications Alliance, because the metadata laws force telcos to respond to any lawful information requests, some agencies have been able to cite powers contained in their own statutes to demand data."Such agencies include local councils (who request access to data to manage minor traffic offences, unlawful removal of trees, illegal rubbish dumping, and billposters), the RSPCA, the Environment Protection Authority, and state coroners, to name a few," it said."The use of these other powers to access communications data appears to circumvent protections in the Act and TIA Act."In response to questions on whether the AGD -- the part of government with oversight of the data retention scheme and its implementation -- would look to end this behaviour, it did not say it would.

 

"There have long been provisions in the Telecommunications Act 1997 allowing records, including telecommunications data, to be disclosed where required or authorised by law," a spokesperson for the department told ZDNet."These powers are distinct from the data retention regime set out under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979."Australia's data retention laws passed Parliament with the support of the Australian Labor Party, which former Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare defended last year."The changes we forced the government to make mean tighter rules, and for the first time real oversight over the use and misuse of this data," Clare said."The original legislation that the Coalition introduced was seriously flawed and we made over 70 changes to it. One of the big changes we made was to limit the number of organisations that can now access metadata from 80 to about 20."

 

On Thursday, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told ZDNet that Labor would probe the government on the situation revealed by the Communications Alliance."Labor pressed for a reduction in the number of agencies that could seek access to retained data at the time legislation was passed," Dreyfus said."Labor will seek an explanation from the government as to whether some agencies that are not on the list of approved Enforcement Agencies are still accessing retained data."In January last year, AGD said it had not utilised provisions in the metadata legislation that allow it to grant an agency temporary access to telco data. When asked to confirm this stance on Thursday, the department said it had not "added any enforcement agencies under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 since the data retention legislation was passed".

 

AGD is currently examining a prohibition on the use of telco metadata in civil court cases.From April 13, any data stored solely for compliance with the data retention laws will not be able to be used in a civil court case. Data that is used for other purposes by carriers will remain available for civil proceedings.Australia's dominant carrier, Telstra, said in a submission to the review there would be a number of practical compliance issues for telcos should the prohibition come into force."This will create uncertainty for staff in having to differentiate between what telecommunications data is retained for the purposes of s187AA of the TIA Act, and what data is retained for other business purposes," Telstra said."This may be the case particularly if [carriers] are put in a position where they have to determine at what point in their systems the data retained is in compliance with the TIA Act, or whether the data is retained solely for day-to-day business purposes. "This added logistical hurdle adds costs to the process of compliance. The differences in approach may also make it complicated for parties to litigation to know what data they will be permitted to have access to."Lining up to shoot down the idea of widening access to telco metadata were the Australian Privacy Foundation, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Victorian Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection David Watts, and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

From http://www.zdnet.com 03/09/2017

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SA Changes Laws to Simplify Electronic Docs Transfer by Courts

 

The South Australian Government is introducing new laws designed to make it easier for people working in the state’s justice system to send documents electronically.The laws were passed through state parliament this week and the government says they will help cut red tape within courts by ensuring a clear framework surrounding the electronic transfer of documents.The laws also relax the consent requirements for the electronic transmission of documents, making it easier for authorities to send documents electronically.Previously, authorities needed consent from the intended recipient to send material electronically.The changes to the Act relax those conditions, so that consent is implied if it can be ascertained that the recipient has Internet access and the ability to download and print a document, in certain criminal and related proceedings.The current Electronic Transactions Act 2000 already allows for the use of electronic communications as a preferred method of sending material.And, the new amendments to the Act clarify the circumstances under which electronic communications can be used, ensuring it’s clear that the Act applies to both civil and criminal matters.“These changes will help give greater scope for authorities to send documents electronically, by relaxing the consent requirements for some criminal and related proceedings,” says South Australian attorney-general John Rau.

From https://www.itwire.com 03/29/2017

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ACCC Acts OverClaims Apple Violated Consumer Laws

 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed suit in the Federal Court again Apple, accusing the company of making "false, misleading, or deceptive representations about consumers’ rights" under Australian Consumer Law.In a statement, the ACCC said it had begun an investigation after reports of the appearance of an error on iPads and iPhones after application of an update. After this update, a message saying "Error 53" appeared on the devices.The consumer watchdog said its prove had shown that Apple refused to examine or service defective devices if these had previously been repaired by a third party, even in cases where the repair had no connection to the fault.It said that under Australian Consumer Law, there were guarantees about quality, suitability for purpose and other characteristics of goods and services, "and consumers are entitled to certain remedies at no cost where goods and services do not comply with the consumer guarantees".

 

The ACCC claims Apple told consumers whose devices had the "error 53" problem that they were not entitled to free service if their devices had previously been repaired by so-called "unauthorised repairers".However, it said, this did not invalidate the consumer’s right to a remedy for non-compliance with consumer guarantees.“Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party,“ ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.“Denying a consumer their consumer guarantee rights simply because they had chosen a third party repairer not only impacts those consumers but can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer.”“As consumer goods become increasingly complex, businesses also need to remember that consumer rights extend to any software or software updates loaded onto those goods. Faults with software or software updates may entitle consumers to a free remedy under the Australian Consumer Law.”The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance programme orders, corrective notices, and costs.

From https://www.itwire.com 04/06/2017

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Data Retention Laws Still 'Bad Law', Says IA

 

Australia’s new data retention laws nominally come into effect tomorrow — Good Friday — but Internet Australia still maintains the scheme is unlikely to fully achieve the federal government’s aims.The law was passed more than two years ago on the grounds of an urgent need to combat terrorism, but according to Internet Australia it has major weaknesses. IA has repeated a call for the government to bring forward a review of the scheme scheduled to take place in 2019.“The fact is, the government doesn’t actually know how many ISPs there are, much less how to find them all,” said IA executive chair Anne Hurley.“The Attorney-General’s Department received 210 applications for funding under the scheme and approved 180. However, it is widely believed there are more than 250 ISPs out there, possibly many more.”Last year the then chief executive of IA, Laurie Patton, questioned the scheme on cost and operational grounds.

 

"International experience has found that data retention is of limited, if any, value in the fight against terrorism. Many European countries are struggling with or winding back their data retention schemes in the light of concerns for personal privacy rights. Yet we will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this questionable law,” Patton said.Hurley said today that the ability of the security agencies to create a mass store of everyone’s metadata is a prerequisite for the scheme to work effectively.“If there are huge gaps in the data collection the value of the scheme will be severely diminished”, she said.According to IA, the long-term implications of the Data Retention Act also include the potential for a loss of competition in the supply of Internet services, with Hurley warning the compliance costs of the scheme will be felt hardest among smaller operators. "Our fear is that many of smaller ISPs who provide niche (services), especially in regional Australia, are with another technical and financial hurdle that threatens the very variability of their businesses. Our ISP members are very unhappy and with good reason.“We have a flawed scheme that will see consumers paying more for their Internet. If we must have a data retention scheme the Government should properly fund it and make sure it will actually work,” Hurley concluded.

From https://www.itwire.com 04/13/2017

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Labor Slams AFP, Silent on Backing for Metadata Laws

 

The Australian Labor Party has termed the illegal accessing of a journalist's metadata by the Australian Federal Police as "shocking" and questioned why it was disclosed on a Friday afternoon when the Commonwealth Ombudsman was informed two days earlier. AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin made the disclosure, confessing that some members of his force had illegally accessed a journalist's phone records in the course of an investigation into a leak. Labor shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus was reported by The Guardian to have said that while it was good that the AFP reported the breach, the fact that it happened was clearly unacceptable. Dreyfus made no mention of the fact that Labor had backed the passage of the metadata retention laws in 2015. But he said Attorney-General George Brandis and Justice Minister Michael Keenan should be also asked for an explanation about the incident, without the AFP alone having to take the blame.

 

AFP admitted today they misused metadata. Was inevitable because mandatory data retention invites mischief and mistakes. AW #auspol #politas — Andrew Wilkie MP (@WilkieMP) 28 April 2017 "Both ministers must explain – when were they notified of the breach, and what immediate action did they take? Is there a legitimate reason for the public announcement being made two days after the breach was reported to the ombudsman?" Dreyfus said. iTWire has contacted Dreyfus for any further comment. Asked for his reaction, independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the man who blew the whistle on the use of flawed intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, provided only a brief statement which he made on Twitter. His spokesman pointed iTWire to the tweet which read: "(The) AFP admitted today they misused metadata. (It) was inevitable because mandatory data retention invites mischief and mistakes." iTWire has also contacted Senator Nick Xenophon for comment. The metadata incident is the latest in a long line of screw-ups by the AFP.

From https://www.itwire.com 05/01/2017

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NSW to Lead Government Digital Services: Dominello

 

The key to NSW’s 21st century policy design and service delivery is through a focus on data as vital infrastructure, Victor Dominello, the state's Minister for Finance, Services and Property said today as he launched the government's Digital Strategy at CeBIT. He said while there may need to be a human face in many government and customer transactions — the customer experience — the back-end must be “digital by default” – a reform of digitising existing processes. A website would be home for all digital government initiatives, tools, and communication to drive the transformation of the NSW Public Sector. Dominello said that there were four enablers – technology, cyber security, legislation/regulation and delivery capability. A great customer focused experience would be to combine these and meaningfully use the data across the whole of government. Service NSW already provides over 300 customer services online of its 970 over-the counter services.

 

He referred to some of the more visible examples of digital transformation – Fuelcheck, E-Planning, and Digital Licences. These would be followed by the voluntary rollout of “smart meters” to replace the old, inefficient analogue system of reading meters, sending out bills and lots of paperwork, not to mention the red tape in installing an analogue meter. “We have to make it easy for thousands of licenced electricians to install these meters so we have introduced the MO Smart Meter Tool,” he said. He said a key next step was the development of the NSW Data Ecosystem that would provide government and citizens with the capability to unleash the full potential of our data. It would make it easier and faster for people to turn data into insight and impact. Part of that is NSW Trends, a comprehensive approach to dashboards and reporting that removes the information silos to deliver information in real-time to lift the accountability and performance of government.

 

“We have to make it effortless for government and citizens to engage with data and to easily draw insights e.g. Where are the fires? Where are the fire trucks? Where are the water supplies? Where are the hospitals, and what is the current queue for emergency departments? NSW Live will allow anyone to see exactly what is going on across NSW on a map in real time,” he said. “These tools are powered by the NSW dMarketplace – our “TripAdvisor for data” to make it much easier to discover and access the data you need. Data can be rated for quality, recommendations for other data you may find useful, an ability to pose questions to the data owner, tag your favourites” he added. Dominello concluded that data at our fingertips enabled NSW to keep a finger on the pulse of what was happening right now and to use these insights to support better regulation and focus our efforts on the areas of greatest need.

From https://www.itwire.com 05/23/2017

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NEW ZEALAND: Nicotine E-Cigarettes to Be Legalized

 

The sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal, in a process that will begin this year and is expected to come into force in late 2018.The Government will align the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes, Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner announced on Wednesday.Ms Wagner acknowledges that some retailers are already selling nicotine e-liquid, however no one has been charged for selling or buying the product. "Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there's a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking," Ms Wagner says.'Vaping' is inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.While the current legislation makes it legal to import e-cigarettes, it's illegal to sell them if they contain nicotine.Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox has previously called for vaping to be subsidised by the Government, to support smokers moving to a less harmful product.

 

Taxpayer-funded vaping is the Maori Party's latest anti-smoking pushTobacco company Philip Morris has welcomed the changes, saying it will help New Zealand to progress towards its 2025 smokefree goal. "It is clear that products that do not burn tobacco are significantly better than conventional cigarettes," general manager Jason Erickson says. "To achieve the Smokefree 2025 goal, adult smokers in New Zealand will need access to a broad range of smokefree alternatives, including nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products."COSMIC retail chain owner Mark Carswell is "very pleased" about the changes. "We are delighted for the New Zealand smokers who now have mainstream access to vaping as a way to quit cigarettes. We've been retailing e-cigarettes for five years now and it is great to have positive clarity around the legislation."New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:

 

Restricting sales to those 18 years and overProhibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking isbanned under the Smoke-free Environments Act Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers,especially children and young people."Public consultation showed a strong appetite for change so the Government is looking to introduce an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act this year. The changes will likely come into force later in 2018," Ms Wagner says.All vaping products will need to meet quality and safety standards, and the Ministry of Health will set up an advisory group to help set these standards.E-cigarette products will not be taxed as cigarettes are, because the Government wants to encourage smokers to switch to the less harmful alternative. "We'll have no excise on e-cigarettes or e-liquid. I think that's an important thing so that when a smoker goes into the dairy he or she will see cigarettes at a very high price, and e-cigarettes much cheaper."Under the new regulations e-cigarette products won't be required to have plain packaging, and can be advertised in stores and on the outside of stores. The Government maintains its goal for New Zealand to be smoke-free by 2025.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 03/29/2017

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NZ LoT Alliance Launched

 

The government has heralded the launch of a new alliance to explore the potential economic and social benefits of the Internet of Things.The alliance is one of several new initiatives included in the new Building a Digital Nation report, a statement from communications minister Simon Bridges said.The report said: “MBIE is … supporting NZTech to form a New Zealand IoT Alliance. This Alliance will be a collaboration of industry and government working towards accelerating the adoption of IoT technologies for the economic and social benefit of New Zealand. The Alliance will utilise the research into IoT in the New Zealand market as its knowledge base to set focus and direction.”The report listed participants as being MBIE, NZTech, TUANZ and InternetNZ and said the aim was to “Accelerate the adoption of Internet of Things(IoT) technologies in New Zealand through market research and the establishment of an IoT Alliance.” It said also that “MBIE is partnering with NZTech to undertake a research report considering the opportunities for IoT within the New Zealand market. This research will provide a stocktake of current applications of IoT and will further explore how New Zealand can better utilise this technology in a secure way.”That initiative was announced by NZTech in March with TUANZ and InternetNZ as participants but was described only as “a national research project to better understand the potential benefits and risks of the Internet of Things (IoT) for the New Zealand economy,” not a formal alliance.As Computerworld pointed out at the time, the IT industry in Australia had already formed the IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA) to shape the regulatory and collaborative framework to harness for Australian industry the huge opportunities generated by IoT.

 

Announcing the alliance, Bridges said that the IoT “is a transformative technology, one that promises to boost productivity across all major sectors of the economy, assist in monitoring our health, make transport and logistics more efficient, help reduce energy consumption and tackle environmental issues.”He said the government had a key role to play in ensuring that New Zealand could take advantage of what IoT had to offer. “Initial research by the alliance, which will provide an evidence base for future work, already suggests potential economic benefits to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy through the deployment of IoT across a variety of sectors.”The Building a Digital Nation report “sets out how the Government is partnering with New Zealand’s digital sector, with other sectors of the economy and the wider digital community, to enable New Zealand to become a leading digital nation,” Bridges said.“This is the first time the full programme of activity has been pulled together in one place, serving as a focal point for ongoing engagement with the digital community and for shaping and driving New Zealand’s digital transformation.”

From https://www.computerworld.co.nz 03/31/2017

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Government Initiatives Needed to Boost Digital Inclusion

 

The Innovation Partnership, a body sponsored by Google, Chorus and InternetNZ, says New Zealand is falling short on ‘digital inclusion’ and it has called on Government to address the issue in collaboration with other organisations.Its conclusions come from a study Digital Inclusion in New Zealand: Assessing Government policy approaches and initiatives, authored by Catherine Soper, a policy analyst working for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The study reviews a range of digital inclusion strategies in the United Kingdom, Finland, Singapore and Australia and identifies lessons for New Zealand. It found that governments in these other nations had given broader policy focus to improving digital skills and inclusion.The study defines digital inclusion as “using technology to create social and economic involvement, overcoming challenges such as access, skills, motivation, confidence and trust.” According to Soper “Much of New Zealand’s focus until now has been on improving access. Now it’s time to step up and ensure all citizens have the skills, motivation, confidence and trust to live and work in a digital world. New Zealand can learn by the examples of others.”Her report calls for targeted policy and initiatives from government, industry, NGOs and educators to “help lift New Zealanders’ digital skills.”

 

It says New Zealand needs better and more accessible data on who is excluded, and an improved understanding of what digital skills are needed to improve digital fluency.It calls on the Government to “lead the development of good data that defines digital exclusion, provides clear indicators and measures, enables the development of targeted initiatives, and ensures we can monitor change.” The partnership says such initiatives are needed if New Zealand is to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. The report cites research that, it says, shows GDP could be lifted by $34 billion and the average household save $1,000 a year if businesses and households had the skills and confidence to make better use of online services.“Despite a number of strategies and reports since 2001, and progress being made, some people are still excluded,” the partnership says. “For example, research shows that young, well-educated people in urban areas tend to use the Internet more, and that people in low socio-economic and rural areas are more likely to be digitally excluded.”

From https://www.computerworld.co.nz 04/27/2017

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The Next Chapter in Internet Governance

 

The inclusion of “civil society”—an umbrella group of activists, advocates, not-for-profit organizations, and even the academia—in Internet governance ranks among the most significant achievements of this decade in international relations. For a while, it appeared the “global, multistakeholder community” that drove normative processes like the 2014 NetMundial conference in Brazil, would stitch together rules for managing the global commons of cyberspace.That assumption today stands on shaky ground. If multistakeholder models of Internet governance were itself a product of globalization, its future appears uncertain in this current climate of “de-globalization” and localism.So, if states and strongmen have reclaimed political authority over national governance, why would they allow digital economies to function outside their remit? What’s more, these popular political leaders have discredited the private sector, which was expected to underwrite the global expansion of digital networks.

 

Today, companies have neither the appetite nor the legitimacy to incubate such governing platforms. Instruments of globalization like the Trans-Pacific Partnership were supported by big technology corporations, but as the TPP’s demise shows, the mood across much of the world appears to favour protectionism over expanded trade. If the private sector recedes, multistakeholderism loses its most powerful advocate.The inclusion of “non-state” actors in global governance itself emerged from a political context, which no longer exists. A world bruised by the global financial crisis mistrusted governments, and created a network of institutions that would not be managed by states alone.The formation of the G20 (and its sister groupings for businesses and civil society like B20 and C20), short-lived government-bank partnerships, and the renewed focus on cross-border trade all but ensured that the private sector and non-governmental organizations were seated at the high table of international politics.

 

Digital spaces benefited immensely from this geoeconomic moment. Whether to widen their consumer base, sustain their fledgling online presence, or ensure connectivity, businesses and governments realized they needed the Internet. Digital networks, therefore, became the conduit for globalization.Ironically, digital spaces also sowed the seeds of the current anti-globalization mood. By shrinking geographies, social media platforms brought divergent, often conflicting voices in proximity to each other. Such online polarization spilled over into the real world, pitting communities in a zero-sum game.Majoritarian movements unleashed across the world threw up political strongmen, who in turn renewed the mandate of a strong nation-state. Governments today are more powerful than ever, enforcing protectionist policies, limiting migrants, micromanaging currency supplies, and engaging in widespread surveillance.

 

This moment in international politics should offer pause to the multistakeholder community, which finds itself in danger of being sidelined by governments—perhaps for good reason. “Multistakeholderism 1.0” reflects a sharp bias towards transnational corporations, and powerful, omnipresent civil society actors, while constituents from the global South have had their voices hijacked.As the plethora of cyber policy conversations at the 2017 Munich Security Conference demonstrated, matters of the Internet are essentially a dialogue between white males shouting across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the biggest technology giants have woefully underinvested in local talent, resources and needs.This model is synonymous with the absence of government from governance, and relied mostly on the benevolence of markets. This is unsustainable, and will prompt state agencies to step into the governance vacuum created by continuing market failures.

 

What is the solution to this crisis of conscience and confidence for the multistakeholder community? First, the role of the state should be reviewed in multistakeholder processes. State-led institutions still hold political appeal, especially in democracies, and Internet governance must work with this real and popular mandate of governments.The state in developing countries continues to guarantee the security of digital infrastructure and networks as a public good, a role that must be acknowledged in multistakeholder platforms. Second, domestic multistakeholder conversations on Internet governance need to be strengthened to ensure marginalized communities that do not have the wherewithal to participate in global dialogue are uniquely represented.Finally, the thrust of multistakeholder Internet governance itself requires reformation. So far, such processes have sought to promote the openness and freedom of digital spaces and conversations, a laudable goal in which civil society plays an important role. But little energy has been spent on ensuring affordable digital access, and in conceptualizing how the next billion will engage with digital platforms.

 

Will first-generation Internet users in the Asia-Pacific and Africa rely entirely on mobile devices, triggering new conversations on platform security? Are digital policies equipped to handle the proliferation of local language content across devices? Are emerging Internet of Things ecosystems interoperable? Will new Internet users be discouraged from digital spaces by subversive activity online? Will insurance hurdles and cyber-risk ratings retard the growth of digital economies in some regions? These are complex questions that should be confronted by “Multistakeholderism 2.0”.Multistakeholderism 2.0 requires a democratization of the process of Internet governance and pluralism in uncovering the universality of the so-called “core values” that influence policy conversations. Recent political developments in the US and Europe suggest the sanguine belief of the existence of a “global civil society”—rallying around common values or ethics—will be tested in the days to come. Therefore, the success of Multistakeholderism 2.0 will be contingent on bringing local communities, businesses and leadership to the forefront of Net politics. As commentators like Latha Reddy argue, countries like India will not only have the obligation to speak for the second largest constituency of Internet users but also the largest population of unconnected citizens. To serve them, multistakeholderism, cradled by global ideals, must now be nurtured by local realities.Samir Saran is vice-president at the Observer Research Foundation.

From http://www.livemint.com/ 03/08/2017

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Internet of People Blockchain Project Fermat Adopts Distributed Governance

 

Fermat, a decentralized and blockchain-enabled open source project developing the Internet of People (IoP), has announced a new release of its distributed governance system featuring an embedded voting system inspired by that of privacy-focused cryptocurrency Dash, but featuring community-cancelable contracts.“Fermat’s graphchain technology enables both a global mapping of everybody with verified proof of how they are related, and also people to people and company to people interactions without going through intermediaries. In order to achieve this as a decentralized open source project we need a sound distributed governance system, one which includes Contribution Contracts,” said Luis Molina, Founder of Fermat.Fermat’s contribution contracts enable any individual or entity interested in offering their services, whether that is software development, marketing or business development support, to submit a proposal to the community of token holders.Each token holder is then able to vote yes or no on each contractor submission, ultimately accepting or declining proposals. Contracts that pay out over time can also be terminated by the network after being accepted. The developers say this feature incentives proposal owners to effectively communicate and continuously prove value publicly.“At the beginning, only token holders may vote. In the future, it is our aim that the system will evolve to include reputation of the participants and will consider their voting history and project outcomes,” added Molina.

From https://www.financemagnates.com/ 04/19/2017

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Get Ready for Net Neutrality's Ugly Return

 

Once more into the net neutrality breach, friends.In the waning days of the Obama administration, an increasingly activist Federal Communications Commission plunged head-first into regulatory waters that had long been the exclusive domain of non-governmental engineering groups.The FCC passed or considered rules prescribing specific network management, data collection and use, interconnection and intellectual property procedures, setting retail service rates, preempting state regulation of municipal networks, and even whether mobile providers could continue to offer free data services.But the most controversial intervention into the Internet’s engineering remains the notorious 2015 Open Internet order, which transformed consumer broadband service from a collection of private networks into a public utility, regulated by the FCC and state utility commissions.The agency claimed that utility “reclassification” was necessary to enact “prophylactic” net neutrality rules that would ensure network operators didn’t slow or speed up Internet traffic for anti-competitive reasons.It was a far cry from the days when a far-sighted majority of a Bill Clinton-era Congress declared in 1996 that the policy of the U.S. was to leave the Internet “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”

 

The courts, Congress, and now the Commission itself have since restored much of the balance in the Internet ecosystem, undoing many of the most dangerous experiments before they had time to do much damage.Now, it seems, FCC Chairman AjitPai is ready to begin clean-up of the public utility tangle.Though no proposal has yet been made public, Pai is reported to have held numerous meetings in recent weeks describing his plans to reset the utility decision.The meetings included industry stakeholders such as the Internet Association, which represents leading content and service companies.Many of the Association’s member companies here in Silicon Valley have been ambiguous, to say the least, about utility treatment for broadband.  Google, Netflix, and others who at one time supported reclassification have since changed their minds, recognizing the risk, as Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt said at the time, of the FCC “starting to regulate an awful lot of things on the Internet.”That concern was shared by the Internet Society, the Consumer Technology Association, and other non-partisan engineering groups.

 

Netflix in particular, recognizing belatedly that public utility regulations for broadband could someday extend to its own non-neutral conduct, reconsidered its advocacy soon after the 2015 Order was passed.   It has repeatedly told investors in recent months that it no longer thinks FCC rules are even necessary.That admission may surprise you.  It may also surprise you to learn that broadband providers, who have also been meeting with Pai, are by no means opposed to the Open Internet principles (as the FCC refers to net neutrality) or the Commission’s attempts to enforce them.AT&T and others, for example, praised the FCC’s 2010 version of the rules, which only Verizon challenged in court and then only on jurisdictional grounds.  Verizon, whose business has changed dramatically in the interim, now supports the most recent version.  Most leading broadband providers are bound to some version of the rules in any case, as conditions for approval of recent mergers.

 

The Public Utility Proxy

As these facts suggest, the net neutrality story is by no means the simplistic Internet freedom narrative that characterizes most of the public discussion and press coverage—inflammatory rhetoric guaranteed to reach new heights once Pai’s proposal is published.That’s because much of the D.C.-based advocacy promoting net neutrality has nothing to do with the network management principle vaguely defined in 2003 by a legal academic, which argued that traffic traveling on the public Internet was not and should not be sped up or slowed down for anti-competitive reasons—a principle no one disagrees with, regardless of how they think it ought to be enforced.The actual (and only-sometimes admitted) goal of the most vocal inside-the beltway activists and their chief funders in the decade-long net neutrality “debate” has instead been to turn broadband into a government or quasi-governmental service.(The Ford Foundation did not respond to several requests for comment.)

 

Open Internet rules and “net neutrality” have simply been their populist shorthand—one easily digested by Internet users and the media.But recognizing the unpopularity of calls to nationalize wired and mobile broadband infrastructure, especially given the sorry state of our existing utilities, pro-utility forces fixed on net neutrality as their slogan, hoping consumers and reporters don’t look too closely to see what’s really behind the curtain.Indeed, as ISPs and others in the Internet ecosystem continue to work more closely together to resolve real network management issues, the politics of net neutrality have mutated far from their roots.“Net neutrality” has become a meaningless term, a proxy for whatever gets the most visceral response from consumers at any given moment.  The term is now used interchangeably to mean everything from free speech to democracy itself.The clearer it becomes that there is already broad consensus on the original meaning and importance of neutrality, it seems, the more desperately pro-utility activists swerve to keep the flight alive, even if it means throwing the interests of actual Internet users under the bus.

 

As part of the Internet fear-mongering that began soon after Donald Trump’s election, for example, Pai was accused, even before being appointed, of wanting to “kill,” “destroy,” “dismantle,” or “abolish” not just the reclassification order but the Internet itself.  Just talking about alternative enforcement mechanisms brings predictably dire warning of the “end of the Internet as we know it.”The crucial distinction, intentionally buried in these sound bites, is that utility treatment for the Internet and net neutrality are two very separate things.One can support a prophylactic ban on anti-competitive and other behaviors that actually harm consumers, in other words, but also believe that nationalizing a still-emerging and rapidly changing technology infrastructure into just another decaying water, electrical or transit system is a cure far worse than the disease.That not-so-subtle difference isn’t likely to get much attention in the next few months.  Instead, with their 2015 victory perhaps soon to be undone, utility advocates are ramping up for a full-on Internet tantrum.  Pai’s proposal, which isn’t even finished, is already being condemned by those who now at least acknowledge that their true agenda was at best only peripherally about network traffic management.

 

Rather, as one legal clinician admitted earlier this week, the new net neutrality fight is actually “about whether or not internet access is a utility rather than a luxury.”  (Implying these were the only two possibilities.)  “If it’s a utility, it needs to be subject to rules, laid out in advance, about availability and quality.”Regardless, she predicted, whatever Pai does will be a “catastrophe.”Likewise, another self-described utility activist and former advisor to the previous FCC Chairman now insists that reclassification was essential not to provide a legal foundation for net neutrality rules after all, but as the only protection consumers have against “fraudulent billing, price gouging, and other harmful ISP practices.”(She doesn’t mention that the Federal Trade Commission had full power to protect against such practices—and did so, until the FCC’s own action in reclassifying stripped its sister agency of authority.)What also goes unmentioned in the current round of flame-throwing is that an imminent return to net neutrality hostilities was entirely avoidable.

 

Before the 2015 order, both Democratic and Republican FCC Chairmen had rejected the idea of reclassification, as did a bi-partisan majority of Congress.   Tom Wheeler, President Obama’s final FCC Chairman, resisted it until the end.  Reclassification had always been considered the “nuclear option” for the FCC—one with potentially fatal economic if not legal defects.In fact, after a second defeat in the courts for the agency’s efforts to overcome Congressional limits on their authority over broadband networks, Wheeler declared that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had at last provided a legal “roadmap” to get the rules enacted without the need for reclassification—a life preserver he quickly grabbed and set out to utilize.An actual solution to the net neutrality problem, however, presented utility activists with their worst-case scenario.,Recognizing that the FCC was poised to pass sustainable net neutrality rules without reference to utility treatment, the activists staged what they themselves described as a “coup,” working with friendly if naïve officials in the White House to craft an alternative proposal, released much to Wheeler’s surprise as “President Obama’s Plan” for the Internet.

 

The Obama Plan dispensed with any pretense, insisting that in addition to net neutrality rules, broadband Internet service should also be transformed into public utilities.The White House provided no evidence, however, of the kind of devastating market failures that have historically been seen a prerequisite to nationalizing private infrastructure.No matter.  Blindsided, Wheeler deep-sixed a nearly-complete order that had been carefully drafted to comply with the court’s “roadmap,” and started over.  In early 2015, with a bare majority of the Commission’s support, a patchwork alternative was approved that subjected broadband services, as the White House demanded, to the yellowed volumes of federal law originally drafted to control the long-gone Bell telephone monopoly.Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, the decade-long campaign to conflate net neutrality rules with public utility authority culminated in the decision to reclassify first, and then use the vast new powers the agency had given itself to re-enact net neutrality rules, more-or-less an afterthought.

 

Nearly all of the lengthy order’s contents dealt with getting around dozens of legal land mines standing in the way of reclassification and of force-fitting the Internet into the square peg of 1930’s telephone law.  In the end, only a few pages were spent on the net neutrality rules themselves.Fears about the long-term consequences of utility regulation, supported by over a century of research in the economics of public utilities, were shouted down.  The agency’s own chief economist at the time referred to the 2015 order as an “economics-free zone”--a nasty surprise for investors who had spent over $1.5 trillion to build new network infrastructure while public roads, bridges, water, power and transit utilities increasingly collapse, fail, or explode, respectively.Whether reclassification really was the agency’s only option, or whether the cost of utility regulation was even remotely offset by the benefits of FCC enforcement of anti-competition law, was analysis entirely absent from the 400-page decision.

 

What’s Next?

As Pai now takes on the difficult task of unraveling the public utility order, it’s unclear how he intends to continue his longstanding support for the Open Internet principles themselves.The optimal solution remains Congressional action, such as a bill first proposed in 2014 by Republican leadership, which would have made strong net neutrality rules a matter of federal law.But Democrats, anticipating they would retain the White House and control of an activist FCC in the 2016 election, saw no reason to negotiate a more permanent solution.  That position doesn’t seem to have changed, though now for very different reasons.In the interim, the next-best solution may be to return enforcement of potentially anti-competitive practices to the Federal Trade Commission, which was cut out of the picture by the FCC as part of its reclassification order.  The FTC, the expert agency for dealing with anti-competitive behavior, has long served as cop on the beat for broadband providers as well as other Internet companies, and could return to doing so as soon as the reclassification mess is cleaned up.

 

Whatever happens next, it won’t be pretty.  Or necessary.  A confusing new war over Internet governance, more costly and uglier than all the previous fights, wouldn’t be happening at all if Wheeler had been left alone to follow the roadmap provided by the courts.That would have allowed the FCC and FTC to share authority over broadband.  If would have given consumers more protections than they have in nearly any other industry.But as will become abundantly clear in the next few months, protecting Internet users was never the objective of pro-utility activists, who continue to poison the net neutrality well long after making it politically toxic.So contrary to what you will soon be hearing, the Internet apocalypse is still not upon us, nor will it be.  As the latest net neutrality slogans become ever more incendiary, ask yourself what the real objective is of those calling you to the barricades.And consider whether you’re really being cast as a freedom fighter, and not simply cannon fodder.

From https://www.forbes.com/ 04/21/2017

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AFRICA: Tunisian Telecom Authority Adopts Transparency Measures

 

Following a consultation published in February, the Tunisian telecoms authority INT has published a new ruling (Decision coll/Reg/2017/10) strengthening transparency in the way network operators and service providers communicate and advertise their offers.The ruling details the minimum set of information to be made available to consumers for both telecoms and added value services, including the obligation to inform users of any change made to their service.It also specifies how the information concerning the offers needs to be displayed via TV, press and outdoors marketing activity, in order to ensure readability for all the relevant terms and conditions.

From https://www.telecompaper.com/ 04/22/2017

 

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EUROPE: E-democracy - Opportunities and Risks

 

Eight out of 10 Europeans used internet at least once a week last year, according to Eurostat. But although the internet has become a part of everyday life, it is still not being fully used to boost democracy. On 16 March MEPs adopted a report stressing that new information technologies offer great opportunities to involve people more in the democratic process. The report by Spanish S&D member Ramón JáureguiAtondo's was approved with 459 votes for, 53 against and 47 abstentions.

 

Different approaches across Europe

European countries have so far had very different approaches to the opportunities offered by e-democracy, depending on how concerned they are about the risk of hacking.The Dutch government, referring to the possibility of hacking, announced that all casted votes will be counted manually for the general elections taking place last Wednesday. Until 2007, voting machines where used in Netherlands at the polling stations but it was then proved that these machines could be easily manipulated and since then e-voting is banned in the country.France has allowed e-voting in legislative elections for its citizens abroad since 2012 but dropped the possibility this year, citing cybersecurity fears. France's legislative elections take place in June.In Estonia legally binding remote e-voting for local, national and EU elections has been carried out eight times since 2005. So far, no hacking has been reported.

 

Parliament report

MEPs adopted a report on e-democracy, written by Spanish S&D member Ramón JáureguiAtondo. Referring to Estonia’s example, the report says that for a successful implementation of e-voting in other countries, it will be necessary to assess whether the participation of the whole population can be guaranteed. The report also states that high-speed internet connections and secure electronic identity infrastructure are vital to make e-voting a success.

 

The report also defines some key terms:

E-democracy refers to the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to create channels for public consultation and participation, for example for elections, consultations or referendums.E-governance refers to the use of ICT to establish communication channels that enable the inclusion of the various stakeholders with something to say about the policy-making process. This could be for example a consultation on whether a specific speed limit should be kept.E-government refers to the use of ICT in the public sector, particularly to provide people with information and services electronically. This could be for example to enable to pay their speeding ticket online.

 

EU examples

Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Citizen's initiative was launched in 2012. It enabled people for the first time to ask for EU legislation on specific issues provided they gather one million signatures in support. Three have now reached that threshold.In the EU, people also have the right o submit petitions to the European Parliament. The complaint has to be linked to the EU's functioning and will then be dealt with by the Parliament’s petitions committee. Submitting and following petitions is possible via a special web portal.

From http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ 03/28/2017

 

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E-Democracy: Could It Bridge the Gap Between the EU Institutions and the Citizens?

 

In an increasingly digitalized world, democracy has to adapt to a new environment. In order to bridge the gap between citizens and governments, and to promote the citizens’ participation in the democratic process, EU member States have started exploring e-democracy tools to recover citizen trust. The European Parliament has focused on this field at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) Committee in order to find the best practices and e-democracy tools that could be implemented at the EU level. Elisa Lironi, the Digital Democracy Manager at European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) answered our questions. ECAS’ missions are to empower citizens to exercise their rights, and to promote open and inclusive decision-making through the provision of high-quality advice, research and advocacy, as well as capacity building for civil society organisations. As the author of the study « Potential and challenges of e-participation in the European Union » she gave us her expert opinion on e-democracy. Why do some countries across Europe have different approaches regarding e-democracy?

 

Governments start implementing e-democracy mechanisms for different reasons and each case should be analyzed. For example, in 2010 Iceland was recovering from a heavy financial crisis and as a result of deep crises in the legitimacy of its political and economic establishment, Iceland’s Parliament and Prime Minister (of the time) proposed a crowdsourcing experience to rewrite the Icelandic Constitution. So e-democracy was implemented as a way to regain trust of citizens in the Icelandic government. Finland instead, is a very technologically advanced country, where hi-speed Internet access is a legal right so following this background, the government adopted the New Citizens Initiative Act and today there is an e-participation platform for this. Do you think that cyberattacks are an obstacle for the evolution of e-democracy in some member States? Yes sure because there are still many people who do not trust online services, tools because they are afraid, for example, that their data can be stolen or information can be held against them. Cyberattacks reinforce this sentiment and slows down the process of widespread e-participation.

 

What are the measures already in place about e-democracy at the EU level? On the institutional level, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has a strong online component, so it can be considered an e-democracy tool at the EU level. Online EU public consultations are also part of these measures taken, but the questions are quite specific so there is mainly participation from experts in the field of the consultation and less from citizens. As additional e-democracy measures at the EU level, we can include e-participation projects co-funded by the Commission and implemented by organizations (like ECAS), but these projects are usually short-term and rarely sustainable after the end of the project. Some MEPs have also worked on their own initiatives by creating their own platforms to reach out to their constituents. Do you think that the first concrete measures in this field must be taken at the national level or at the European level?

 

I think both. There are already a lot of e-democracy mechanisms being applied at local and national level and the EU level can definitely learn from these experiences. But the EU is also different so it should start experimenting with e-participation tools on its own to assess the potential and challenges of these tools. Would the national measures be supported by the European Union or would their implementation depend on the Member States will? I think national measures depend mostly on Member States’ will, although this does not exclude the fact that the EU could support them or be a role model by applying e-democracy mechanisms on its own. Do you think that e-democracy would facilitate public consultations for citizens? Would it bridge the gap between the EU institutions and the people? Do you think that consultations would be binding?

 

Online public consultations are already a part of e-democracy. What should be the focus is how inclusive and representative these consultations are. A consultation is a way to consult and they don’t have to be binding but it is important to give feedback, to explain very clearly to participants how their contributions will be taken into consideration and what sort of impact will the consultation have on policy-making. It is extremely important to meet the expectations of the participants. Do you think it will allow a revival of the citizens’ interests in European policies? In your opinion, can we translate the ideal of e-democracy into useful tools for the EU? You will always have people who are not interested or disengaged, but the point is to give the right tools to those who do want to participate. I think there is a strong potential for ICT (information and communications technologies) to contribute to a better democracy because e-participation tools could make democracy more efficient and widespread (you would just need the Internet and you could contribute to policy-making). Of course, online tools are always complementary to offline tools and shouldn’t replace them.

 

The EU should embrace these new online mechanisms to reach out to citizens and allow them to have a say in decision-making processes. Traditional politics, based on elections, is not enough for many people anymore. Many people (i.e. young people) are using technology to voice their opinions on specific issues they care about and prefer having more direct contact with their policy-makers. The EU should do two things: first, exploit technology better in order to understand what citizens are voicing online and see how this can contribute to better EU policy-making and second, experiment much more with online e-participation platforms to allow citizens to have a say and impact on policy-making.

From https://eulogos.blogactiv.eu/ 05/07/2017

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Katrin Nyman Metcalf on Legal Aspects of Egoverance in Estonia

 

Dr. Katrin Nyman Metcalf is working as a legal expert on e-governance for the Estonian e-Governance Academy as well as teaching Legal Aspects of e-Governance at Tallinn University of Technology. She has worked in countries across the globe in this field, which makes her the right person to explain the legal side of e-governance. What can you tell me about the legal situation for e-governance? It must be very complicated, no? Yes and no. There is no need for a lot of special legislation on e-governance – in fact, it is not advisable to have such legislation, as this risks creating a parallel governance system while ideally e-governance should be a way to improve governance, not duplicate things. For example, many people expect Estonia to have a lot of e-governance legislation as we are so advanced in this area, but there are very few legal acts that are specific for the “e” aspect of our governance. What is essential from the legislative viewpoint related to e-governance is to go through and analyse all legislation to see if there are any obstacles to transitioning to use of electronic documents and digital signatures and so on. There are also certain issues that do need special rules as they are simply too different in the electronic world to be handled through reinterpretation of existing legislation.

 

What issues are these?

The main one is the digital identity or signature. The essence of a signature is well known in law: it is a way to show intent. This can be recreated electronically, but it would look quite different from a traditional signature so we need a law to show what kind of electronic signature that is accepted by the legal system: how is it to be made, who is responsible for verifying the means of making the signature and so on. You mentioned possible legal obstacles to e-governance, any examples? There are quite a lot of requirements of form for example in procedural or administrative legislation of different countries. This can be something simple as stating that certain decisions should be made on for example blue paper or something underlined in red. What do you do with this in the electronic world?

 

So what should you do?

There are different options. Of course, it is possible with special software or just use of text highlight or different coloured fonts to recreate the blue paper or red line. But I think it may be even more important to analyse what this requirement provides, what is different because of the blue paper or red line and is this really essential. In this way, introduction of e-governance can be a suitable time to go through and modernise legislation in a wider way than just what is directly derived from the technology.

 

Any more legal tips to those working on e-governance?

One important thing is to involve lawyers! I know that we lawyers are often the ones who are afraid of technologies and reluctant to deal with such matters, but hopefully that is changing and we all realise that in a technology-dependent world, nearly all aspects of governance and society involve technology in some form. If lawyers are involved early in the process, there does not have to be any legal complications with e-governance, but if technologies are introduced without attention to possible legal implications, there could later on be important problems. For example, it is essential that e-transactions have full legal value if a country wants to transition to e-governance. We cannot have a situation in which “paper evidence” or similar is asked if and when something goes to court. I would also add as an important legal point that data protection must be considered. On this, there should be legislation. It does not have to be special for electronic data – the content rather than the form of data should be decisive – but rules are needed. Technology can help to make data more secure rather than the other way around, and such possibilities must be made use of.

From http://egovernancedigest.com/ 04/19/2017

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Malta: Crowdsourced Democracy Becomes a Reality

 

The IDEAT project launched by the PartitNazzjonalista a few days ago offers a glimpse into how Maltese politics can be transformed through a digital platform which bridges the divide between the citizen and the Party that represents it.IDEAT is built around an eDemocracy framework in which ICT serves as a tool of choice in order to, not only engage and communicate with the population, but empower it to be better equipped to participate in the democratic process.Crowdsourcing is less a new idea than a new concept. It covers a wide array of tools that use the power and knowledge of crowds brought together through the Internet, especially by means of social media and other applications which primarily focus on bottom-up information flow. Citizens can take part in brainstorming, discussing, developing, and formulating ideas that used to be the limited domain of political elites.This IDEAT project seeks to explore methods to obtain active citizen input in the policymaking processes - an input which has been severely curtailed by this government. It serves to empower each and every one of us, enabling our voice and ideas to be heard. Politics for the people can be more than just casting your vote when a general election comes by.Politics for the people can be more than just casting your vote when a general election comes by

 

The platform has been online for just over 200 hours and has registered significant engagement:

1 visitor sees the platform every 37 seconds.

A new user registration occurs every four minutes.

A new policy proposals idea is received every six minutes.

Policy proposals were read 150,000+ since launch.

Over 30,000 votes were received to prioritise policy ideas submitted. That’s a vote every few seconds.

Citizens are engaged and spend around six minutes per session focused on the ideas of interest.

People want and expect empowerment. The IDEAT portal proposes a citizen-centric approach to using ICT whereby people are considered participant members of the society, active players in the formulation of ideas. Party leader Simon Busuttil is committed to transform IDEAT into a national reality if elected on the 3rd June.

 

Imagine a new government that is open to ideas, a government that immediately opens up its policy proposals for public consultation, fine-tuning and feedback. Imagine a government where the people (or social partners) don’t just receive a fait accompli but are empowered to voice their positions and opinion immediately. The past few years have been rife of situations where the people were simply not informed, let alone empowered.  IDEAT can address that, finally bringing our democratic values back to centre-stage through active participation and empowerment. We will change the way we do politics. We will transform the democratic processes that has lived undisturbed deep within our country for too long. We will choose Malta.Visit www.forzanazzjonali.com/ideat to take the first step.

From https://www.timesofmalta.com/ 05/22/2017

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Norwegian Govt. Goes Online for Management Solution

 

The Norwegian Government has gone live with a major new information management solution to empower its national website, www.government.no. The new system allows staff from 17 Ministries to access all information and documents. The solution uses Networked Planet's TMCore topic maps technology to link together over 30,000 'documents', consisting of more than 300,000 web pages from 17 ministries, providing an intelligent navigation tool for the entire site. The new solution allows staff from the Norwegian Government's 17 ministries like education, environment or immigration as well as the Prime Minister's office to classify documents according to themes. The system then attaches topic, theme and relationship metadata to the document, enabling it to be categorised as part of a larger grid of files, all connected semantically. TMCore allows one to create navigation and associations across the system. 

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 04/24/2017

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Ontario Announces First Chief Digital Officer

 

The Ontario government is bolstering its digital profile with its latest hire.The province announced on Mar. 27 that it has appointed Hillary Hartley as Ontario’s first Chief Digital Office (CDO), in an effort to streamline online government services and improve efficiency. “Hello, Ontario! I am so excited to join an incredible team of passionate people, with wicked digital skills, who are working hard to create change and bring user-focused design and internet-era ways of working to government,” Hartley says in a Mar. 27 press release. “Making government services simpler and easier to use will have a huge impact on people’s lives — I can’t wait to get started.”

 

Officially starting the role in April, Hartley is tasked with “setting and executing Ontario’s digital government agenda, which will put people first and make services simpler, faster and better for users.”The agenda will serve as Ontario’s roadmap to digital transformation, which it hopes will set new standards, shift its culture, and empower the next generation of talent.In its 2016 budget, the provincial government notes that the digital agenda will identify high-impact digital projects and services to be transformed; adopt a “digital-by-default” approach focused on making online services so easy to use that people prefer to use them over traditional methods; a digital talent strategy to attract in-demand skills; and online information and engagement initiatives to make it easier for people to participate in government decision-making.Hartley will partner with government ministries to deliver digital projects and accelerate transformation “by setting new service standards for digital products, attracting and empowering digital talent, and aligning partners around delivering the best possible customer experience.”

 

Additionally, Hartley will also serve as chair of the province’s first Digital Government Board.Prior to accepting this position, Hartley was the deputy executive director of 18F, the U.S. government’s digital office, and a former presidential innovation fellow. She was also the director of integrated marketing at NIC Inc., which encourages states and local governments to modernize by embracing new Internet-based technologies and approaches.Deborah Matthews, the minister responsible for Digital Government and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, says she is “thrilled” to have Hartley as Ontario’s CDO.“Attracting top international talent, like Hillary Hartley, demonstrates that Ontario is where the world comes to work and is a leader in the global movement to transform government services,” she says in a Mar. 27 press release.Echoing this excitement is Steve Orsini, secretary of the Cabinet.

 

“Transforming the Ontario Public Service to be a more client-centred digital government will generate better outcomes in new and more cost-effective ways. I am pleased that Hillary will be joining the Deputy Minister team to deliver on the government’s digital strategy,” he adds.Hartley beat out more than 400 candidates across the US, UK, Australia, Europe and South America for the position, the Ontario government says. She will report to the head of the Ontario Public Service and Minister Matthews, who was named to her respective position in September 2016. The Digital Government Office was established in the 2016 budget in an effort to make online services simpler, faster and better for citizens in such a technological age.

From http://www.itbusiness.ca/ 03/28/2017

 

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Online Tax Filing Is an E-government Success Story

 

Overall, Canadians are satisfied with online tax filing, but privacy concerns and lack of digital skills mean that achieving a fully digital tax system will take time.It is tax season once again and Canadians are busy preparing their tax returns. Most filers will submit a return online, either directly through NETFILE or by having an accounting firm or tax preparation company submit it online through EFILE. Electronic filing of taxes has quietly become the most-used electronic service provided by the government of Canada.Online filing started on an experimental basis in 1999 and was expanded to a full service in 2000. Writing in 2006, Jeffrey Roy noted in E-Government in Canada: Transformation for the Digital Age that half of Canadian tax filers in 2004 submitted their returns online and described the program as “the most significant example of success” of e-government services. According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), 84 percent of tax returns were submitted online in 2016. The number of returns filed electronically has increased every year for the last five years.The rapid uptake of this technology by Canadians suggests that it is a success, but we wanted to hear more from Canadians. Who submits online and who still submits on paper? How do users of the e-service assess their experience? Why do some Canadians prefer to send a return through the mail? In May and June 2016, as part of our Online Citizenship Canada project, which is studying Canadians’ online political activities, we conducted an online survey of 1,000 people. Since the tax filing deadline for 2015 had just passed, we decided to ask them a few questions about their experience.

 

Who submits online?

To begin, we asked respondents whether they had submitted their 2015 federal tax returns through the CRA website. One out of three respondent hadn’t because someone else had submitted it for them (31 percent) or they hadn’t filled a tax return for 2015 (2 percent). Among those who submitted a tax return by themselves, 79 percent used the CRA website and 21 percent used the mail.Most studies of online technologies find that young people are more likely to use them. Tax filing is an exception. We did not find any linear relationship between age and the method of filing: between those aged 18 to 29 and those aged 70 and over, the same proportion (three out of four) submitted their tax returns online. There’s no gender gap either. However, a digital divide clearly appeared once we factored in education and income. Citizens with a university degree and higher income were more likely to submit online. The proportion of respondents who sent their tax returns online was 68 percent among those who had not studied beyond high school but 83 percent among holders of a university degree, a gap of 15 percentage points. The gap was even more pronounced (20 percentage points) between those whose household income was below $60,000 (67 percent) and those with income higher than $90,000 (87 percent).

 

How do Canadians assess their experience?

Our second goal was to investigate how citizens assess online filing. The program appears to be a success. We asked filers who used the CRA website to select from four statements the one that best described their experience. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said “the process was smooth and efficient” and they were “sure that [they] will process [their] federal tax return online in forthcoming years.” Eleven percent “experienced some problems, but it is still very likely that [they] will process [their] federal tax return online in forthcoming years.” Only 1 percent said that they were unlikely to use this online option again, because they “experienced some problems” or because “the process was complicated and a loss of [their] time.” Our survey did not ask more specific questions that might highlight parts of the experience that need improvement. The overall assessment of these Canadians is that they found the process efficient and they are ready to do it again.

 

E-government: Why not use it?

We also asked an open-ended question to those who submitted returns by mail: “Why didn’t you process your 2015 federal tax return through the Canada Revenue Agency website?” A qualitative overview of the responses allowed us to identify issues that seem to limit the adoption of this e-government service.First, many respondents indicated they simply preferred paper forms and the mail (“I like hard copy,” “I like working with paper,” “I like the paper and make a copy for myself…always keep proof of everything”), or found paper easier (“easier for me to mail,” “easier to fill out by hand”). Very few respondents explicitly declared a lack of digital skills, but the comments about preferring paper probably reflected such limitations. Indeed, we had previously interviewed some of our respondents in another wave of the survey and measured their digital skills through a six-item scale; not surprisingly, the relationship between digital skills and the likelihood of submitting online was statistically significant. Other technological concerns also prevented some citizens from submitting their tax returns online: not having Internet at home, issues with tax software or browsers and not remembering the password.

 

Second, many respondents expressed concern over the security of the process. Some didn’t trust the Internet in general (“I really don’t trust so much important information being used online,” “the Internet is too vulnerable”), while others had concerns related to software (“privacy protection, I don’t trust any software under third party”) or specific to the CRA website (“don’t trust the website”). One respondent wrote: “I still remember when their system crashed because too many people sent it on-line at the same time and the mailed ones were handled more promptly as a result. It feels much safer to me.”A third reason is simply a lack of motivation related to old habits or a desire to keep tradition. “Always submitted a paper form of return and I guess I’m stuck with my ways of doing things,” wrote one respondent. “I’ve been doing it by hand and sending it by mail since the past 30 years,” indicated another taxpayer. “I like filling out my form with paper and pencil. Tradition,” answered a third one.Finally, some respondents had specific grounds for their tax filing choices. “Because I have a paper trail of documents to put in,” wrote one person. “My return is complex & requires a paper return,” thought another one. A few others did not know it was possible to fill a tax return online, and one believed it costs money to file online.

 

An e-government success story

Overall, Canadians are satisfied with their experience submitting their taxes online. In the 2017 federal budget the government committed to expanding the range and quality of its digital services. The online tax filing system may serve as a model. However, it is important not to forget those who lack confidence either in their own digital skills or in the protection of the privacy of their personal information. A significant number of Canadians continue to have reservations about online filing; lowering this number will likely require investment to address privacy concerns and improve digital skills. Achieving a fully digital tax return system will take some time.(This online survey was conducted on our behalf by NRG Research Group between May 12 and June 9, 2016. The response rate was 40.6 percent. The data were weighted by the region, age and sex of the respondents. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded the research through an Insight Grant.)

From http://policyoptions.irpp.org/ 04/12/2017

 

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The (Poor) State of Digital Transformation in Canada

 

If 2016 was the year businesses became aware of digital transformation, 2017 is the year that these businesses begin to equip themselves for that disruption.In its second annual digital transformation report conducted by IDC Canada, SAP Canada drew the conclusion that despite the fact that Canadian organizations are aware of digital transformation, the majority have yet to act on it. Out of the 300 Canadian executives surveyed, SAP found that only about four out of 10 are enacting these digital transformation practices. The rest are still in the planning stages, despite the vast majority of those surveyed indicating an awareness of digital transformation possibilities.“There is no question that executives are having a sense of urgency now. They want to do something before they get distrupted themselves,” said SAP Canada vice president, head of industry, Sam Masri in an interview with ITBusiness.ca. “The main reason why they aren’t moving fast enough seems to be because of execution and productivity challenges. Digital transformation is hard. It’s a painful process. A lot of people are still trying to digest what it means for their business.”

 

Keep reading for highlights from the report.

Canadian executives are aware of digital transformation, but the real transformation hasn’t started yet.

- 38 per cent of executives are rolling out their digital transformation strategies

- 50 per cent are planning and building their digital transformation strategy

- 12 per cent are still trying to determine their digital transformation plan

Disconnect between front-line employees and executives on digital transformation.

 

On whether those surveyed agree that the ‘CEO and board have digital innovation on management agenda’.

- 62 per cent of executives agree

- 49 per cent of customer-facing employees agree

- 43 per cent of operational employees agree

 

Mid-sized companies are slower on the draw than their enterprise counterparts.

Mid-sized organizations are less likely to have developed a digital mindset strategy and say that digital innovation is on the management agenda. However, mid-sized businesses have a greater cloud adoption of cloud computing as a way to innovate.

- 31 per cent of companies with $250 – $500 million in revenue have taken steps on the digital transformation path