Autumn 2013 Issue 43

 

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

 


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

 

 In the World of Internet Policy, Online Freedom Hangs in the Balance

 Expansion of IT Pact to Boost Global Economy: APEC Officials

 U.S.: Enhancing Public Access to Legal Data

 ESTONIA: Top 5 e-Services in 2013

 CHINA: Announces 9 Pilot 'Smart Cities'

 SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t to Widen Administrative Data Transparency

 VIETNAM: To Implement E-Assessment for Civil Servant Performance

 SINGAPORE: Teaming Up with Private Sector to Train Cyber Security Workforce

 INDIA: Government Releases National Cyber Security Policy

 AUSTRALIA: Government Streamlines Big Data Strategy

 

 

 

 Declaring Internet Freedom for All

 In the World of Internet Policy, Online Freedom Hangs in the Balance

 AFRICA: Media Foundation Welcomes Internet Freedom Project

 Gambian Media Law Restricts Internet Freedom

 EUROPE: Draft Data Law Could Kill Casual Web Browsing, Digital SMEs Warn

 Business and Human Rights – What This Means for the ICT Sector: European Commission Publishes Guide on UN Principles

 Norway Plans High-speed Internet in Arctic

 LATIN AMERICA: Uruguay's New Media Law - A Model for Latin America?

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Ottawa Stands Firm on Wireless Policy

 U.S.: Will Texas Pass Nation's Strongest Email Privacy Bill?

 The Federal IT Procurement Reform Act Passes House in Defense Bill

 Hawaii's Open Data Law Takes Aloha State to 'Next Level'

 Enhancing Public Access to Legal Data

 Internet Gaming - Law vs. Reality

 White House Expands Guidance on Promoting Open Data

 

 

 CHINA: IT to Play a Bigger Role - Minister

 China Announces 9 Pilot 'Smart Cities'

 China Pledges More Efforts to Protect Personal Info

 JAPAN: Stalking Law Revised to Include E-Mail

 SOUTH KOREA: KT to Launch Cloud Services in Japan

 MSIP, MOSPA and MOTIE Clashes Before the ‘Special Act on ICT’

 Gov't to Increase Free Wireless Internet Zones

 

 

 INDONESIA: To Improve Defence GIS Capabilities

 Indonesia Tests E-Billing for Tax Payments

 World Bank Promotes Open Data in Myanmar

 MALAYSIA: Launching Online Permit Renewal for Foreign Workers

 PHILIPPINES: To Launch E-Payment Scheme for Business Registration

 The Philippines Launches New ICT Projects

 The Philippines to Institutionalise Telehealth Program

 Philippine Lawmaker to Transform Legislative Process with Crowdsourcing Portal

 THAILAND: Revealing New Govt Website Standard

 VIETNAM: To Digitise National Database

 VN Prepares to Go Digital

 

 

 INDIA: Prasar Bharati Plans to Launch Mobile Apps

 Government Launches WiTrac Technology

 TRAI Issues New Regulations for Mobile Number Portability

 PAKISTAN: Ministries of IT, S&T Sign MOU for Production of Electronic Products

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: New Draft Laws on ICT Sphere Developed

 Azerbaijan to Adopt New ICT Standards

 Azerbaijan to Allocate Frequencies for Needs of 4G Standard

 IRAN: ICT Minister Writer of 9 Titles, Numerous Scholarly Papers

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: Should Digital Copyright Be Reformed?

 Australian Government Dusts Off Digital Strategy

 QLD Releases New ICT Strategy

 ACMA Launches ‘Digital Citizens Guide’

 Implementing a New State ICT Strategy in Australia

 Australian Government Streamlines Big Data Strategy

 NEW ZEALAND: To Launch Revitalised ICT Strategy

 NZ Gov Seeks Submissions on Telco Regulation

 

 

 

 Audit of E-Government Projects Long Overdue

 Fragmentation, Censorship and Political Surveillance of the Internet Are Among Risks in Global Debate on Governance, New CIGI Paper Says

 AFRICA: Gambia - Government Warns of Massive Crackdown on Online Freedom

 EUROPE: E-Government Improving, but Citizens Want More, More, More

 European Dialogue on Internet Governance in Lisbon- How to Serve the Public Interest

 Europeans Dominate Political Twitter Rankings

 Moldova Builds E-Government: Mobile Digital Signature

 Moldova Builds E-Government: G-Cloud and E-Services

 Moldova Builds E-Government: Open Data

 E-Government in Romania – From ‘Nice-To-Have’ to ‘Must-Have’

 LATIN AMERICA: Chile Leads LAC in UN E-Government Ranking

 Latvia Ready to Share E-Administration Experience

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Budget Watchdog Data Shows Bureaucracy Grew Under Harper

 U.S.: The Google Perspective - Gigabit Internet in Local Governments

 5 Lessons from Gov 2.0

 The Government’s Data Center Count Has Doubled Since 2011

 State Department Bureau Spent Thousands for Facebook Fans

 Government Has Dropped the Ball on IT Reform, Lawmaker Says

 Industry Perspective: State Government Leads President’s E-Government Charge

 State Department IG Highly Critical of IT Sub-bureau

 White House Unveils CIO Council 2.0

 

 

 SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t to Widen Administrative Data Transparency

 Seoul to Carry Out Education Program on E-Gov't

 Defense Ministry Bans Smartphone Use Inside Its Office

 Kominfo DG Explains E-Govt Cooperation with Korea

 

 

 Indonesia and Korea Sign MOU on E-Government                                     

 Myanmar and ADB Collaborate on E-Government Master Plan

 MALAYSIA: Launching GIS-Based Dengue Monitoring Portal

 Philippines: To Deploy Extra Layer for Govt Data Security

 The Philippines Unveils New E-Gov Master Plan

 The Philippines Launches Pilot Trial of E-Court System

 SINGAPORE: Govt to Release More Data on Singapore for Personal and Business Use

 THAILAND: Launching E-Correspondence Management System on G-Cloud

 VIETNAM: To Implement E-Assessment for Civil Servant Performance

 Vietnam to Speed Up Path to E-Government

 

 

 INDIA: Kapil Sibal Launches “E-Gov Appstore”

 Government Launches New Website for Tribal Welfare

 E-Pension for Retired Government Officials

 New Application to Enhance m-Governance in Kerala

 Prime Minister Reviews National e-Governance Plan

 Ministry of External Affairs Launches Smartphone Application

 e-Governance Introduced in Hazaribagh Municipality

 Government Plans to Build 160,000 Service Centres to Implement e-Governance

 Election Commission Decides to Use VVPAT System

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Version of E-Government Website Presented

 Azerbaijani State Departments Expand Application of E-Services

 OMAN: MoCS Holds E-Training for Public Sector Staff 

 UZBEKISTAN: Having Launched Single Portal of Interactive Public Services

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: To Join Open Government Partnership

 Australian Government Fast-Tracks Cloud Strategy Reforms

 Government Faces Video Competition for Internet 'Prime Time'

 Public Sector's Best Tech Minds Converge for Technology in Government

 NEW ZEALAND: Delivering E-Procurement Reforms

 Government to Tackle IT Debacles

 

 

 

 Expansion of IT Pact to Boost Global Economy: APEC Officials

 WTO, World Bank to Develop Services Trade Database

 Global Clothing B2C E-Commerce Report 2013

 Global Web Traffic Plunged 40% During Google Blackout

 Nurture High Value Added Suppliers to Capitalize on Electronics Supply Chain, Says Analysis

 EUROPE: Commission Announces 13.7 Million Boost to Cross-Border Digital Public Services

 Estonians Spend Less On-Line

 Poland Has 55.5 Million Mobile Phone Subscriptions

 British PM Slams Internet Companies

 NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - Commerce Seeks Unified Customer Management System

 Giants Knocking at the CEE E-Business Doors

 The New Hot Commodities Market - The Cloud

 Border Protection Agency Considers E-Commerce

 

 

 CHINA: E-commerce Is Just the Business for the World's Future

 New Battle for 4G Equipment Market Share

 China's Telecom Firms Reveal 4G Strategies

 Alipay Fund Sees Over 2.5 Million Users

 Firms Put Most Cash into Online Businesses

 China to Float 40 Bln Yuan in E-savings Bonds

 Global Online Shopping Benefits Chinese Manufacturers

 Buying Online Becoming a Global Craze

 Alibaba, E-concierge, Soon at Your Service

 China Boosts Information Consumption

 JAPAN: Thin Surveillance of Online Drug Sales

 Backlash Occurs in Japan over Sales of Train E-Ticket Records

 SOUTH KOREA: IT Exports, Trade Surplus Set Record Highs in May

 South Korea's KT to Spend $2.65B Upgrading Network, Creating Jobs

 Korea Tops Global Smartphone Penetration in 2012

 S. Korea Banks to Segment Network, Establish Data Backup

 SK Telecom Recognized as World's First Provider of LTE-A Service

 Korea’s Online Procurement Service Shared with Mongolia

 

 

 MALAYSIA: App Offering Consumer Info Launched

 THAILAND: Stock Exchange Deployed Data Management Software

 Thailand Launches Three Software Services on G-Cloud

 ICT Industry to Enjoy 33% Profit Growth This Year, Asia Plus Says

 VIETNAM: Government Bans Four Kinds of E-Commerce Activities in Effort to Prevent Fraud

 Vietnam State Telco to Deploy Cloud Computing

 

 

 INDIA: TRAI Issues “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2013”

 Government Allows 100 Percent FDI in Telecom

 EPFO Starts Registration of Digital Signature of Employers

 Vodafone and ICICI Launches M-PESA Money Transfer in Bihar and Jharkhand

 Online Payment to JSY Beneficiary’s Account

 SRI LANKA: Telecom Licensed to Operate Fibre-Optic Backbone

 Sri Lanka E-Commerce to Grow Exponentially If Paypal Liberalized IT Industry

 Special Mobile Service to Issue Ids in Northern Province

 Govt to Conduct Census of Businesses and Services

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: E-Commerce Market Exceeds $1.1 Mln This Year

 Azerbaijan’s Online Market Quadruples over Five Years

 Azerbaijani Company Starts Digital Signature Issuance

 Azerbaijan to Fight Tax Evasion in E-Commerce

 Azerbaijan Gets Rise in E-Trade

 Azerbaijan Mobile Wallet Makes Debut

 Chip Production Expected in Azerbaijan

 KAZAKHSTAN: To Host International E-Commerce Conference-Exhibition Event

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: VIC Launches New ICT Procurement Register

 Australia Boosts Small Businesses with New E-resource Kit

 ICT Research Receives Massive $42 Million Boost

 Australia to Improve Central Bill Payment Service

 NEW ZEALAND: APEC-Wide Deal on E-Commerce Tax Avoidance Proposed

 Govt Says It'll Look into Online Shopping Tax

 ICT Contributing 5 Per cent of New Zealand’s GDP: Report

 

 

 

 Global Study Highlights Growth of Digital Journalism Ahead of Online Media Awards

 AFRICA: Ghana - 459 Schools Get ICT Laboratories, Internet Access

 EUROPE: Connected Continent? Three-Quarters Have No 4G Access!

 Europe Loves Wi-Fi: New Study Recommends More Spectrum Should Be Made Available

 ESTONIA: Top 5 e-Services in 2013

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada Rolls Out ePassports

 Canada Still Doesn't Lead in Wireless Pricing: Study

 Online Voting May Become Reality for Ontario, Canada

 U.S.: Why Lowa State Adopted a Cloud Phone System

 IT Can't Fix Complex Healthcare Problems

 Online Accessibility Is More Complicated Than It Seems

 Can Libraries Survive the E-Book Revolution?

 California Gets First Test of Cellphone Alert System

 Millions Still Not Using Internet Despite Wide U.S. Availability

 

 

 CHINA: Nation Expected to Be Top 3-D Printing Market

 China's 'Smart City' Being Created in Hefei

 Organization Calls for Clean Web Content

 Weibo Draws More Than Just Locals

 More Chinese Access the Internet Via Smartphones

 Efforts Stepped Up to Curb Fraudulent ID Card Use

 JAPAN: Network to Share Medical Info

 Japan Seniors Adopting E-Books Faster Than Young Adults

 SOUTH KOREA: Bring in Fastest Wireless Network

 Wirelessly Recharged Electric Bus Rolls Out

 NORTH KOREA: Unveiling 'Secure, Homemade' Smartphone

 

 

 INDONESIA: Launching National Emergency Hotline

 MALAYSIA: To Introduce Automatic System for Birth Registration

 PHILIPPINES: City Beefs Up Public Safety Operation with Intelligent Tools

 Philippine Geohazard Mapping Identifies Areas Prone to Natural Disasters

 More Filipinos Use Cellphones as "Mobile Computers": Study

 The Philippines Rolls Out E-Learning Solutions in Public Schools

 Electronic Registration System for Filipino Domestic Workers

 SINGAPORE: To Make Financial Statements of All Charities Available Online

 Singapore Library Uses Analytics to Forecast Demand

 THAILAND: Launching Medical Call Centre for Citizens with Impairments

 Thailand Covers Border City with Free Wi-Fi

 Thailand Introduces Software to Reveal Air Pollution

 Thai Hospital Adopts M-Health Solution

 Thailand Launches ASEAN Community e-Classroom

 400,000 Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Thailand by 2014

 New Police Website for Transfer Requests

 VIETNAM: City Reviews Pilot Trial of Digital Mapping Project

 Online Hotel Booking Service Going Strong

 City's Rapid Transport System to Be Ready in 2017

 

 

 INDIA: Railway to Launch SMS Grievance Redressal System

 Goa Government to Provide e-Notepads to Students

 Farmers in Odisha Gets Mobile Phones

 India Launches First Navigation Satellite

 Web Portal to Ensure Online Insurance for Farmers

 All India Radio to Launch SMS Based News Services

 Department of Food & Public Distribution Launches Electronic Transfer of Funds

 President Launches SMS Portal for Farmers

 Online Ticket System to Visit Rashtrapati Bhavan

 Maharashtra Becomes First State to Link UID with Employee Salaries

 EDMC Plans Electronic System to Monitor Solid Waste

 Aadhaar Enabled Know Your Customer Process Becomes Paperless

 SRI LANKA: Mobitel Mobile 4G Services Live

 Sri Lanka Car Owners to Renew License Through Phone

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: Broader E-signature Use Expected

 Urban Smart Grid First Formed in Azerbaijani City for Diversification of Energy Tariffs

 Successful Development of E-Services in Azerbaijan Draws Interest from Abroad

 IRAN: Creating National E-Mail Service

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: E-Health Sign-up Target 'In Sight'

 Australian State Uses Digital Tech to Connect with Youth

 Queensland Seeks ICT-as-a-Service Under New Plan

 Australia Expands e-Health Record Programme

 Australian Government Fast-Tracks Mobile Services

 Queensland Begins Planning New Health Payroll System

 NEW ZEALAND: Open Data Benefits Public and Economy

 

 

 

 Internet Society Statement on the Importance of Open Global Dialogue Regarding Online Privacy

 The Pirate Bay Launches Pirate Browser to Circumvent Internet Censors

 AFRICA: Everybody in Africa Has Been a Cyber Crime Victim

 EUROPE: Belarus Internet Infested with Spammers

 Estonian Children Most at Risk Online in Europe

 Opinion: Cyber-Reconnaissance in the Battle Against Lithuania

 U.K. Losing Battle Against Cyber Crime

 NORTH AMERICA: Canada’s Privacy Watchdog Calls for Sharper Teeth in Digital Age

 Should Canadians Worry About Data Snooping?

 How Ontario Faces Big Data Privacy Challenges

 Canadian Organizations Lag in Security

 U.S.: Administration Declassifies Information to Defend Citizen Spying Programs

 What's Wrong with Cybersecurity Training?

 Inside the Civic Hacking Movement

 Can State and Local Govs Benefit from the U.S. Commerce Department's Cybersecurity Program?

 Senate Signals Piecemeal Approach on Cybersecurity

 California Launches Cybersecurity Task Force

 Cybercrime Costs the US $20 Billion Each Year. or $70 Billion. or Maybe $140 Billion

 Cybersecurity, Big Data Among Mission-Critical Topics for CIOs

 

 

 CHINA: Victim of Hacking Attacks

 Police Crack Down on Web Crimes

 Security in Cyberspace 'Still Major Problem'

 Smartphones Easy Game for Hackers

 China Falling Short on IT Security: Survey

 Online Personal Data Thefts on the Rise

 JAPAN: Cyberthreats Surpass 1 Million in FY12

 Cybercrime Probes Must Change

 Info Security Put Aside at Ministries

 Big Data in Legal Pitfall Over Consumer Privacy Protection

 Police Detect 23 Cases of Illegal Online Campaigning; No Arrests Made

 Online Bank Theft Increasing Rapidly

 SOUTH KOREA: Presidential Office's Website Shut Down After Apparent Hacking Attack

 S. Korean Media, Gov't Hit by Another Cyber Attack

 Gov't to Nurture Cyber Security Manpower

 S. Korea Confronts Uphill Battle Against Hackers

 CounterTack Introduces Sentinel to Help Korea Defend Against Cyber Attacks

 NORTH KOREA: Websites Targeted by Int'l Hacking Offline

 North Korea Creates Cyber Troll Army

 

 

 INDONESIA: Planning to Build Up "Cyber Army"

 MALAYSIA: State to Upgrade ICT Security Capabilities

 SINGAPORE: Putting Online News Websites Under New Licensing Framework

 Singapore Teams Up with Private Sector to Train Cyber Security Workforce

 Public Transportation, Utilities, Banking Systems to Be Watched by Cyber Security Lab

 THAILAND: Launching Campaign Against Cyber Attacks

 Thailand's ICT Authority Promotes Research on Cyber Security

 VIETNAM: Hi-Tech Crime Fighters Handed Award

 

 

 INDIA: New Cyber Security Architecture to Safeguard Cyber Space

 Government Releases National Cyber Security Policy

 

 

 AZERBAIJAN: E-Security Center to Be Launched Soon

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: Government to Review Digital Privacy Protection

 QLD Releases Crime Statistics Online

 Australia Unveils New Cloud Security Policy

 Australia Launches National Plan to Combat Cybercrime

 NEW ZEALAND: Whole-of-government Approach Needed to Security - IITP

 

 

 

 Demand Drives WiFi Hotspots to 6.3 Million in '13

 More Competition Essential for Future of Mobile Innovation, Says OECD

 Frost & Sullivan Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence at 2013 Asia Pacific ICT Awards

 AFRICA: Nigeria - Govt Targets 60% Rural Telephone Penetration, 7.5% ICT Contribution to GDP

 EUROPE: Denmark Sees Highest Share of Mobile Page Views

 Russia’s Yandex Launches ‘Islands’ Tool

 NORTH AMERICA: Canadian Innovation Exchange Opens Top 20 Contest for 2013

 Canadian Universities Lag in IP Development: Study

 U.S.: Breaking Down the 2014 IT Budget Request

 U.S. Moves Ahead of Europe in Mobile Technology - Study

 California Announces Private Cloud Offering for 2014

 New York City Top-Level Domain Approved

 Obama Reboots Technology Mission to Improve Government

 2013 Digital Counties Survey Winners Announced

 Tackling the Greatest Digital Divide

 Is There an IT-acquisition Generation Gap?

 

 

 CHINA: Millennials Become the Smartphone Generation

 Big Data Offers a Goldmine

 IT Push Aims to Boost Domestic Demand

 China Expects Nationwide Broadband by 2020

 Faster Broadband by 2015

 JAPAN: ICT Making Inroads into More Schools

 SOUTH KOREA: Ranks No. 1 in the World in Smartphone Penetration Rate

 Korea, China to Upgrade Cooperation in ICT, Cyber Security

 Seoul Hosts 2013 Cyberspace Conference

 Largest Network of Asian Civic Groups to Kick Off in Seoul

 

 

 INDONESIA: Promoting Use of GIS for Economic Development

 PHILIPPINES: Adopting Indonesia’s Open Source Disaster Mitigation Tool

 SINGAPORE: Begins Migration to G-Cloud

 Government Calls for New Tenders to Manage IT Services and Infrastructure

 Singapore-Brunei Agreement on ICT Training

 THAILAND: Introducing Mobile SOS Software

 

 

 INDIA: Aadhaar Opens New Opportunities for IT Firms

 SRI LANKA: ICT Key to Reforms – Finance Ministry

 Earnings from IT Sector Grow by 22.9%

 PAKISTAN: Mobile Phone Imports Decrease 10.8pc in FY 12-13

 

 

 Azerbaijani Official Cites Scientific Potential to Boost ICT Sector

 ICT Development Discussed in Baku

 Azerbaijani Capital to Host International ICT Conference in October

 ICT Ministry Promotes Innovative Ideas of Young Developers

 WB Expects Azerbaijan to Turn into Regional ICT Center

 Azerbaijan's ICT Sector Posts 10.5 Pct Growth in First Half-Year

 Azerbaijan's Major ICT Developments Discussed in Washington

 Azerbaijani ICT Experience May Be Useful to Eastern Partnership Countries

 Azerbaijan, US Discuss ICT Cooperation

 TURKMENISTAN: Bowing to Internet Age

 

 

 AUSTRALIA: ICT Sector to Expand but Skills Not There, Says Government

 NEW ZEALAND: IT Sector Offsets Low Pay by Showing Appreciation

 ICT Sector Expanding, Skilled Workers Missing

 

 

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In the World of Internet Policy, Online Freedom Hangs in the Balance

 

Editor’s Note: Mike Godwin is Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Internet Policy Project of Internews, an international non-profit media development organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard. Leave it to the National Security Agency and the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to put the “spook” back in “spooky.” In recent weeks, the general public has learned what many of us specialists have long known, which is that vast swaths of the communications of ordinary citizens have been swept into intrusive dragnets, and, the legal framework for all this snooping is itself the product of a secret body of law generated by a secret special court. Yet these revelations of how much the US government has been spying on its population shouldn’t be so shocking given that the underlying law – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – has been in place since 1978. If the digital era has empowered ordinary citizens to do and say more online, it’s also made us more vulnerable to privacy intrusions of all kinds – and digital technologies empower governments at least as much as they empower the rest of us. But that is precisely the silver lining to the NSA story. It has alerted the public that the law and policy shaping the Internet have significance for all of us, not just for lawmakers.

 

It wasn’t always clear that cyberpolicy would loom quite so large in our daily lives. When I started practicing “Internet law” in 1990, traditional legal scholars doubted there was enough legal matter in cyberspace to even cause concern.. At the same time, technologists often talked glibly about how tools like ubiquitous personal computers would make the need for resolving legal and policy issues a thing of the past; everybody would be empowered to participate in public dialogue, a kind of direct democracy leaving lawmakers and bureaucrats in the dust of irrelevance. Both assumptions were wrong. Cyberpolicy is more relevant than ever, because cyberspace has rapidly become a central staging area for political participation in the modern era. For proof look no further than to Italy and the United States. Inboth countries in 2012, repressive legislation led Wikimedian activists to protest by temporarily shutting down access to Wikipedia. It also led to new dialogues between governments, internet companies and civil society organizations. In both instances, legislators withdrew the proposed laws. The NSA brouhaha and the Wikipedia blackouts have underlined the ongoing tensions modern governments face: how can governments safeguard security, intellectual property, and other rights of citizens while fully protecting online privacy and freedom of expression? To one degree or another, this is a drama that is now playing out in countries around the world.

 

In fact, we are at a pivotal moment in which many developing countries are hashing out their internet and communications policies. While many nations are committed to online freedom – or at least say they are – quite a few are working to rein in free expression or to impose ubiquitous surveillance that exceeds even the NSA’s ambitions. Both new nations and old ones are rushing to update their laws for the digital era; there is a narrow window of opportunity to shape the digital future before these internet policy regimes are set into law. So this is precisely the time for policy activists in emerging and transitional nations to focus on building the legal framework under which freedom of expression – both traditional and online – can play its proper role in a democratic society. In developing and transitional democracies, it has become apparent that if you don’t have a strong consensus about what it means to have free media, it doesn’t matter how slick your digital tools are. Notwithstanding the so-called “Twitter revolutions,” this is a hard fact that activists in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and East Asia are learning the hard way these days. We know social media and encryption are not the answer to every free speech and privacy problem. While governments often give lip service to a free press, freedom of speech, and political engagement, they may also simultaneously pass laws and enact policies that undermine those very values.

 

These policy threats can take many forms. Two critical examples: (1) sometimes a new government, feeling its own fragility, wants to build a widespread surveillance infrastructure into the country’s internet services; and (2) sometimes politicians and wealthy citizens realize that newly empowered Internet users can use digital platforms and tools to criticize the powers-that-be, so they deploy defamation laws and court cases to chilling effect. For better or worse, the hard work of policy development doesn’t lend itself to street protests or tweets alone – and most policy problems can’t be solved by staging a Wikipedia blackout in the absence of deep engagement in a sustained multi-stakeholder approach. It turns out that cyberpolicy advocacy is less like programming a computer or stringing a wire than building a marriage: it hinges on creating and maintaining trusted relationships and transparent dialogue. What it really takes is face-to-face meetings between citizen advocates and policymakers, reasoning together, and creating a shared understanding of what freedom and privacy should mean on the internet, regardless of the tools we happen to be using.

 

In my work with Internews’ Global Internet Policy Project, I help strengthen the ability of civil society organizations to work towards humane, progressive internet policy in their countries. In policy discussions, these ordinary citizens and brave activists and lawyers are learning how to make their voices heard by their governments as well as by the institutional stakeholders who have traditionally had a monopoly on government’s ears. I have seen firsthand that what emerges from a mature process of policy advocacy is dialogue and colloquy in which all stakeholders — including government ministries, internet activists, journalists, bloggers, civil society groups, telcom and internet service providers — recognize the value of other points of view and find solutions. A.J. Liebling famously said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” The key fact of the modern digital era is that, increasingly, everyone owns one. The citizens who capture violence in the street with a camera-enabled phone are practicing journalism. So are the bloggers who publish with only a laptop and a Tumblr account. And when I lived in downtown Oakland during the 2011 Occupy Oakland protests, I knew that people who were live-tweeting police movements and crowd actions were honoring the noblest tradition of journalism: to bear witness.

 

The rising tide of citizen journalism and a plethora of citizen voices makes many governments uncomfortable, especially those with a tradition of muzzling the press. Controlling your critics is easier with censorship, with the introduction of online media restrictions, and limited broadcast licences. and broadcasters. So when everyone is, effectively, a newspaper or radio station or reporter, a newer, more fragile, or simply nervous government may find reason to panic. Here civil society plays an essential role in media policy: it’s to stop governments from panicking and adopting repressive policies that undermine privacy and that squelch a free media of all kinds,  (including any built by a blogger with a Facebook or WordPress account). To nurture good internet policy, public protests or legal actions may be the start of the dialog, but they can’t be the end of it. Instead, advocates of an open and free internet need to learn how to keep governments calm in the face of rapid digital democratization. In effect, they must become their own kind of institutional resource for ensuring free expression and privacy online. In the process, civil society groups can legitimize the whole process of engagement, so that their governments see them as resources and partners, not just adversaries. .

 

Success will mean that internet governance is not just for the governors anymore, and that internet policy is not just for policymakers. And it will underscore the plain reality that journalism is not just for journalists any more. In today’s digital democracies, where each of us could play any of these roles, the most valuable help we can offer those who are advocating for good policy on our behalf is the recognition that we each have a direct personal stake in freedom of the press, which nowadays is as universal and individual as freedom of speech. This means activists have to look beyond digital technologies and protest tactics to secure long-term policy frameworks that protect online expression and privacy. The sooner we achieve international social consensus about this, the sooner we will understand how to manage the complex blend of individual privileges and responsibilities that come with life in the digital age.

From http://www.forbes.com/ 07/21/2013

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Expansion of IT Pact to Boost Global Economy: APEC Officials

 

Expanding the number of information technology products exempt from tariffs will provide a much-needed boost to the global economy and contribute to opening markets and facilitating regional trade, say APEC officials. The case for expansion under an existing World Trade Organization sectoral agreement was laid out by public and private sector experts on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur during an APEC workshop on the advancement of trade in IT products. “Now, it is time to strengthen the Information Technology Agreement to reflect changes in technology and market demand since it was brokered in 1997 with critical support from APEC economies,” said Mohd Ridzal Sheriff, Deputy Secretary General at Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. “A breakthrough on the expansion of product coverage is within reach,” Ridzal added. “The implementation of an updated agreement could significantly boost global trade and widen access to innovations that are revolutionizing business and improving people’s daily lives.”

 

World trade of products included in the Information Technology Agreement tripled between 1996 and 2011 to USD1.47 trillion, according to an APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) brief. But these products’ share in total trade declined from 11.3 percent to 9.9 percent during this same period. “APEC research indicates that a large number of duty-free IT products such as word processors and fax machines have become obsolete or undergone a sharp drop in demand,” said Peter Cheah, Chair of the APEC Market Access Group. “At the same time, many products and transformational technologies that today account for a sizeable amount of world trade fall outside the scope of the agreement.” “Our goal is to support ITA expansion as well as to institute a mechanism to ensure that a revised agreement is able to keep pace with innovation and market trends,” Cheah explained. “APEC is playing a leading role to enhance understanding of IT development and the need for greater liberalization, particularly among customs officials, regulators and stakeholders.” Products that are absent from the existing Information Technology Agreement range from DVDs, MP3 and MP4 players to global positioning systems. Multifunctional units such as LCD screens, printer-scanner-copiers, smart phones and tablet computers are also beyond its reach.

 

“The current process of ITA product expansion is reflective of demand from within the global information and communications technologies industry and the need for the WTO to better address firms’ changing business requirements,” said Tang Xiaobing, a market access counselor at the World Trade Organization. “Support from APEC economies can help to conclude the negotiations and encourage greater participation in an expanded agreement by the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December,” Tang noted. “Such progress would benefit IT companies around the world, particularly the many small businesses that produce component parts as well as those seeking to move higher up the global production value chain.” There are currently 76 participants in the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement who trade about 97 percent of the world’s information technology products. APEC economies alone account for 80 percent of this activity. Seventeen of them are signatories of the agreement. The workshop will conclude on Friday. It is co-sponsored by Chinese Taipei, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/20/2013

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U.S.: Enhancing Public Access to Legal Data

 

Using a $600,000 grant, the Oyez Project will digitize legal materials of State Supreme and Federal Appellate Courts. In a few years, simplified case summaries, judicial opinions and audio recordings from all federal appellate and state supreme courts could be accessible at the touch of a button. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will spearhead the effort, aggregating documents and media from courts in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. The information will be reformatted and republished online following open practice standards. Once the project is complete, content will be more accessible to non-legal audiences, including journalists and the general public. The remainder of state supreme and federal appellate courts in the U.S. will receive a similar treatment over the next five years provided additional funding is raised. The audio recordings and digital content will be available through individual websites for each court and a mobile app.

 

Helping to fund the work is a $600,000 prize that the  Oyez Project received   as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The foundation works to promote media innovation by funding innovative ideas in news and information. The Oyez Project previously digitized U.S. Supreme Court documents from as far back as 1955, including an audio archive containing approximately 14,000 hours of court deliberation spanning roughly 6 million words. Leading the new project is Jerry Goldman, Oyez Project director and a professor with the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Goldman felt tackling the written and audio content of all the nation’s appellate courts would make covering the courts easier for journalists, and give the public a better understanding of judges and legal decisions. “They are men and women with values and judgments, and sometimes they make good calls -- and I bet they make a few bad ones too,” Goldman said. “I think we have a duty as citizens to understand what they do, rather than say … ‘that’s someone of Polish decent and my family came from Poland so I am going to cast my vote for her.’ That really is what I want to overcome by improving ease of access to the work of the courts.”

 

First Steps

The project will require a great deal of teamwork between the Oyez Project and volunteers. The grant funding will enable Goldman to create a consortium of local partners from law schools to provide plain English case summaries, abstracts and biographical sketches of federal appellate and state Supreme Court judges. The Oyez Project team will build the both the websites and the mobile application for both iOS and Android devices for access to the content. A prototype model of what the website will look like is already online, containing data from The Washington State Supreme Court. That site was built using WordPress, but the new project will operate using Drupal as a content management system. Matt Gruhn, associate director of the Oyez Project, explained that users will see individual websites for each court. But “under the hood,” all the data will live in the same digital repository, enabling advanced querying of data across multiple jurisdictions. In the next few months, the Oyez Project will reach out to law schools to gauge their interest in being part of the new project. Goldman said he hopes to get a couple of schools interested, which in turn should snowball into more wanting to be involved as the effort will get them noticed by the state judiciary. In addition, the archival work could help enhance a law school’s brand and reputation to help drive prospective student and professor interest in attending or teaching at the institution. “It’s another way for a law school to distinguish itself from its competitors,” Goldman said. “It’s hard for me to see the downside here, especially since we’re doing all the hard work.”

 

Challenges Ahead

When working on the U.S. Supreme Court project, the major challenge for Goldman and his team over the last 20 years was going back 58 years to collect audio recordings in different states of decay from the National Archives and transferring it. Many of those same research and aggregation steps will exist with the federal appellate and state supreme courts, but the work will focus largely on material from current years, so it won’t take as long. A number of hurdles still exist, however. Many courts use obsolete word processing software to archive transcripts, making cataloging and transferring to one standardized format difficult. In some cases, the courts have transcribed their own audio and identified the speakers, making the process easier. But that’s a best case scenario -- and one that’s usually not the case, according to Goldman. As a result, a much larger amount of time and effort needs to be spent on the recordings. Some courts have also recorded legal proceedings in proprietary formats or in sub-standard quality such as .mp3, which further complicates matters. Recording in low fidelity runs counter to the archival goals of the Oyez Project, which looks to archive the actual source audio without any loss in quality. Although the files will be enormous, with cloud technology available, size really doesn’t matter.

 

Goldman explained that courts throw away a lot of data by using recording formats with lossy compression,  such as .mp3.  He argued that as time goes on and newer delivery standards come around that are incompatible with .mp3, there’s no way to go back and recover a lossless format to convert into a new standard. So the quality will continually degenerate. That’s why preserving uncompressed audio data is so important. The pristine source audio is also desired to enhance the quality of mobile access to the recordings. The Oyez Project made the U.S. Supreme Court recordings mobile-friendly by creating a live stream that can be accessed by smartphone. They took the large recordings and cut them down into very small segments, enabling a user to search for specific parts of a legal proceeding. The content can also be downloaded, but by using the ISCOTUS NOW app, a person can make clips of the segments to use for various purposes. The same is planned for federal appellate court and state supreme court recordings, but maintaining quality can be difficult, particularly if the source audio isn’t at an archival level. “I suspect we will face those issues, and then we will have to struggle with how we make those materials publicly available and archivally-sound so that going forward, we can always make a conversion,” Goldman said. “I just have to do more preaching because I am not getting through to my parishioners about the importance of preservation and being able to make this accessible 50 or 100 years from now."

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/18/2013

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ESTONIA: Top 5 e-Services in 2013

 

For the fifth time, the Estonian Information System’s Authority organized a competition for best Estonian e-services. This year 77 projects participated in the competition, and winners were elected in five categories. The aim of the competition was to introduce innovative e-services and e-solutions, but also their customers and developers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. The winner of the competition will be participating in World Summit Award. Who were the winners?

 

1. TransferWise — Overall Best e-Service, Best e-Business Service

TransferWise is a money transfer service launched by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus. The service allows people to send money abroad at the lowest possible true cost, so they can avoid paying considerably big fees to banks for the transactions. In two years, TransferWise has grown to include 36 currency directions and has transferred more than 125 million British pounds of their customers’ money. But it’s not only customers they have attracted, but also very impressive investors. The latest investment round for TransferWise in the beginning of May included PayPal’s and Facebook’s investor Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, and the startup received an endorsement by Richard Branson in April. TransferWise’s future plans include expanding their currency coverage and working on mobile solutions in the near future. They are definitely a service to keep an eye on.

 

2. GoSwift — Best e-Government Service

GoSwift – an online reservation system for border crossing – is setting a new standard for border crossing, not only in Estonia but also the whole region. Lithuania is planning to start using the GoSwift system starting in June 2013. GoSwift has been operating the border queues of vehicles at the Estonian-Russian border for almost two years. The GoSwift electronic border queue system has also been successfully implemented in the direction of Russia to Estonia. The GoSwift electronic border queue system was developed in Estonia in 2011 at the request of the Ministry of the Interior. During development, GoSwift cooperated closely with the Association of Estonian International Road Carriers.

 

3. Ennemuistne — Best e-Culture Service

Ennemuistne is a free online game inspired by Estonian folklore that can be used as an entertaining addition to the national high-school curriculum. It is a fun and interactive way for teenagers to learn about ancient times in Estonia and to enrich the knowledge gained from school lessons. The game is still in the development phase, but the creators aim to improve it through feedback from actual players. This way, they’re seeking to better respond to expectations for a game that is educational and still fun to play. Ennemuistne is developed by the videogames company Frostnova, and development started in 2011.

 

4. TipTheAuthors — Best e-Entertainment Service

TipTheAuthors is a platform for selling films online. The idea was first formed at the beginning of 2012 during Garage48 – an Estonian-born startup event where ideas are turned into working services or prototypes within a time limit of 48 hours. The platform aims to provide an easy way of legally buying films online and thus counter the issue of piracy. Hence their slogan — “movie downloads for honest people”. According to Margus Pala, one of the creators of TipTheAuthors, a successful e-service has to create value for the users and answer their needs. And even in the case of fierce competition on the market of selling and streaming films online, it’s the flexibility of a small company that might lead to success. In the near future, TipTheAuthors is hoping to offer their services on different movie downloading sites where users are already used to downloading content. They are also constantly working on increasing the number of movies in their catalogue.

 

5. Hooandja — Best e-Involvement Service

Hooandja is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects, borrowing it’s idea from the US-born Kickstarter. It’s a place where good ideas meet consumers/clients. Every project on Hooandja presents itself with an introductory video that clearly explains the purpose and requirements of the project. A project can gather funding for 2–8 weeks. However, one of the main rules of Hooandja is the requirement to achieve 100% of the targeted funding — if the project fails to gain that support, all the money is given back to the supporters. Hooandja has been in use since summer 2012. Since then, they have managed to fund creative projects totaling over 100,000 euros. These projects have included books by local authors, CD or vinyl albums by local musicians, but also theatrical events and design projects. Crowdfunding is clearly becoming a trend within the creative community. It also creates a new way of communication and closeness between creators and their audience.

From http://e-estonia.com/ 06/04/2013

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CHINA: Announces 9 Pilot 'Smart Cities'

 

As China accelerates the pace of its urbanization, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation unveiled its Smart City program on Tuesday with the first nine selected pilot cities."The first nine cities are expected to finish Smart City construction within about three years and it will gradually expand to the whole country," said Li Weisen, deputy director of the administration.The nine cities are Taiyuan in Shanxi, Guangzhou in Guangdong, Xuzhou and Wuxi in Jiangsu, Linyi and Zibo in Shandong, Zhengzhou in Henan, Chongqing, and Huhan in Hubei. Every pilot city will invest more than 36 million yuan ($5.8 million) in the program each year.The Smart City program aims to create an innovation network, optimizing the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings in a way that meets the city's current and future demands.Li believed that the program will trigger a potential market of more than 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion)."The Smart City program will be the solution to problems such as traffic congestion and pollution arising from rapid urbanization," Li said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 08/13/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t to Widen Administrative Data Transparency

 

The Korean government will broaden the disclosure of administrative information except in cases of national security or personal privacy starting in 2014. President Park Geun-hye and heads of government organizations announced a basic plan called the “Government 3.0” vision which allows wider public access to government data. This initiative refers to the Park Geun-hye administration’s government reform drive to boost transparency, information sharing, communication, and cooperation in overall state affairs management.  “Government 3.0 goes beyond the information disclosure,” said President Park at a ceremony held at the Central Government Complex in Seoul on June 19. “This means a paradigm change in all state affairs which pursues people-centered management from the existing state-centered one.” Under the announced plan, public access will be broadened to administrative data collected by all government organizations, including central and regional governments, state-run committees, and state-invested institutions, starting next year. This vision will apply to all forms of administrative information in all stages of the policy-making process from preparation to implementation. So far, public access was allowed to only 0.3 percent of the total administrative data and only lists of documents were available unless an applicant submits disclosure requests. 

Under the initiative, the government will extend the scope of public data disclosure to 6,150 items by 2017 from the existing 2,260 items. Public organizations will also raise the disclosure scale of the predicted number of 15,700 source data items to 40 percent by 2017 from the current level of 14 percent. The government will set up an online participation channel composed of ordinary citizens and experts in the decision-making process. It will also widen public access to administrative data from the government and public organizations for people, firms, and institutions to share and use for commercial purposes. To this aim, the government will open administrative information to the public in climate, transport, welfare, finance, and geography, all of which receive a high number of disclosure requests from the private sector. It will also make a five-year information disclosure roadmap based on the total inspection of administrative data owned by public organizations. The government expects that the widened public access to information disclosure will generate 150,000 jobs and create an economic effect worth KRW 24 trillion. To this goal, the government will make detailed support plans to implement administrative information disclosure and form a cooperative structure involving related government bodies -- the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, and the Small and Medium Business Administration.  To boost accuracy of information, the government will upgrade the quality of administrative data and create an integrated data provision channel online (data.go.kr) in order to enhance public access.  Minister of Security and Public Administration Yoo Jeong-bok said that the Government 3.0 vision “reflects the [Park Geun-hye administration’s] will to boost transparency of government data and state affairs management.” 

From http://www.korea.net 06/20/2013

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VIETNAM: To Implement E-Assessment for Civil Servant Performance

 

Department of Home Affairs, Da Nang City, Vietnam will start the electronic assessment for performance of civil servants, starting from July 1, after a successful result from the pilot programme. Each public official including high ranking member will be assessed secretly by at least four subordinate from his or her office. The new e-assessment scheme will also cover directors, deputy directors of state departments, chairs and vice chairs of districts, the chief and vice chief of other state agencies and all public servants of state agencies and district people’s committees in Da Nang. A specialised software will be installed to proceed the digital evaluation that will cover three main categories of objectives and tasks assigned, the results based on actual products, and comments from civil servants of the same unit. Director of the Department of Home Affairs Dang Cong Ngu said this electronic mode of evaluation aimed to better manage human resources, helping to evaluate the work of the staff honestly and effectively.

 

“The advantage of the model is to promote openness, democracy by taking the actual working results as a measure. Also, public servants will be evaluated from various angles,” he saeid. Ngu also added that this scheme is an opportunity for public servants to listen to comments, suggestions from their colleagues to improve work efficiency. Each individual will be asked to score himself at work, attitude, responsibility and is then assessed by his boss. After that, colleagues from the same agency will provide comments on one another. The staff will be allowed to secretly assess their bosses, and the final marks will be maded by the higher-level officials. The result of this performance assessment will be monitored monthly and quarterly, and will be used as a basis for the annual evaluation. If an officer cannot fulfil his or her task for two consecutive years, he or she will be fired. The result of the assessment will be used for emulation and commendation, income distribution and allocation of administrative expenses. During July and September 2012, Da Nang City piloted the e-assessment at seven departments and three districts. The trial project involved 250 participants.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/04/2013

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SINGAPORE: Teaming Up with Private Sector to Train Cyber Security Workforce

 

Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) joined forces with private sector in multi-year agreement for training and workforce development of young Singaporean cyber security professionals. The announcement of the agreement between the EDB and RSA — the security Division of EMC and the provider of cyber security solutions, was made today at RSA Conference APAC 2013, showing an effort to train Singaporean candidates for careers in cyber security, and combating online fraud. “The collaboration would lead to the creation of good jobs for Singaporeans and creates a readily available talent pool for companies to tap when they setup operations in Singapore,” said Gian Yi-Hsen, Director of Safety & Security Industry Programme Office (SSIPO), EDB. Gian explained that his office is focused on developing and strengthening the local and global talent pool to meet the global demand for cyber security professionals. Therefore, the training done by RSA is strongly aligned with our talent development objectives and we are very glad to collaborate together with them.

 

The EDB and RSA will seek qualified graduates from Singapore universities and existing cyber security professionals to take part in a multi-year residency and repatriation program designed to train candidates with the latest skills needed for cyber security and anti-fraud careers. Selected candidates will be enrolled in one or two year residency training rotations at the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center (AFCC) in Israel through a new grant programme administered by the EDB. They will be working alongside RSA cyber security professionals and anti-fraud research analysts to gain advanced skills required to fight cybercrime and advanced cyber threats in areas such as: • Phishing, pharming and Trojan attack detection, analysis and shutdown • Ecommerce and online banking fraud • Security management and monitoring • Breach preparedness and incident response • Governance, Risk and Compliance

 

The training programme will be administered by the EDB in cooperation with RSA, to provide candidates to RSA’s world-class cyber security and RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center (AFCC) located outside Tel Aviv, Israel. This training initiative is part of EDB’s Strategic Attachment and Training (STRAT) Programme, which aims to build up Singapore’s manpower capabilities in strategic areas and sectors through overseas training and attachment with leading companies. The programme also builds on RSA’s own multi-pronged efforts around the world to help actively develop skilled cyber security professionals through its RSA Conferences, academic alliances with educational institutions, such as Purdue University, cyber security certification offerings through RSA Education Services. Also, a new advanced cyber defense training curriculum will be offered in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security.

 

Qualified candidates will return to Singapore and be eligible for placement in cyber security or anti-fraud analyst positions at RSA or within the cyber security industry in Singapore. The RSA will open the application process for the cyber security residency programme in the third quarter of 2013. The RSA AFCC operated at facilities in Israel and the United States, is a 24x7 services operation staffed by expertly trained cyber security professionals and fraud analysts who work to detect, track, block and shut down phishing, pharming and mobile-app based attacks perpetrated by online criminals. The RSA AFCC leverages relationships with more than 13,000 web hosting service providers, leading browser developers and ISPs to help ensure the fastest blocking and shut down of phishing sites. To date the RSA FraudAction service has shut down more than 800,000 online attacks globally.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/05/2013

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INDIA: Government Releases National Cyber Security Policy

 

Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Communications and IT released the National Cyber Security Policy. He underlined that this policy should be seen as about protecting of information, such as personal information, financial/banking information, sovereign data etc. He said that information empowers, and in order to empower people with information, we need to secure the information. He also flagged the need to distinguish between data which can freely flow and data which needs to be protected. Sibal pointed out that the real challenge is in the operationalisation of this policy. He also stated that the government, through incentives and subsidies will need to support Small and Medium Enterprises for accessing the technology to make their systems safe. The “National Cyber Security Policy” has been prepared in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, user entities and public.

 

The new policy aims at facilitating creation of secure computing environment and enabling adequate trust and confidence in electronic transactions and also guiding stakeholder’s actions for protection of cyber space. The National Cyber Security Policy document outlines a road-map to create a framework for comprehensive, collaborative and collective response to deal with the issue of cyber security at all levels within the country. It recognises the need for objectives and strategies that need to be adopted both at the national level as well as international level.  It aims at building a secure and resilience cyber space for citizens, businesses and Government. Enabling goals aimed at reducing national vulnerability to cyber attacks, preventing cyber attacks & cyber crimes, minimising response & recover time and effective cyber crime investigation and prosecution.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/03/2013

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AUSTRALIA: Government Streamlines Big Data Strategy

 

The Australian government’s peak ICT policy agency, Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), has launched a new Australian Public Service Big Data Strategy. This launch underscores moves to better understand, use and share data held by agencies delivering front-line services, and holding vast repositories of information. This strategy’s launch coincides with an April 2013 opening of a whole-of-government Data Analytics Centre of Excellence by the Australian Taxation Office. This centre marks a sea change in the way volumes of government data is handled, accessed and managed. Among the trends, AGIMO notes that 90 per cent of the worldwide data was created in just the last two years. “Some estimate that data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Others estimate an additional 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being generated every day.”

 

Making sense of data

Big data as well as analytics and mining tools help end-users better analyse and make sense of the vast repositories of information. This is especially so for massive data banks held by agencies in Australia and globally. “Indeed, big data, as an emerging concept, intersects with many data management issues that pre-date this concept,” notes AGIMO. Big data management underscores the value of data held by Commonwealth agencies. These agencies carry a shared responsibility to realise – and fully deliver – the value of this data. Streamlined access to data also benefits citizens, while complying with privacy and security guidelines. AGIMO and member agencies aim to clarify what is meant by big data; how this intersects with the concept of data as an asset, and supports an open government environment. To deliver value, Commonwealth data, including that used for analytics projects, must be “authentic, accurate and reliable.” Big data incorporates the vast amount of data that is generated and captured in a variety of formats, and from many different and disparate sources. These repositories incorporate structured, semi-structured, unstructured or even incomplete data.

 

Data as a national asset

Governments generate massive volumes of data. This data is used for administration, policy development, and to interact with citizens. “It is part of the government’s responsibility to realise the value of this data and the information contained within it, and to recognise this data as a national asset to both the government and the Australian public.” Governments cannot realise this value without help from industry and academia. “As a result, Australia, along with many other advanced economies, is increasingly seeking to provide data to third parties for analysis, or to support the provision of services, for example through the development of mobile apps.”

 

Tackling privacy concerns

Under privacy guidelines, Australia will continue protecting individuals’ privacy rights. “Big data raises new challenges in respect to the privacy and security of data.” Data management policies are guided by relevant legislative controls. These laws and guidelines regulate government’s use and release of data sets and information. Agencies are encouraged to develop best-practices to link cross-agency data sets, as well as the use of third-party data sets, domestically and internationally. Any release of open data factors in privacy considerations. Data protection guidelines are upheld by Australia’s Data Protection Guidelines, among other privacy checks and balances.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/05/2013

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Declaring Internet Freedom for All

 

Earlier this year, a massive Internet blackout strike and millions of signatures on online petitions put pressure on Congress and defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), two bills that would have allowed the government and big media conglomerates to censor the web in the name of protecting copyrighted material. Now, the coalition of activists and groups that led the fight against SOPA and PIPA have issued a Declaration of Internet Freedom, and after only a few days of online circulation, more than 100 groups and more than 33,000 individuals have signed on in support. Truthout has decided to join them. There will be more SOPA-like threats to web freedom in the future. From Amnesty International to Mozilla and Cheezburger Inc., web entrepreneurs, developers and activists agree that the fight to protect the Internet from censorship, surveillance and discrimination is only beginning. As witnessed during the Arab Spring and the rise of the Occupy movement, the Internet gives grassroots social movements the ability to quickly organize big groups of people, share information, build solidarity and hold those in power accountable.

 

Allowing big business and the government to censor and regulate the web would also stifle innovation and give media conglomerates a competitive edge against entrepreneurs and start-ups. SOPA, for example, would have granted big media conglomerates the power to ask the government to investigate and even shut down innovating web start-ups if users used the platforms to post or share copyrighted content. The Declaration of Internet Freedom demands that leaders do not punish innovators for their users' actions. The Declaration of Internet Freedom also aims at protecting privacy, freedom of expression online, affordable access to the web and an open network "where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate." At Truthout, we believe freedom of speech online and everywhere else is a basic and vital human right. We must be proactive about protecting our freedoms online. Free Press, one of the groups promoting the declaration, hopes it will spark a "global discussion" about protecting the Internet in the future. The online discussion has already begun on sites like Cheezburger and Reddit.

From http://truth-out.org/ 07/19/2013

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In the World of Internet Policy, Online Freedom Hangs in the Balance

 

Editor’s Note: Mike Godwin is Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Internet Policy Project of Internews, an international non-profit media development organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard. Leave it to the National Security Agency and the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to put the “spook” back in “spooky.” In recent weeks, the general public has learned what many of us specialists have long known, which is that vast swaths of the communications of ordinary citizens have been swept into intrusive dragnets, and, the legal framework for all this snooping is itself the product of a secret body of law generated by a secret special court. Yet these revelations of how much the US government has been spying on its population shouldn’t be so shocking given that the underlying law – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – has been in place since 1978. If the digital era has empowered ordinary citizens to do and say more online, it’s also made us more vulnerable to privacy intrusions of all kinds – and digital technologies empower governments at least as much as they empower the rest of us. But that is precisely the silver lining to the NSA story. It has alerted the public that the law and policy shaping the Internet have significance for all of us, not just for lawmakers.

 

It wasn’t always clear that cyberpolicy would loom quite so large in our daily lives. When I started practicing “Internet law” in 1990, traditional legal scholars doubted there was enough legal matter in cyberspace to even cause concern.. At the same time, technologists often talked glibly about how tools like ubiquitous personal computers would make the need for resolving legal and policy issues a thing of the past; everybody would be empowered to participate in public dialogue, a kind of direct democracy leaving lawmakers and bureaucrats in the dust of irrelevance. Both assumptions were wrong. Cyberpolicy is more relevant than ever, because cyberspace has rapidly become a central staging area for political participation in the modern era. For proof look no further than to Italy and the United States. Inboth countries in 2012, repressive legislation led Wikimedian activists to protest by temporarily shutting down access to Wikipedia. It also led to new dialogues between governments, internet companies and civil society organizations. In both instances, legislators withdrew the proposed laws. The NSA brouhaha and the Wikipedia blackouts have underlined the ongoing tensions modern governments face: how can governments safeguard security, intellectual property, and other rights of citizens while fully protecting online privacy and freedom of expression? To one degree or another, this is a drama that is now playing out in countries around the world.

 

In fact, we are at a pivotal moment in which many developing countries are hashing out their internet and communications policies. While many nations are committed to online freedom – or at least say they are – quite a few are working to rein in free expression or to impose ubiquitous surveillance that exceeds even the NSA’s ambitions. Both new nations and old ones are rushing to update their laws for the digital era; there is a narrow window of opportunity to shape the digital future before these internet policy regimes are set into law. So this is precisely the time for policy activists in emerging and transitional nations to focus on building the legal framework under which freedom of expression – both traditional and online – can play its proper role in a democratic society. In developing and transitional democracies, it has become apparent that if you don’t have a strong consensus about what it means to have free media, it doesn’t matter how slick your digital tools are. Notwithstanding the so-called “Twitter revolutions,” this is a hard fact that activists in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and East Asia are learning the hard way these days. We know social media and encryption are not the answer to every free speech and privacy problem. While governments often give lip service to a free press, freedom of speech, and political engagement, they may also simultaneously pass laws and enact policies that undermine those very values.

 

These policy threats can take many forms. Two critical examples: (1) sometimes a new government, feeling its own fragility, wants to build a widespread surveillance infrastructure into the country’s internet services; and (2) sometimes politicians and wealthy citizens realize that newly empowered Internet users can use digital platforms and tools to criticize the powers-that-be, so they deploy defamation laws and court cases to chilling effect. For better or worse, the hard work of policy development doesn’t lend itself to street protests or tweets alone – and most policy problems can’t be solved by staging a Wikipedia blackout in the absence of deep engagement in a sustained multi-stakeholder approach. It turns out that cyberpolicy advocacy is less like programming a computer or stringing a wire than building a marriage: it hinges on creating and maintaining trusted relationships and transparent dialogue. What it really takes is face-to-face meetings between citizen advocates and policymakers, reasoning together, and creating a shared understanding of what freedom and privacy should mean on the internet, regardless of the tools we happen to be using.

 

In my work with Internews’ Global Internet Policy Project, I help strengthen the ability of civil society organizations to work towards humane, progressive internet policy in their countries. In policy discussions, these ordinary citizens and brave activists and lawyers are learning how to make their voices heard by their governments as well as by the institutional stakeholders who have traditionally had a monopoly on government’s ears. I have seen firsthand that what emerges from a mature process of policy advocacy is dialogue and colloquy in which all stakeholders — including government ministries, internet activists, journalists, bloggers, civil society groups, telcom and internet service providers — recognize the value of other points of view and find solutions. A.J. Liebling famously said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” The key fact of the modern digital era is that, increasingly, everyone owns one. The citizens who capture violence in the street with a camera-enabled phone are practicing journalism. So are the bloggers who publish with only a laptop and a Tumblr account. And when I lived in downtown Oakland during the 2011 Occupy Oakland protests, I knew that people who were live-tweeting police movements and crowd actions were honoring the noblest tradition of journalism: to bear witness.

 

The rising tide of citizen journalism and a plethora of citizen voices makes many governments uncomfortable, especially those with a tradition of muzzling the press. Controlling your critics is easier with censorship, with the introduction of online media restrictions, and limited broadcast licences. and broadcasters. So when everyone is, effectively, a newspaper or radio station or reporter, a newer, more fragile, or simply nervous government may find reason to panic. Here civil society plays an essential role in media policy: it’s to stop governments from panicking and adopting repressive policies that undermine privacy and that squelch a free media of all kinds,  (including any built by a blogger with a Facebook or WordPress account). To nurture good internet policy, public protests or legal actions may be the start of the dialog, but they can’t be the end of it. Instead, advocates of an open and free internet need to learn how to keep governments calm in the face of rapid digital democratization. In effect, they must become their own kind of institutional resource for ensuring free expression and privacy online. In the process, civil society groups can legitimize the whole process of engagement, so that their governments see them as resources and partners, not just adversaries. .

 

Success will mean that internet governance is not just for the governors anymore, and that internet policy is not just for policymakers. And it will underscore the plain reality that journalism is not just for journalists any more. In today’s digital democracies, where each of us could play any of these roles, the most valuable help we can offer those who are advocating for good policy on our behalf is the recognition that we each have a direct personal stake in freedom of the press, which nowadays is as universal and individual as freedom of speech. This means activists have to look beyond digital technologies and protest tactics to secure long-term policy frameworks that protect online expression and privacy. The sooner we achieve international social consensus about this, the sooner we will understand how to manage the complex blend of individual privileges and responsibilities that come with life in the digital age.

From http://www.forbes.com/ 07/21/2013

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AFRICA: Media Foundation Welcomes Internet Freedom Project

 

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has commenced what it intends to be a long-term advocacy to promote internet freedom in the West Africa region. The initiative is aimed at enhancing freedom of expression online by limiting governmental restrictions and increasing opportunities for greater access and use of the internet among citizens. Initial interventions under the project are being carried out in partnership with the London-based Global Partners and Associates (GPA) and focused on Ghana. Activities will include research on the internet environment, media and civil society capacity building in internet freedom and digital rights advocacy, and formation of national internet freedom coalitions. In line with its commitment to enhance internet freedom in the West Africa region, the MFWA, in partnership with the US-based Freedom House Inc., recently trained its freedom of expression rights monitors from 13 out of the 16 countries in the region. The training was aimed at enhancing the capacity of the monitors to effectively track and report on emerging freedom of expression rights issues with significant indicators on digital rights violations.

 

Current figures indicate that internet usage in Africa is increasing at an annual average rate of approximately 36 percent, predicting an overwhelming internet penetration and use in Africa within the next few decades. While the increasing internet penetration and use in Africa is viewed as a positive development, there is evidence of increasing resort to sophisticated and legal restrictions by several governments to limit citizens’ access and use of the internet. Methods of restriction have included surveillance, blocking of sites and the passage of new laws or application of existing ones, to restrict user anonymity, user privacy and general free expression online. Early this month for example, the Gambian government passed a new draconian legislation meant to stifle freedom online.  The new law (Information and Communication Act 2013), allows for a 15 year jail term and/or a whopping US$90,000 fine for the offence of “publication of false news” about the government on the internet.

 

In Nigeria, the regions biggest economy and Africa’s leader in internet penetration and use, there are a number of draft laws – generally considered restrictive – meant to regulate various aspects of the internet and its use. There are ongoing processes to finalise and have those laws in place. There have been similar and ongoing attempts by many other governments in the region to resort to legislative processes to limit internet freedom and freedom of expression online. So far, there has been little or no indication of commitment on the part of governments to involve or consult civil society in the development of legislation and policies for the regulation of the internet. On the other hand, the majority of African civil society groups have limited or no capacity to engage governments on internet-related policy and legislative issues. The MFWA’s initiative, therefore, comes at a time when many have raised concerns about the increasing attempts by many African governments to adopt new and mostly restrictive internet-related laws, and the growing need for a strong civil society-led advocacy for a much freer and accessible internet.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 07/27/2013

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Gambian Media Law Restricts Internet Freedom

 

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns an amendment to a media law adopted by the Gambian parliament that imposes lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines on individuals who use the internet in any capacity to criticize government officials. "Gambian authorities are trying to protect themselves by denying their citizens the right to use modern communications fully," said Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West Africa consultant. "This amendment should be repealed immediately." The Gambian Parliament on 4 July 2013 amended the 2009 Information and Communication Act to introduce a 15-year jail term and fine of 3 million Dalasis (about US$100,000) to any individual convicted of using the internet to spread false news or make derogatory statements, incite dissatisfaction, or instigate violence against the government or public officials, news reports said. The penalties apply to individuals living in the country or abroad, the reports said. Information Minister, Nana Grey Johnson said the amendment had been passed to prevent Gambians from engaging in "unpatriotic behavior" against the government and public officials, according to news reports. On April 16, the Gambian parliament amended the country's Criminal Code Act to include the president, vice president, ministers, and members of the National Assembly as public servants. The regional watchdog Media Foundation for West Africa reported that the amendment runs counter to the country's constitution, which does not recognise these officials as public servants. The amendment also increased the penalty for providing false information to a public servant from six months and a fine of 500 Dalasi (about US$15) to five years' imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Dalasi (about US$1,515), Amnesty International reported. The Gambia has employed other repressive tactics in recent months. On 18 April, authorities banned the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services like Skype by companies and individuals at internet cafés, citing "national interest," the state-owned Daily Observer reported.

From http://www.bizcommunity.com/ 07/16/2013

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EUROPE: Draft Data Law Could Kill Casual Web Browsing, Digital SMEs Warn

 

WEB USERS could be forced to register with a website just to see its homepage, if the current draft of an EU regulation on online data is not changed before becoming law. That’s according to a group of small and medium-sized Irish digital advertising firms, which says a new data protection regulation being put together in Brussels could make it virtually impossible to show content to casual users. IAB Ireland, a trade association for the online advertisers, says the current draft of the laws would mean websites could only show content to users who explicitly approve the submission of some of their personal data. It also extends the definition of ‘personal data’ to include non-personal details like an internet user’s IP address and the cookies stored by their browser. IAB Ireland’s member firms say the rules could mean the end of an era where users can “serendipitously” discover new websites – as they would have to explicitly approve the submission of their personal data simply to see its homepage.

 

The group said it was important to realise that the laws would be coming in the form of a European regulation – meaning it would automatically become law in each EU member state, and was not subject to national amendment or discretion. While this has advantages – making sure that online publishers only have to deal with one set of rules, instead of complying with dozens of separate legal systems – it also requires the unanimous approval of all EU member states, and the European Commission and Parliament, to be changed. Once the laws were in, therefore, it was almost impossible for individual countries to engineer a change – meaning it was vital that the final regulation be workable and fully thought through.

 

‘Large parts of the web could disappear’

Eamonn Fallon, chief executive of Distilled Media whose sites include TheJournal.ie, said large parts of the web could “disappear behind login walls” if the regulation was not amended before being brought into law. He added that users would also have to explicitly agree to send their IP address to different sites, whose content might all appear on one page. So, for example, a website featuring ads controlled by Google would be asked whether they wanted to give Google their IP address, simply in exchange for allowing the ads to appear on the page. Similarly, Facebook users could be asked to explicitly send their IP address to Facebook just so a ‘Like’ button could appear. Fallon said that if information like a user’s IP address was considered ‘personal’, “the only way companies like ours can legally run web analytics and third party adservers would be to force all our users to login.”

 

Digitize director John Patten added it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gather explicit consent on the websites on which ad networks, or site analytics companies, operate.” This was because the companies delivering ads to users, or compiling readership figures on behalf of a web publisher, “do not have have a direct relationship with the users from whom they would need to obtain explicit consent.” The group says the regulation’s whole purpose – to try and minimise the data that websites can collect about users – would be totally undermined if it forced websites to actively seek more information from users before allowing them to view content. Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, who attended an IAB media event this morning, is the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the data protection updates. Kelly says he has tabled a number of amendments to the draft regulations, to try and address the concerns of the SMEs. “We are working hard at an EU level to ensure that the Regulation balances strong protection for consumer rights with the opportunity to facilitate SMEs in Ireland and across Europe to prosper in the digital economy,” he said.

From http://businessetc.thejournal.ie/ 06/25/2013

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Business and Human Rights – What This Means for the ICT Sector: European Commission Publishes Guide on UN Principles

 

The European Commission has published guidance for companies in the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector on meeting the corporate responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The sector guide will be particularly relevant for personnel engaged in corporate governance and ethics and compliance functions as well as those whose role includes managing business relationships with suppliers, contractors and governments. It is also intended to be helpful to groups who are interested in promoting respect for human rights in this business sector, including governments, industry associations, trade unions and consumer organisations. The guidance sets out the steps required under the UNGPs to "know and show" a respect for human rights and translates this into the particular context of the ICT sector. Probably the most unique feature of this sector from a human rights perspective is that collectively it constitutes the "communications pipeline". This affords opportunities both for individual self-expression, e.g. social media, as well as government and commercial monitoring and control, e.g. internet filters or the suspension of a telecommunications network at politically turbulent times.

 

Other human rights will of course also be relevant to players within the ICT sector.  These include human rights relating to the proper treatment of the workforce (such as health, protection from forced or child labour and just conditions of work) and communities (including health, sanitation and cultural property rights). To take a practical example, server farms use large amounts of energy and water for cooling; depending on their location, this could have an adverse effect on local communities' access to resources.  The guidance is of relevance to all companies, globally, who are engaged in the ICT sector.  This "ICT ecosystem" is extensive:  fixed and mobile telecommunications services providers, wireless and internet service providers (ISPs), search engine providers, social media companies, cloud computing service providers, manufacturers of smartphones, mobiles, digital cameras, gaming consoles, chip and other component manufacturers as well as app and other software developers. Although not legally binding, the European Union is committed to the implementation of the UNGPs and the European Commission's guidance for the ICT sector is a step towards this.

 

1. Background: understanding the framework of human rights protection in business

The corporate responsibility to respect human rights is one of the "three pillars" of the UN "Protect, Respect and Remedy" Framework on business and human rights. Under the UNGPs, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate in the world. This means that businesses should have in place policies, procedures and mechanisms to avoid infringing on the human rights of individuals and address negative human rights impacts with which they are involved. The UNGPs also set out the duty of states to protect against human rights abuses by businesses through policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication and the need for greater access to effective remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses. International frameworks such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, ISO 26000 and the Global Reporting Initiative have been updated to reflect the UNGPs, therefore convergence around the UNGPs should lead to fewer conflicting standards and more consistent expectations. The European Commission has also published guidance for oil and gas companies, employment and recruitment agencies and small and medium-sized enterprises.  For further information on the guidance for the oil and gas, and employment and recruitment sectors, please refer to our e-bulletins here and here.

 

2. ICT: risk factors

A wide range of internationally identified human rights are engaged in the ICT context due to potential use of the technology and the supply and production of components and devices. These include the rights of users of technology, supply chain workers and local communities impacted by a company's operations. The guidance recognises that the risks to human rights will depend on the activities of the company, the operating context and the practices of a company's business partners. The guidance identifies a number of human rights risk areas in the ICT sector.  These include:

•the challenges of responding to government requests for information about customers and users which are not in line with international human rights law;

•the difficulty of identifying potential human rights breaches in a company's extensive supply chain, particularly where manufacturing of components takes place in a domestic context where labour laws are weak or unenforced in practice; and

•the challenges that arise from regulations which lag behind technological developments which, if misused could have negative human rights impacts. 

 

3. Addressing risk: putting business responsibility for human rights into practice

The guidance identifies six core elements of the responsibility to respect human rights under the UNGPs and explains how each applies to the operations of a company in the ICT sector. The core elements are:

•having a publicly available human rights policy commitment to respect human rights and having processes for embedding that commitment into the company's culture;

•assessing actual and potential human rights impacts by understanding the operating context, drawing on expertise and consulting with affected stakeholders;

•integrating the findings and acting to prevent or mitigate the impacts;

•tracking how effectively impacts are addressed by developing indicators and incorporating stakeholder perspectives;

•communicating how impacts are addressed; and

•remediating negative impacts the company has identified it has caused or has contributed to, including by establishing or participating in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms.

The guidance explains that assessing, integrating, tracking and communicating (which together are what the UNGPs refer to as “human rights due diligence”) should start at the earliest stages of product, service or technology design or market entry, and at the pre-contract stages of business relationships and should be on-going. 

 

4. Practical steps for managing human rights risks in business relationships

Under the six core elements, some key practical considerations for companies stand out. Review your current policies: Companies need to commit to, develop and review policies which explain their expectations of staff, business partners and others in the value chain regarding respect for human rights. Companies should therefore review existing policies to ensure that they meet the requirements of the UNGPs and consider implementing further policies and procedures, as necessary to ensure compliance. Review your business partners' (and targets') policies and practices: The commitment to its human rights policies should be embedded into a company's relationships with its business partners from the outset and should not be seen as a "negotiable extra". As well as integrating the management of human rights risks into new contracts, companies should review existing contracts with business partners throughout the supply chain, assess the risks of negative human rights impacts in those relationships and use leverage to address any human rights impacts identified. The guidance also recommends that human rights risks should be assessed prior to acquiring or investing in an asset or business. Public reporting: The guidance also recommends that companies consider formal reporting on human rights performance (e.g. in annual reports or investor updates), even if this goes further than the minimum requirements of national state law.  There has already been a move by some legislatures to require some companies to report on their human rights policies (see for example, the UK Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors' Report) Regulation 2013, expected to be in force from 1 October 2013). For further information on human rights in narrative reporting please see item 2 of our corporate e-bulletin here. 

 

5. The future of human rights in business

The European Commission guidance reflects the increasing importance for companies to address human rights risks linked to their business activities and the growing financial, legal, reputation and operational cost of failing to do so (including the risk of claims being brought by NGOs under the complaints mechanism of the OECD Guidelines for Multinationals). The UN, European Union and a number of national governments, including the US and the UK, have committed to the implementation of the UNGPs and the UK national action plan on business and human rights is expected to be published shortly. Financial institutions providing funding to businesses will put greater emphasis on human rights considerations in the future, as a consequence of aligning their own policies and procedures to meet their responsibilities under the UNGPs. Shareholders and business partners will also increasingly require companies to demonstrate a respect for human rights as they take steps to limit their exposure to human rights risks. It is clear that business and human rights is an evolving area of risk and compliance for companies and that complying with national law may not sufficiently demonstrate a respect for human rights if the applicable local laws relating to labour rights, environmental protection and affected communities are absent, weak or unenforced. Telecommunications service providers, in particular, increasingly find themselves walking a difficult tightrope, trying to balance their own responsibilities for respecting human rights with government mandated interventions, such as mass surveillance.  The guide provides a welcome framework for working through the issues, even if it cannot provide the answers.

From http://www.lexology.com/ 07/16/2013

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Norway Plans High-speed Internet in Arctic

 

Norway may provide high-speed Internet in one of the few places on Earth where it’s not available: the Arctic. The Norwegian Space Center has teamed up with Telenor Satellite Broadcasting to assess the feasibility of a new satellite system covering northern areas outside the reach of current geostationary communications satellites. Space centre director Bo Andersen on Thursday told the Associated Press the system could be in place in the early 2020s if it gets the necessary funding from private and public sources. The estimated cost is two billion to four billion kroner ($330 million-$650 million). Demand for high-speed Internet in the Arctic is expected to grow as shipping, fishing and oil companies move north amid warming temperatures and melting ice. Last year, summer sea ice cover in the Arctic fell to the lowest extent on record. Geostationary satellites, which are in orbit over the equator, provide coverage up to 75 degrees north, Andersen said. But above that latitude, the signals become too weak, and the only option is another satellite network that can only handle voice and limited data service. “We see very clearly that there is an increasing need for broadband in the High Arctic,” Andersen said. Ola Anders Skauby, a spokesman for Norwegian energy company Statoil, said “new satellite solutions would be beneficial” as the offshore industry moves north in search of oil and gas. “Our plans for the Arctic depend on a number of issues: safe operations, logistics, weather conditions and more,” he said. “Broadband coverage is part of this picture and for operations in some regions further north than where current operations are taking place development of new solutions for high-capacity broadband ... will be needed.” Canada’s space agency has been studying a similar system. Spokeswoman Melanie Beauchesne said the agency has completed feasibility studies but is still talking with potential public and private partners in Canada and abroad “to determine their level of interest and potential collaboration scenario to bring about the future realization of this mission.”

From http://www.theprovince.com/ 07/11/2013

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LATIN AMERICA: Uruguay's New Media Law - A Model for Latin America?

 

On 22 May 2013, Uruguay's government submitted a bill to parliament for the new Audiovisual Communication Services Law (Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual or the SCA, in Spanish). The law is expected to move into the Senate's hands by the end of the year, bringing a slate of new media regulations to the country. IFEX members Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública (CAinfo), based in Montevideo, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have reviewed the bill and are cautiously optimistic that it is a positive step that will help to strengthen the media landscape in Uruguay. The SCA has been compared to similar laws in Argentina and Ecuador, but articles such as those on media concentration and restricted programming to protect minors are where the similarities end. In both of these countries there is palpable tension between the government and the media.

 

The RSF 2013 World Press Freedom Index sets Uruguay at 27 out of 179, making it one of the highest ranked Latin American countries. Meanwhile Argentina sits at 54 and Ecuador at 119. Freedom House's 2013 Freedom of the Press index, ranked Uruguay as “free”, Argentina “partly free” and Ecuador “not free”. In Argentina, a climate of polarisation between the media and some privately-owned outlets colours every decision, such as the government's move to privatise newsprint distribution, as an attack on private media. Edison Lanza, CAinfo's Director, said in an interview with RSF that the proposed timeframe for implementing the law in Uruguay would be over five years, giving media outlets time to adjust to new regulations. In contrast, Argentina's outlets have had only one year to adapt. Where attempts to reduce media concentration are concerned, that deadline has left outlets like Argentina's Clarín Group scrambling to divest itself of media holdings before they are sold off dirt-cheap by the government.

 

With regards to scheduling restrictions on programming, the new law in Uruguay would expand the hours when programming must be appropriate for the entire public by one half hour, meaning this window would now extend from 6am and 10pm. A recent decision in Ecuador to include representatives from the Council on Children and Adolescents on the new Council for the Regulation and Development of Information and Communication would suggest similar concerns for children in Ecuador. The difference here is that the Uruguayan law does not include a council of government officials to oversee the media. According to the Knight Center, a third significant implication of the SCA would be a required minimum percentage of broadcast time dedicated to nationally produced programmes, 60% for television and 30% for radio. This regulation is the same as in Canada, where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission guarantees 60% Canadian content on broadcast stations.

 

Something else that sets this law apart from others in Latin America is the expectation of full transparency in media licensing. The current system, in which licenses can be indiscriminately revoked, will be replaced with one in which license periods are time-bound and renewable, according to a statement from President José Mujica. The bidding process for the licenses is planned to be transparent and involve public consultation, reports RSF. In fact, consulting the public has been a significant and positive part of the development of the SCA bill. Civil society organisations frequently regret the lack of transparency and consultation when new media laws are introduced. A closed process can lead to laws that give the government too much control over the media or include wording that is overly broad and open to interpretation, often to the disadvantage of media outlets. Of course there is also criticism of the draft law, including concerns that the current draft does not specify that media concentration regulations must apply to public as well as private media, that articles related to media auto regulation are misguided and that guarantees for free expression must extend to online content. And yet there is hope that with open public consultation the bill can still be improved.

 

While elements of Uruguay's SCA may be criticised and compared to those of its neighbours, there is no comparison with Ecuador's Communications Law, which is often called the “ley mordaza” (gag law). That is a term Lanza does not think anyone will use for Uruguay's SCA. In contrast to Argentina, where the communication law is implemented in an atmosphere of extreme polarisation between the media and the ruling party, or in Ecuador, where the Communications Law was signed into law by a president who “has used virtually every trick in the antipress playbook to intimidate and silence his perceived media opponents”, the current climate in Uruguay is more conducive to constructive and inclusive dialogue on the role of the media. Hopes are high for Uruguay where, as RSF puts it, the law “is a model of media regulation for other countries in the region, where freedom of information suffers from glaring imbalances”.

From http://www.ifex.org/ 07/18/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Ottawa Stands Firm on Wireless Policy

 

The Harper government has made it clear it won't change any wireless policy despire pressure from the big three incumbent carriers. After meeting with all carriers Industry Minister James Moore posted a statement on the Web that the government is unmoved by claims that if Verizon Communications is able to buy a startup here competitors will be put at a great disadvantage. "Since 2008, our Government has introduced new policies to increase competition in our telecommunications industry," the statement said.  "The result has been greater choices at lower prices for Canadians.  In fact, our actions have driven down the average cost of wireless services by nearly 20 per cent.

 

"Our government’s view is that Canadian families work hard for their money, and they want their government to make decisions that will help them keep more of it.  Protecting consumers and increasing competition in the wireless market are priorities for Canadians and our Conservative Government. "Our policy has been clear and remains unchanged: greater competition and liberalized investment has meant more choices at lower prices for Canadian families. "Our government’s telecommunications policy was not created overnight.  It is the result of a vigorous consultation that started in 2008 and continues today. All players – industry, consumer groups and everyday Canadians – contributed to this policy. "We are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for Canadian consumers.  We want all regions of Canada to benefit from competitive market forces, which is why more progress must be made.  We will continue to stay the course by ensuring Canadians benefit from a competitive telecommunications industry.”

 

The statement was posted on Moore's personal web site, jamesmoore.org,  and not on the Industry Canada site subscribed to by most in the industry. This could be seen as a green light to Verizon, which has said it is in discussions here, although only characterized as "an exploratory exercise." But Fran Shammo, the company's chief financial officer, also told financial analysts on July 18 that "some of the cautions here are the regulatory environment, a foreign investor coming into the Canadian market and what does that mean?"  Moore's statement could have cleared away any questions Verizon has about rules changing after it has made an acquisition. Ken Engelhart, Rogers Communications' senior vice-president of legal affairs, agreed in an interview this morning the government didn't allow itself any wiggle room in Moore's statement. Still, he said is company will "continue to make the point that it makes no sense."

From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 08/01/2013

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U.S.: Will Texas Pass Nation's Strongest Email Privacy Bill?

 

On Tuesday, a Texas bill (HB 2268) that requires state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant for all emails, regardless of their age, was sent to Gov. Rick Perry, who has until June 16 to sign or veto it, Ars Technica reported. If he neither signs nor vetoes HB 2268, it will pass automatically and take effect on Sept. 1, 2013. Though the bill -- which passed both the Texas House and Senate earlier this year -- would give citizens more inbox protection from state-level investigations, it would not protect against federal searches. If the bill goes into effect, Texas law will be more privacy-conscious than the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), under which federal law enforcement agencies must only obtain a warrant to access recent emails before they are opened by the recipient.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 05/30/2013

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The Federal IT Procurement Reform Act Passes House in Defense Bill

 

A measure to increase the budget authority of federal CIOs and to change IT procurement was added as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill on June 14. The overall National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a vote of 315 to 108. The Federal IT Procurement Reform Act (FITARA), which was co-sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March, was added to the Defense bill on a voice vote, along with a number of other bipartisan measures. FITARA updates the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, which itself was passed as a section of a Defense authorization bill. However, the FITARA that is now heading toward become law has been amended in some significant ways since passing committee. Lawmakers removed language that appeared to tip the scales in favor of open source over proprietary software – a change sought by many in industry. The legislation also now calls for the federal IT Dashboard to track “steady state” or operations and maintenance spending, and clarifies that agency CIOs have hiring authority over deputies and associate CIOs at large bureaus and agency components.

 

The measure puts "real meaning behind the term 'chief information officer,'" Issa said in remarks on the House floor. "Never again will someone have that title and have no budget authority or responsibility. When a program goes right, the chief information officer is responsible. When a program goes awry, it’s his or her job to make it right." "There are more than 250 identified CIOs in the federal government, yet none possess the necessary authority to effectively manage IT investments," said Connolly in an e-mailed statement. "This has resulted in duplicative and wasteful IT spending, with taxpayers forced to foot the bill for massive IT program failures that ring up staggeringly high costs, but exhibit astonishingly poor performance." The White House threatened to veto the $638 billion Defense bill in a June 11 policy statement, for reasons wholly unrelated to FITARA. The administration has yet to offer comment on FITARA, but back in January, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel told the House Oversight committee that he already has the authority under the law to accomplish many of the policy goals spelled out in the bill. The Senate has yet to hold hearings on the bill, but the issue of CIO authority was the subject of a recent hearing by the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

From http://fcw.com/ 06/14/2013

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Hawaii's Open Data Law Takes Aloha State to 'Next Level'

 

State CIO says the new law will help excite and engage citizens in developing solutions around government data. On July 3, 2013, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie took a step toward increasing government transparency and accountability in the state -- he signed into law House Bill (HB) 632, now Act 263, which requires Executive Branch departments to make electronic data sets publicly available. And this, says CIO Sonny Bhagowalia, takes the Aloha State to "the next level" when it comes to open data. "This is a big initiative to increase public awareness and access to data and information created by and available from the state departments and agencies to all the citizens," he said, "so they can help enhance government accountability and transparency." Bhagowalia says the new law also is intended to encourage public engagement and stimulate the creation of useful apps that people need in their daily lives. "I think our policy here on open data is sort of catching Hawaii up to this new incredible wave of transformation and innovation," he added, "and it's a testament to the governor's vision of transforming government, creating a sustainable economy and developing a workforce in the state."

 

For Bhagowalia, pictured at left, open data has been a top initiative, as proven by the launch of the state's open data portal, data.hawaii.gov, in August 2012. But prior to passing the new open data law, data sets on the portal were provided voluntarily by departments and agencies. Currently there are 200-plus data sets available on the portal, but many more are on there way, thanks to the new open data law. "This act is going to take it to the next level of involvement," Bhagowalia said. "We now have a great forum to provide our services and really excite the public about what we want to do." He said the open data law is another tool to help the State Office of Information Management and Technology change the way Hawaii approaches technology and business practices across the entire enterprise -- a goal that's spelled out in the office's 12-year technology transformation plan. "These services will be online, so [citizens] will be able to look at that data, get more confident about their government, and get information they can use," he said. "All this will help data.hawaii.gov get some new energy and start to really come up with stuff that we can use."

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/12/2013

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Enhancing Public Access to Legal Data

 

Using a $600,000 grant, the Oyez Project will digitize legal materials of State Supreme and Federal Appellate Courts. In a few years, simplified case summaries, judicial opinions and audio recordings from all federal appellate and state supreme courts could be accessible at the touch of a button. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will spearhead the effort, aggregating documents and media from courts in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. The information will be reformatted and republished online following open practice standards. Once the project is complete, content will be more accessible to non-legal audiences, including journalists and the general public. The remainder of state supreme and federal appellate courts in the U.S. will receive a similar treatment over the next five years provided additional funding is raised. The audio recordings and digital content will be available through individual websites for each court and a mobile app.

 

Helping to fund the work is a $600,000 prize that the  Oyez Project received   as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The foundation works to promote media innovation by funding innovative ideas in news and information. The Oyez Project previously digitized U.S. Supreme Court documents from as far back as 1955, including an audio archive containing approximately 14,000 hours of court deliberation spanning roughly 6 million words. Leading the new project is Jerry Goldman, Oyez Project director and a professor with the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Goldman felt tackling the written and audio content of all the nation’s appellate courts would make covering the courts easier for journalists, and give the public a better understanding of judges and legal decisions. “They are men and women with values and judgments, and sometimes they make good calls -- and I bet they make a few bad ones too,” Goldman said. “I think we have a duty as citizens to understand what they do, rather than say … ‘that’s someone of Polish decent and my family came from Poland so I am going to cast my vote for her.’ That really is what I want to overcome by improving ease of access to the work of the courts.”

 

First Steps

The project will require a great deal of teamwork between the Oyez Project and volunteers. The grant funding will enable Goldman to create a consortium of local partners from law schools to provide plain English case summaries, abstracts and biographical sketches of federal appellate and state Supreme Court judges. The Oyez Project team will build the both the websites and the mobile application for both iOS and Android devices for access to the content. A prototype model of what the website will look like is already online, containing data from The Washington State Supreme Court. That site was built using WordPress, but the new project will operate using Drupal as a content management system. Matt Gruhn, associate director of the Oyez Project, explained that users will see individual websites for each court. But “under the hood,” all the data will live in the same digital repository, enabling advanced querying of data across multiple jurisdictions. In the next few months, the Oyez Project will reach out to law schools to gauge their interest in being part of the new project. Goldman said he hopes to get a couple of schools interested, which in turn should snowball into more wanting to be involved as the effort will get them noticed by the state judiciary. In addition, the archival work could help enhance a law school’s brand and reputation to help drive prospective student and professor interest in attending or teaching at the institution. “It’s another way for a law school to distinguish itself from its competitors,” Goldman said. “It’s hard for me to see the downside here, especially since we’re doing all the hard work.”

 

Challenges Ahead

When working on the U.S. Supreme Court project, the major challenge for Goldman and his team over the last 20 years was going back 58 years to collect audio recordings in different states of decay from the National Archives and transferring it. Many of those same research and aggregation steps will exist with the federal appellate and state supreme courts, but the work will focus largely on material from current years, so it won’t take as long. A number of hurdles still exist, however. Many courts use obsolete word processing software to archive transcripts, making cataloging and transferring to one standardized format difficult. In some cases, the courts have transcribed their own audio and identified the speakers, making the process easier. But that’s a best case scenario -- and one that’s usually not the case, according to Goldman. As a result, a much larger amount of time and effort needs to be spent on the recordings. Some courts have also recorded legal proceedings in proprietary formats or in sub-standard quality such as .mp3, which further complicates matters. Recording in low fidelity runs counter to the archival goals of the Oyez Project, which looks to archive the actual source audio without any loss in quality. Although the files will be enormous, with cloud technology available, size really doesn’t matter.

 

Goldman explained that courts throw away a lot of data by using recording formats with lossy compression,  such as .mp3.  He argued that as time goes on and newer delivery standards come around that are incompatible with .mp3, there’s no way to go back and recover a lossless format to convert into a new standard. So the quality will continually degenerate. That’s why preserving uncompressed audio data is so important. The pristine source audio is also desired to enhance the quality of mobile access to the recordings. The Oyez Project made the U.S. Supreme Court recordings mobile-friendly by creating a live stream that can be accessed by smartphone. They took the large recordings and cut them down into very small segments, enabling a user to search for specific parts of a legal proceeding. The content can also be downloaded, but by using the ISCOTUS NOW app, a person can make clips of the segments to use for various purposes. The same is planned for federal appellate court and state supreme court recordings, but maintaining quality can be difficult, particularly if the source audio isn’t at an archival level. “I suspect we will face those issues, and then we will have to struggle with how we make those materials publicly available and archivally-sound so that going forward, we can always make a conversion,” Goldman said. “I just have to do more preaching because I am not getting through to my parishioners about the importance of preservation and being able to make this accessible 50 or 100 years from now."

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/18/2013

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Internet Gaming - Law vs. Reality

 

Internet gambling is an excellent case study of how difficult it is to effectively regulate many aspects of the Internet. As more and more of our lives migrate online, congress, state legislatures and local governments are grappling with how to address the issues and challenges this presents. The problem is that by the nature and structure of the Internet itself, content and commerce on the Internet are virtually impossible regulate. The federal government is better positioned than a state or local government, and even they have a very difficult time. Internet servers and mirror sites located all over the world allow people to operate businesses from whatever jurisdiction they choose. If tightly controlled countries like China and Iran can’t completely stop their citizens from accessing websites they deem objectionable, it is virtually impossible in a free, democratic society like the United States. Internet gambling is an excellent case study of how difficult it is to effectively regulate many aspects of the Internet.

 

Just as Internet poker was gaining in popularity in the early 2000s, congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which it thought would put an end to Internet gambling. But a 2010 study by the respected Internet gaming research along with data firm H2 Gambling Capital found that Internet poker was booming despite the law. The study found there were between 10 million and 11 million people playing Internet poker for money in the United States. Leaving aside personal feelings about gambling and whether Internet gambling should be legal, it is virtually impossible to enforce a law that 11 million people are violating in the privacy of their own homes. Between 2006 (when UIGEA passed) and 2011, billions of hands of poker were played, and billions of dollars changed hands. And for every hand of poker played, the companies operating the games took a percentage. But none of that money went to U.S. companies, and no governmental entity in the United States earned any tax revenue from it. Instead of ending Internet gambling in the U.S., UIGEA simply forced it offshore.

 

Companies that were operating in the U.S. market withdrew, and were replaced by companies that were less interested in respecting the law. Places like Gibraltar, The Isle of Man and Alderney became the homes to multi-million dollar businesses. Their governments and regulators created a friendly regulatory structure and welcomed the businesses. Many of these countries had a very small GDP. Revenue from the new gambling enterprises provided a huge boost in tax revenue, and they had no incentive to enforce U.S. law. In 2011, after years of trying, the United States’ Department of Justice was able to seize the domain names and shut down the U.S. operations of the world’s two biggest Internet poker companies. But their enforcement actions did not arise from great police and detective work, nor did it come from tightly written, effective statutes. It came from an informant who the FBI was able to arrest because of a spat between the informant and his employers. According to a survey by Poker Voters of America (disclosure: they are a former client), there were at least 532 Internet poker sites in operation in 2006. The closure of two of those sites, through complete luck, hardly constitutes the triumph of government’s ability to regulate the Internet.

 

And if proof is needed, less than 24 hours later, it was easy to find many sites ready and willing to accept wagers from U.S.-based players. The biggest action that slowed down Internet poker in the U.S. was the decision by ESPN to stop accepting advertising from Internet poker companies -- a decision that came in the wake of the Department of Justice’s actions, but was completely voluntary. Fast forward to 2013. Federal law remains unchanged; it is still illegal (at least on paper) to gamble for money over the Internet. Despite that, anyone with a computer and a credit card can be playing Internet poker within a few minutes. For that matter, if blackjack is your game, you can find that too. The same is true with slots, craps, bingo and roulette. You can even play backgammon for money if you want. Gambling has a long history and seems to be about as certain in society as death and taxes. Neither the Internet nor gambling is going away. And when the two are combined, it is a matter of "where" the games will take place, not "if" they will take place. The only question is, will they take place on computer servers owned by foreign companies located in foreign territories? Or will they take place on servers located in the United States that are owned and operated by companies based here

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/22/2013

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White House Expands Guidance on Promoting Open Data

 

White House officials have announced expanded technical guidance to help agencies make more data accessible to the public in machine-readable formats. Following up on President Obama’s May executive order linking the pursuit of open data to economic growth, innovation and government efficiency, two budget and science office spokesmen on Friday published a blog post highlighting new instructions and answers to frequently asked questions. Nick Sinai, deputy chief technology officer at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dominic Sale, supervisory policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, noted that the policy now in place means that all “newly generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, greatly enhancing their accessibility and usefulness, while ensuring privacy and security.” Opening up more data, they added, “means more entrepreneurs and companies using those data to create tools that help Americans find the right health care provider, identify a college that provides good value, find a safe place to live, and much more. It also empowers decision makers within government, giving them access to more information to enable smarter, data-driven decisions.” The new guidance steers agencies to create and maintain an enterprise data inventory; to create and maintain a public data listing; to create a process to engage with customers to help facilitate and prioritize data release; to document cases in which data cannot be released; and to clarify roles and responsibilities for promoting efficient and effective data release. Agency progress reports are due Nov.1. The officials added that they are also working to improve the prototype of the central government data site Next.Data.gov, and invite feedback from the industry.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 08/19/2013

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CHINA: IT to Play a Bigger Role - Minister

 

China will further integrate traditional industries with information technology to lift their productivity and foster more demand in the IT sector, according to a half-year work conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Thursday.Minister Miao Wei vowed to make the most of IT's role in upgrading traditional industries and cultivating emerging strategic sectors. He said he would strive to realize "significant progress" within the next five years."Information technology is the most vibrant, most penetrating filled with the largest spillover effect," Miao told more than 100 officials in Beijing and many others in charge of industries and IT across China, who attended the conference via a cable connection.

 

The efforts echoed a meeting held on July 12 by the State Council in which Premier Li Keqiang called for an upgrading of the nation's economic structure by boosting demand in the IT industry.China aims to boost spending on the sector by more than 20 percent annually through 2015, according to the State Council."We face a complicated and severe economic situation now, with problems in industrial sectors becoming more salient. The downside pressure is growing. Overcapacity is intensifying and small companies' difficulties are rising," Miao said.He said the West's informatization came after industrialization, for which they paid a high cost in terms of resource depletion and environmental degradation.

 

China, he warned, should not follow the old path and should pursue industrialization and informatization simultaneously.As China's industrial economy cools and enterprises struggle with rising costs and chronic overcapacity, the ministry's campaign is being seen as a message that the government intends to rely on IT as a way out. It would therefore pour considerable resources into the sector.China on Monday approved another 103 pilot cities as "smart cities", a project that would allow local governments to ramp up spending on information infrastructure.According to Miao, although the near-term target is to boost governmental, corporate and household consumption of IT, the longer goal is to upgrade traditional industries and revamp the country's growth model.The specific measures to boost IT consumption, drafted by the ministry, have been approved by the State Council and will be announced soon, Miao said.

 

The ministry is also drawing up a plan to integrate industries with information technology. The aim is to significantly strengthen enterprises' competitiveness in the information age by 2018.Already, China's corporate sector has adopted many initiatives in utilizing IT to save costs and improve efficiency.Huang Hua, secretary of the board of directors at Tongda Refractory Technologies Co Ltd, said information systems have been applied in various sectors of the manufacturing company's workflow management, logistics and finances."But this is far from enough. In many other industrial sectors, IT has enabled the integration of design and processing. The future trend is, as we always described, 'get rid of design papers and reconciliation statements', " he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 08/09/2013

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China Announces 9 Pilot 'Smart Cities'

 

As China accelerates the pace of its urbanization, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation unveiled its Smart City program on Tuesday with the first nine selected pilot cities."The first nine cities are expected to finish Smart City construction within about three years and it will gradually expand to the whole country," said Li Weisen, deputy director of the administration.The nine cities are Taiyuan in Shanxi, Guangzhou in Guangdong, Xuzhou and Wuxi in Jiangsu, Linyi and Zibo in Shandong, Zhengzhou in Henan, Chongqing, and Huhan in Hubei. Every pilot city will invest more than 36 million yuan ($5.8 million) in the program each year.The Smart City program aims to create an innovation network, optimizing the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings in a way that meets the city's current and future demands.Li believed that the program will trigger a potential market of more than 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion)."The Smart City program will be the solution to problems such as traffic congestion and pollution arising from rapid urbanization," Li said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 08/13/2013

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China Pledges More Efforts to Protect Personal Info

 

Public security authorities on Tuesday said fingerprint registrations for people who change their ID cards or plan to get new ones should be expedited in order to prevent counterfeiting and protect personal information.Recent media reports have stated that many people are involved in the trafficking of lost or stolen ID cards on the Internet, according to an official from the Ministry of Public Security."Those who illegally use others' ID cards will be subject to legal punishment," the official said, adding that the ministry will step up efforts to crack down on such activities.More than 1.2 billion Chinese have received new ID cards since a new version of the cards was introduced in 2004.

 

The first version of the national ID card, which was launched in 1985, has been prohibited from use starting Jan. 1, 2013.In order to protect people's personal information, those who have applied for or exchanged their ID cards were asked to have their fingerprints recorded starting earlier this year.As many as 16,000 police stations have started recording prints, the ministry said, adding that fingerprint recording is expected to be implemented nationwide by the end of the year.The ministry said it is also considering creating a system for reporting lost ID cards in order to encourage people to report lost cards in a timely fashion.According to a statement released Sunday by the ministry, police have broken up 468 gangs and arrested 1,213 people for allegedly personal information trafficking online.

From http://www.news.cn/ 08/13/2013

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JAPAN: Stalking Law Revised to Include E-Mail

 

The revised law against stalking, which newly covers acts of repeatedly sending unwanted e-mail messages to targeted people, was approved by the Diet on Wednesday. A bill to strengthen the law was unanimously approved at the day’s plenary meeting of the House of Representatives. It cleared the House of Councillors last week. Also on Wednesday, the final day of the current regular Diet session, the lower house enacted a bill to revise the law against domestic violence following approval by the upper house last week. Both amendments were submitted by lawmakers to the current session following murder cases related to stalking and domestic violence. The antistalking law had so far covered such acts as lurking around targeted people, making repeated or silent phone calls, and sending unwanted fax messages. But sending unsolicited e-mail had not been covered because e-mailing was still uncommon when the law took effect in 2000. Calls for revising the law grew since a woman in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend in November 2012 after being bombarded with unwanted e-mail messages from the man.

 

The woman went to the police for help after receiving the avalanche of e-mail. But the police were unable to charge the man under the antistalking law. Under the revised law, police stations or local public safety commissions in areas where stalkers live or where acts of stalking took place can issue warnings or bans on stalking. Previously, such warnings and bans had been issued only by police stations or public safety commissions in areas where victims’ residences were. The revised law against domestic violence calls for protection of people suffering violence from live-in partners on top of those subject to violence from spouses and from partners in commonlaw marriage. People who continue suffering violence from spouses or partners after they cease to live together are also eligible for protection under the law. The amendment came on the heels of a case in which a man who was committing violence against his former girlfriend killed the woman’s mother and grandmother in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, in December 2011.

From http://the-japan-news.com 06/27/2013 

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SOUTH KOREA: KT to Launch Cloud Services in Japan

 

KT Corporation will launch a cloud computing service in Japan this week to meet growing the market's demand for reliable Internet storage systems to house mission-critical data. According to Yonhap News Agency's report Thursday, the service, named "Cloud K", will be sold through SoftBank Telecom Corporation. KT and SoftBank have jointly set up an infrastructure in Gimhae, a city near South Korea's second-largest city Busan, to offer services to Japanese companies seeking a reliable data storage center during natural disasters and power outages. KT is diversifying its business beyond its core telecom services, and it plans to offer cloud computing services in other countries in the future, it said. The global market for cloud computing is expected to hit US$461 billion in 2015 and around half of the world's top 1,000 companies are expected to use such services by 2015, the company added. This is not the first time KT has partnered with a Japanese telco to broaden its business presence. In October last year, KT and Japan's NTT Docomo teamed up to develop cross-border mobile payment offerings based on near-field communications, with the first service scheduled for the first half of 2013 

From http://www.zdnet.com/ 05/30/2013

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MSIP, MOSPA and MOTIE Clashes Before the ‘Special Act on ICT’

 

According to the sources, Ministry of Trade. Industries & Energy (MOTIE) recently delivered its official opinion to Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) and opposed the establishment of IT Technology Promotion Agency (tentative name) within MSIP, citing that the role of the Agency overlaps with the roles of other organizations located under the MOTIE, such as Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT). The establishment of the Agency, together with the formation of ‘IT Strategy Committee,’ is considered to be one of the core items of the Special Act on ICT. MSIP originally planned to integrate the ICT R&D functions scattered across many governmental organizations, including Korea Communications Agency (KCA), KEIT and Korea Creative Contents Agency (KOCCA), into the Agency to separate the national ICT R&D from private R&D and streamline the process of ‘discovery-selection-evaluation-commercialization.’  MOTIE, in opposing the plan of MSIP, believed that the goal of Special Act on ICT can be achieved with the existing structure. It also claimed that the R&D system had already took firm roots since the implementation of Public Office Sophistication Strategy in 2008 and it should not be overturned.  MSIP is holding on to its plan to continue the negotiation with MOTIE, but did not hesitate to show its discontent. “After the re-shuffle by the new administration, the area of IT defined by Industrial Technology Innovation Promotion Act to cause the establishment of KEIT had been clearly transferred to MSIP, and it is natural for the ICT businesses to be managed by a centralized control tower, because swift decision is more important than any other industries,” commented a MSIP person.

From http://www.koreaittimes.com/ 06/18/2013

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Gov't to Increase Free Wireless Internet Zones

 

The government said Friday that it plans to provide more free wireless Internet access zones across the country, giving citizens better access to the Web from portable devices. According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, 2,000 locations, including bus terminals and hospitals, have been connected with free wireless-fidelity (WiFi) networks.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/12/2013

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INDONESIA: To Improve Defence GIS Capabilities

 

The Geospatial Information Agency (Badan Informasi Geospatial) will be working together with the Indonesian army to support and improve the defence force’s decision making capabilities by promoting the use of GIS and geospatial intelligence. The strength and resilience of a national defence system determines a country’s susceptibility to security risks, which is why it’s important to have authoritative information at the right place and at the right time. Since most national security decisions involve geography. Whether it’s assessing potential terrorist targets, planning where to strike on the battlefield, or managing the Department’s assets geography always comes into the equation. Decision makers are able to leverage the power of geography by using GIS. Through it defence officers are able to efficiently manage, analyse, and produce geospatial data for better decision making. Colonel Dedy Hadria, Director of Topography at the Indonesia army said his visit at the Geospatial Information Agency’s office marked a long-term friendship for both agencies. The Geospatial Information Agency will be providing capacity building workshops to improve the Directorate’s capability to respond in three key areas such as: disaster risk reduction, conflict resolution and border protection. Meanwhile, Asep Karsidi, Head of the Geospatial Information Agency, hopes that in the future, more programs to promote the use of geospatial information in the Military and Defence force will be pursued.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/14/2013

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Indonesia Tests E-Billing for Tax Payments

 

In order to minimise human error and cut the queues short, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Tax (DJP), Ministry of Finance has introduced electronic billing for tax payments or e-Billing. Although currently in testing mode, registered individual and corporate taxpayers can begin to take advantage of the service. They will need to register at sse.pajak.go.id using their Tax Identification Number (TIN). Upon registration, users can fill out their personal details which will be stored by the system, and can then obtain a billing code from the system. Payment can be made at post offices or banks by providing the billing code. Alternatively, ATMs and internet banking can also be used by entering the billing code, although this can currently be done only at Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest bank. If payment is made through a teller, the ‘Receipt of State’ will serve as proof of payment. If payment is done through an ATM or internet banking, the transaction receipt or electronic receipt will be the proof of payment, respectively. The e-Billing service is currently available to those taxpayers registered in regional DJP offices in Jakarta and West Java, and large taxpayers. Currently, a number of other services are also provided by the DJP on its website. These include e-Registration to obtain a TIN, and e-Filing and e-SPT for tax returns. Going forward, the DJP plans to introduce a single sign-on system for access to all electronic services and applications provided by it.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/21/2013

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World Bank Promotes Open Data in Myanmar

 

More than 120 members from civil society organisations, research institutes and government ministries participated in the recent “Open Development” workshop organised by the World Bank, as part of its on-going efforts to encourage the use of publicly accessible data and research, found in the Bank’s website, to tackle development challenges. According to an official statement, there is increasing demand for greater transparency, accountability and governance. To meet this demand, the Bank’s data, research, information and analytical tools are now available on the internet free of charge. “Greater access to data and information will enable everyone to make better informed choices and decisions, to improve the lives of the people,” said Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank Country Manager for Myanmar. Participants found the workshop not only informative, but also “empowering” as it enabled them to explore other innovative means to improve how they work, study, and plan for development activities.

 

Htaike Htaike Aung, an ICT for development expert of a local CSO, is currently making efforts to bridge the digital divide in rural areas by teaching middle school students and the elderly how to use a computer. “Our outreach aims to empower people, especially the youth, by showing them how to use the internet more effectively and learn from on-line courses. In remote areas, people cannot read English, so localising software and content is important,” he said. “This workshop gave me the opportunity to learn how to find data relevant for my work and explore many tools for us to improve our work.” The Wold Bank has been conducting workshops on “Open Development” in the East Asia Pacific Region, on a regular basis to encourage a discussion on Open Development with policy makers, and to introduce tools such as Open Finances, Open Maps, Open Data, and Access to Information. Under this initiative, the Bank’s data and knowledge is available free of charge for use through creative commons and open access licensing, to enable people to make better informed development decisions.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/27/2013

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MALAYSIA: Launching Online Permit Renewal for Foreign Workers

 

In a bid to make public services easily accessible to everyone, the Government of Malaysia recently introduced a new online service which aims to make it easier for foreign workers in the country to renew their work permits. Prior to its launch, the online work permit renewal service only catered to foreign maids. However due to an increasing demand for more streamlined e-services the Government resolved to extend the service to foreign workers as well.  According to research firms, the e-service is estimated to benefit more than four million foreign workers and is expected to drive huge revenues for the government. The e-service is available through MyEG, a portal which serves as a single point of contact for government e-services in Malaysia. In December 2012, the Government unveiled plans to expand e-services to other sectors such as plantations and constructions.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/30/2013

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PHILIPPINES: To Launch E-Payment Scheme for Business Registration

 

State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and electronic-banking consortium BancNet signed an agreement for the implementation of a new web-based system that aims to make business name registration more convenient for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The system called Enhanced Business Name Registration System (E-BNRS) is designed to provide protection to the public dealing with business establishments by disclosing the identity and citizenship of the business owner. It also prevents a business establishment from using a name confusingly similar to the name of another registered business. According to an official statement, DBP shall enable DTI to facilitate payment acceptance for business name registration and renewal through the Internet using a web-enabled payment gateway. The entrepreneur can simply register his business online, and a payment for the transaction will be debited from the applicant’s account which will include the business name registration fee, documentary stamp tax and a convenience fee of P15.00 (US$ 0.36). With the new process in place, the entrepreneur does not need to physically visit a DTI office to pay for the business registration fees. Furthermore, several redundancies and processes in the data entry features of the website have also been reduced.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/07/2013

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The Philippines Launches New ICT Projects

 

The Department of Science and Technology launched the four major components of its National IT flagship project called Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil), which aims to enhance the efficiency of government operations and services by leveraging ICT. The IT components launched includes: Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), Government-wide email system (GovMail), Government Cloud (GovCloud), Agency Records Inventory System (AgRIS), and Government Website Template. According to iGovPhil project director Denis F. Villorente, the PKI will provide added security to government online transactions and communications by using dual keys for sealing and opening documents online. “Since it also uses digital certificates for authentication and verification, PKI is useful not only in government services but also in other transactions with the public, such as online payments.”

 

He added that with GovMail, the government will have a uniform email and online identity. The email, including data and other records, will be stored in the GovCloud, a secure server and storage facility owned and operated by the Philippine government. Meanwhile, part of the effort to give the government a unique corporate identity is the creation of the Government Website Template. Government agencies are urged to adopt the template to give their websites a common “look and feel.” “With one look, the user will be able to say that this is a Philippine government website,” Villorente said. “The agencies, of course, still control content on their sites. They will have features that show their line of service, like content and presentation.” AgRIS is an inventory of files, documents and records kept by each government agency. It aims to keep track and provide a list of all these records and store them in a government data centre in preparation for the eventual implementation of the National Archives and Records Management (NARM) project.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/14/2013

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The Philippines to Institutionalise Telehealth Program

 

The Department of Health (DOH) and the University of the Philippines are finalising stakeholder consultations for the drafting of an Administrative Order (AO) which aims to institutionalise the government’s National Telehealth program. With the AO, nearing its final draft, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said this will further support activities aimed at achieving universal healthcare in a country riddled various geographic and social challenges. The Telehealth system will address health needs of Filipinos located in far flung rural areas where it is difficult to access quality medical care. In addition, it will reduce unnecessary travels by simply connecting patients to doctors with a click of a button. “For so long, we have known that the accurate and timely data in our local health centres hold the key to monitoring the performance of our health system. But since time immemorial, the government has not systematically implemented such information systems,” Ona said. “The implementation of the AO supports efforts to establish a modern information system that shall provide evidence for policy and program development, and support for immediate and efficient provision of health care and management of province-wide health systems.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/18/2013

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Philippine Lawmaker to Transform Legislative Process with Crowdsourcing Portal

 

Senator Teofisto Guingona III launched an online platform called “The Guingona Project” which aims to generate feedback and comments from the public on the recently filed Senate Bill No. 73 or The Philippine Crowdsourcing Act of 2013. “Senate Bill No. 73 seeks to bring the principles of empowerment and people’s participation to a higher level. It’s more than just getting a sense of public sentiment, more than just scanning the public opinion environment; it’s directly asking the Filipino to make his voice heard and be an active participant in the process of legislation,” Guingona said in an official statement. Once enacted, the bill will enable citizens to easily participate in the law making process by going online. The Senator likened the portal to a virtual version of Plaza Miranda, a public square in the Philippines which was once regarded as the centre of political discourse in the 1970s.

 

“There was a time when Plaza Miranda was an arena of ideas where politicians and ordinary people alike would say their piece and they would be applauded by believers and booed and challenged by their adversaries. The internet will be the ‘new’ Plaza Miranda. The arena may be new, but the principle remains the same. Any legislative initiative that is to affect the life of our people must be able to withstand the most intense, even the worst scrutiny, by those for whom we perform our legislative tasks,” he explained. The Guingona Project features an infographic explaining how the Crowdsourcing Act can potentially transform the traditional legislative process and other relevant information essential for citizens to understand the full context of the Crowdsourcing Act. Citizens can send their feedback or comment by filling all important details such as name, e-mail (which will be kept confidential) and location. According to the Senator, public comments on the virtual platform will be accepted until noon of 21 August.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/12/2013

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THAILAND: Revealing New Govt Website Standard

 

ICT Minister Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap last week revealed the new government website standard as part of enhancing security, increasing transparency, and optimising the development of e-government in the country. Assigned by the Ministry of ICT (MICT), Electronic Government Agency (EGA) has recently finished the development of the new government website standard to cover the areas of improvement and be a guideline for public agencies to enhance their websites. According to the minister, the new guideline includes three key sections which are the agency’s basic information and services, site search engine and interactive channels to increase citizen engagement, and e-service section. The EGA also included recommended features that the government website should be bi-lingua (Thai and English), coming with adjustable font option and Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and having a clear navigation for the site visitors. This new website standard complies with the requirement of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and up to the information security and information privacy standard. Gp Capt Nakornthap added that the MICT has collaborated with eight agencies to improve their websites to meet the new requirement. The eight agencies are Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Secretariat of the Prime Minister.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/03/2013

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VIETNAM: To Digitise National Database

 

Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Vietnam has recently revealed the project to digitise basic information of all citizens and include them in the national database on population and in national ID cards by late 2020. This plan is a part of an overall scheme to simplify the government’s administrative procedures, personal papers and database related to population management during the 2013-2020 period, recently approved by the PM. The project is expected to help Vietnamese administrative agencies access, use and process administration work for citizens in a more efficient way, as well as to help the government save up to VND198 billion (US$99 million) in filling information in personal papers. During the media briefing held on June 13 in Hanoi, the representative of the MOJ said the project aimed to transform the organisation and operation of the population management in the country in accordance with the context of industrialisation, modernisation and international practice.

 

The project will help accelerate the use of IT in administrative procedures, reducing paperwork for the citizens, and contribute to more effective and efficient management in all elements, as well as to enhance the development of e-Government in Vietnam. To start with, during 2013 and 2014, the project will focus on completing legal basis to support the setup of national population database, issuing, managing and using personal ID numbers, and systematising administrative procedures and personal papers. By the end of 2015, the government target to finish the technical infrastructure and national database. Personal information is then expected to be issued in 2016. Between 2015 and 2020, electronic personal ID cards will be distributed to reduce the use of paper for the areas related to birth, marriage, and death records, residence and other related fields. By 2020, basic information of all citizens is expected to be fully updated into the national databases to simplify administrative procedures and replace the use of paper for medical insurance cards, social insurance cards, personal tax codes and other related documents.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/18/2013

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VN Prepares to Go Digital

 

The Ministry of Information and Communications says it will issue a set of digital TV standards in preparation for the digitalisation of TV broadcasting in Viet Nam. The move follows a request from the Japanese Business Association in HCM City, which includes a number of TV makers like Sony and Panasonic. The association said a set of standards (technical specifications) was required before they could begin making the new digital TV sets, particularly CI+/CI (common interface) connectors which would take time. The ministry said Viet Nam planned to cease broadcasting analogue TV in five major cities next year as digital TV takes over.  During the transition period until 2020, households would still gain access to digital TV through the existing sets using set-top decoder boxes, which they would have to purchase. The State would help about 2 million poor families buy the boxes, the budget coming from the telecommunication public-interest fund. TV companies would concentrate on developing content while other companies would take charge of broadcasting. Digitalisation would be carried out in four phases, covering different groups of provinces and cities. The first phase would be carried out in Ha Noi, HCM City, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho; the second phase in 26 provinces with a deadline of December 31, 2016; the third phase in 18 more provinces; the last phase in remote provinces of the north and central region.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/06/2013

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INDIA: Prasar Bharati Plans to Launch Mobile Apps

 

Prasar Bharati plans to introduce mobile applications for Doordarshan. AIR will provide news and entertainment to viewers on mobiles, laptops and tablets. DD and AIR are already on YouTube and Twitter .While DD News has 32,000 followers on Twitter. There are about 1,700 videos uploaded in you tube. AIR too has 24,000 followers on Twitter .The next step according to an official is to create and develop mobile apps. The archival material that is being digitized and uploaded could be subscription based. Prasar Bharti hopes to earn a revenue of Rs 200 crore with the new project. The apps are likely to be in operation in the next six months.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/21/2013

 

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Government Launches WiTrac Technology

 

Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Communications & Information Technology and Law & Justice, handed over the WiTraC technology developed by CDAC. CDAC developed the vehicle actuated Wireless Traffic Control System powered by solar panels. This technology in the area of Traffic Control System meets is certified by Electronic Regional Testing Laboratory. WiTraC supports 868MHz (licensed), 5.8 GHz (unlicensed) wireless and wired Control Area Network (CAN) communication protocol for signal time switching apart from 2.4 GHz (unlicensed) ISM Band. The Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) has come out with a number of policies and initiatives to boost the electronic hardware manufacturing in the country. It has taken up R&D through its own societies as also academic institutions and R&D laboratories to develop technologies, which could be transferred to domestic companies at affordable cost for commercialisation. The department has looked into the need for development of appropriate technology to address the area of traffic control system in corridors in medium and large cities. A collaborative research program to develop indigenous intelligent transport system technology suitable for Indian conditions was taken up through CDAC, with an outlay of Rs.14.75 crore.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/29/2013

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TRAI Issues New Regulations for Mobile Number Portability

 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunications Mobile Number Portability (Fifth Amendment) Regulations, 2013. After implementation of Mobile Number Portability, the Authority had received complaints from the subscribers of corporate mobile numbers that their porting requests have been rejected by the donor operators under the category “Contractual Obligation” for want of permission/authorization from the company’s corporate for porting such numbers. TRAI placed draft Telecommunications Mobile Number Portability (Fifth Amendment) Regulations 2013 on its website www.trai.gov.in for consultation of the stakeholders. Based on the stakeholder’s comments and TRAI’s own analysis, The new regulations directs that up to 50 corporate mobile numbers of a service provider can be ported to another service provider through letter of authorisation from the authorised signatory of the corporate mobile numbers, in a single porting request Considering the activities involved and number of mobiles to be processed in single porting request, 48 hrs have been allowed for forwarding the porting request by the Recipient Operator, for corporate mobile numbers whereas 24hrs remain unaltered for individual porting requests.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/29/2013

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PAKISTAN: Ministries of IT, S&T Sign MOU for Production of Electronic Products

 

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Information Technology and Ministry of Science and Technology on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding for design, development, large scale production and marketing of renewable energy and electronic products. STEDEC Technology Commercialization Corporation of Pakistan, Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), National Institute of Electronics (NIE) and Telecom Industry of Pakistan (TIP), Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) signed the memorandum. STEDEC Managing Director S. K. Mohyuddin, TIP MD Nadeem Ahmed Khan, PCRET Director General Khalid Islam and NIE Director General Zafar Iqbal Khokhar signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organizations.

 

While Ministry of Science and Technology Secretary Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar and Ministry of Information Technology Additional Secretary Muhammad Ejaz Mian witnessed the signing ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, Akhlaq Tarar said Ministry of Science and Technology and its R&D organizations have mandate to serve the national industry through developing products, technologies, processes, import substitutes, value-addition especially for export and by providing technical assistance to SMEs. The Secretary said these R & D Organizations have good number of highly qualified, trained and experienced researchers as well as state-of-the-art and well equipped laboratories for undertaking world class research, however, their contribution to national industrial growth through indigenization of local technologies has not been very impressive. He said the reason for this unimposing performance has been weak industrial linkages, trust deficit of industry on public sector organizations, development of non-demand driven products, lack of entrepreneurship development facilities and expertise.

 

The Ministry, while realizing these gaps, has established the Commercialization Cell to develop linkages between R&D organizations, academia and industry for sharing of resources to carry out demand driven R&D, offering solutions to various industrial problems, entrepreneurship development and commercialization of IP of these organizations, he added. Tarar said under the scope of this MoU, PCRET, NIE & STEDEC (MoST) and TIP (MoIT) shall jointly undertake design & development, large scale production and marketing of Renewable Energy and Electronic Products in the country and the signing parties will ensure optimal utilization of all available resources for mutual benefit and for the ultimate aim of introducing and promoting cost effective indigenous products. He expressed confidence that the MoU will herald a new era of long term relationship between the two ministries, which will be cornerstone of initiatives aimed at self reliance through indigenization. The Secretary appreciated the efforts of MoST Commercialization Cell for materializing the MoU to start large scale production and marketing of indigenous technologies. MoIT Additional Secretary Muhammad Ejaz Mian also spoke on the occasion and hoped that the MoU will go a long way in large scale production of renewable energy and electronic products in the country.

 

Under the MoU, NIE and PCRET will design, develop and produce prototype of demand driven products and pass on the complete technical know-how to TIP, while STEDEC will undertake all financial and commercial aspects on behalf of PCRET and NIE. TIP will be responsible for mass scale production and marketing of products designed and developed by NIE and PCRET. A joint Working Group, having representation of all the four parties as well as of MoST and MoIT will select the products (already designed or to be designed) and prepare workable operational model and SOPs for taking the products from initial stage to marketing level.

From http://www.brecorder.com 08/01/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: New Draft Laws on ICT Sphere Developed

 

APA-Economics. Azerbaijani Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies has developed National Strategy on development of information society and two draft laws.  According to APA-Economics, these are “Information, Informatization and protection of information”, “State Information systems and information reserves” draft laws.   At the same time, the specialists of the Ministry have developed the project “Rules on Registration and Usage of country-code high-level domains in Azerbaijan”. The rules include online acquisition of domain names. Online registration system of domain names is planned to launch in September, on the eve of 20th anniversary of *az domain.

From http://en.apa.az/ 07/27/2013

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Azerbaijan to Adopt New ICT Standards

 

Azerbaijan is to adopt new standards for ICT by the end of the year, announced the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (MCIT). Based on international standards, work is underway for the preparation of three standards for biometric technologies, four for digital television, and two each for development of programme products and terminology.  The agencies involved in developing the new ICT standards are the MCIT, State Agency for Public Services and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan, and the country’s State Committee on Standardization, Metrology and Patents.  This comes hot on the heels of Azerbaijan’s adoption of a one-stop shop model for citizen services where citizens can access a range of public services at a dedicated centre. As a part of this, the Azerbaijan Service and Assessment Network (ASAN) will serve as a network of service centres where government services will be provided in an integrated and coordinated manner with all services processed online.  The model will focus on being customer-centric, connecting government, building capacity, delivering on its promise to the public, innovation and fighting against corruption.  Having designated 2013 as Year of Information and Communications Technology, the country achieved 10.5 per cent growth in the ICT sector in the first half of the year compared to the same period of last year.  A total of AZN 71.2 million (USD 91.3 million) has been invested into the ICT sector of the country. Of this, AZN 29.98 million (USD 38.44 million) came from structural units of the ICT Ministry and enterprises.  Azerbaijan stood eighth out of 144 countries in the rankings for government’s achievements in ICT, ninth for importance of ICT in the government’s view for the future, and 20th for internet availability, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013 .

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/02/2013

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Azerbaijan to Allocate Frequencies for Needs of 4G Standard

 

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan has decided to allocate frequency spectrum of 790-862 MHz bands for the needs of fourth-generation mobile standard LTE (Long Term Evolution), the Ministry told Trend. According to authorities, at present, these frequencies are used in analogue television broadcasting. The frequencies will be released after the full transition to digital broadcasting standard. As for the evolution of television in the coming years, the deployment of high-definition (HD) television by broadcasters is topical in this issue, the ministry said. After the distribution of frequencies between mobile operators the remaining part of frequencies (470-690 MHz) will be used for the needs of HDTV. "For this purpose it is necessary to discuss the perspective plans for deployment of HDTV channels directly with television channels themselves. Based on this, needs of Azerbaijan in these frequencies in future will be determined," the ministry said. The high definition television is a new level of image quality (broadcasting in widescreen format, high brightness and colour accuracy, zero interference, surround sound in Dolby Digital format and other benefits). If today's standard digital TV, which uses MPEG-2 protocol, gives the opportunity to broadcast 10-12 channels, the HDTV format allows broadcasting only three or four channels.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/11/2013

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IRAN: ICT Minister Writer of 9 Titles, Numerous Scholarly Papers

 

IBNA: Vaezi was appointed Iran’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology by President Hassan Rouhani on August 15. After finishing his preliminary education in Tehran, he traveled to the U.S. to obtain B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Sacramento State University and San Jose State University and become a Ph.D student in Telecommunications engineering at Louisiana State University which he left unfinished after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D in International Relations from Tehran and Warsaw Universities respectively.He returned to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1980.   He has so far held various posts as a senior communications manager and decision maker.   He heads the Center for Strategic Research Deputy of Foreign Policy and International Relations. He is also the former deputy foreign minister of Iran in Europe and American Countries Affairs. 'Middle East Political Crises and Social Movements: Theories and Processes', 'Iran’s Foreign Policy with France', 'Afghanistan: A Decade after the Fall of Taliban', 'International Crises: Theoretical Analysis and Case Study', 'Intervention in Central Asia and Caucasus: the Islamic Republic of Iran Case', 'Oil and Foreign Policy' and 'Intervention in Theory and Practice' are some of the titles Vaezi has so far penned. He has also released 19 scientific articles in English and has had them published in credited international journals on communications and electronic engineering. Moreover he has published 50 specialized articles in Persian which are released in Iranian journals. Vaezi has also conducted 43 theses and projects by engineering teams.

From http://www.ibna.ir/ 08/20/2013

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AUSTRALIA: Should Digital Copyright Be Reformed?

 

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is a government agency that reviews all Australia’s laws to ensure they are equitable and keep up with the times. In recent years it has addressed the many legal issues raised by the digital economy. Chief amongst these is copyright, which is still largely based on laws originating in the 18th century. Copyright has become a significant issue globally since the Internet and the digitisation of content has made conventional distribution methods obsolete. The ALRC has now released a Discussion Paper for the copyright inquiry – Copyright and the Digital Economy – containing 42 proposals regarding reform of the copyright. Under the Terms of Reference for its inquiry into copyright, the ALRC is considering whether exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act 1968 are adequate and appropriate in the digital environment and whether further exceptions should be recommended. The ALRC is seeking feedback on the proposals. ALRC Commissioner for the Copyright Inquiry, Professor Jill McKeough, said “The ALRC has been very pleased with the response of the community to this inquiry. We received 295 submissions to our Issues Paper, and have also had the opportunity to meet face to face with many people with an interest in this Inquiry. In releasing this Discussion Paper we are calling for submissions to inform the final stage of our deliberations leading up to the final Report.”

 

The ALRC has suggested five framing principles for the inquiry: acknowledging and respecting authorship and creation; maintaining incentives for creation of works and other subject matter; promoting fair access to and wide dissemination of content; providing rules that are flexible and adaptive to new technologies; and providing rules that are consistent with Australia’s international obligations. Any recommendations the ALRC finally makes will be weighed against these principles. Commissioner McKeough stated “The reforms proposed include the introduction of a broad, flexible exception for fair use of copyright material and the consequent repeal of many of the current exceptions in the Copyright Act, so that the copyright regime becomes more flexible and adaptable. An alternative model, should fair use not be enacted, suggests the addition of new fair dealing exceptions, recognising fairness factors.

 

“Other reform proposals relate to the replacement of certain statutory licences with voluntary licensing more suited to the digital environment; the use of orphan works; provisions relating to preservation of copyright material by cultural institutions; and contracting out of the operation of copyright exceptions. Two alternative proposals relating to the scheme for the retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts are set out for comment from stakeholders, in addition to other proposals relating to broadcasting.” The Discussion Paper is available free of charge from the ALRC website, www.alrc.gov.au. The ALRC strongly encourages online submissions directly through the ALRC website where an online submission form facilitates responses to individual questions. Written submissions can also be posted, faxed or emailed to the ALRC.

From http://www.itwire.com 06/11/2013

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Australian Government Dusts Off Digital Strategy

 

There will be free wi-fi for remote Indigenous communities, an expanded document verification service, and more government services online by 2017 under proposed actions in an overhauled digital strategy released by the Australian government today. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced this morning that he is dusting off the two-year-old National Digital Economy Strategy to become Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy (PDF), with 24 new actions aimed to help the government meet the eight goals it set itself back in 2011 by 2020. The government will develop a new curriculum for technology to be taught to all students, from foundation until year 8. The government will also invest AU$6.5 million over the next four years into National ICT Australia on a new program to encourage students to take up study in IT, including in areas where there are known skill shortages, such as advanced software developers, software engineers, and data scientists. By the end of 2017, the government has also outlined that government agencies will need to provide user-friendly online access to priority services, with access provided through a single authentication method for desktop, mobile, and other means of accessing the sites.

 

To underpin this, the government will also look at expanding the use of the document verification service, and will make it more widely available to the private sector. It will also investigate the use of higher assurance digital credentials issued by financial organisations, and whether this can be used by government in establishing the identification of its users. The document revealed that the AU$136,000 Cybersafety Help Button, designed by the government in 2010, which acts as a link to information for children on where to report issues online, has been downloaded 889,000 times as of the end of April this year. While it was revealed earlier this year that Apple had rejected the app from its App Store for being too similar to a web link, the strategy document today revealed that Telstra is partnering with the government to have the help button put on some Telstra mobile devices before customers buy them. There has been a trial conducted over the last four years, with 300 remote Indigenous communities getting free wi-fi from the government through satellite community telephones installed throughout remote Australia. The government said in the document that the trial was a success, with high use by the residents, and more community phones will now be adapted to support public wi-fi for these communities.

 

The government will also consider expanding the Medicare Benefits Schedule to allow patients to claim video-based consultations with their GPs. A number of already-announced proposals, including the promotion of cloud computing, open data, and big data use, as well as the development of a national plan to combat cybercrime, were also included in the action points for the government to complete.

From http://www.zdnet.com 06/12/2013

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QLD Releases New ICT Strategy

 

The State Government of Queensland released a new government ICT strategy on Friday, setting a roadmap for the development of government’s IT systems to deliver the best results for citizens. The Queensland Government ICT Strategy 2013-17 aims to reform public service and make government more efficient, flexible, and better able to meet the needs of its citizens. ICT will play a crucial role in this. “The focus of this strategy is to determine how the government can best use digital information to improve the services it delivers to Queenslanders”, stated Ian Walker, IT Minister of Queensland, while unveiling the strategy last week. The strategy has an ambitious vision: ‘A transformed public service that is focused on improving services for Queenslanders, by better use and analysis of government data, and by using modern, cost-efficient technology’. Published by the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, the strategy defines three objectives within two main government outcomes.

 

For example, the first desired outcome is revitalising front-line services by delivering effective digital services for clients. This gives the government a pathway for providing better front-line services such as health, fire, and police services, to citizens. The strategy recommends several different actions, such as reducing duplication of effort through consolidation of channels and solutions, increasing the percentage of households and businesses using online services, and increasing connectivity of schools and universities to develop online education services. Another desired outcome stated in the strategy is delivering better infrastructure and better planning, by providing effective digital services for government. The strategy recommends that to avoid the high cost of maintaining, upgrading, or replacing ICT facilities, agencies should source ICT services instead of systems, hence migrating to procurement of ICT-as-a-service. “We will be a government that uses ICT to better share information between agencies and the community while maintaining appropriate information security and privacy of individuals,” declared Walker. The complete strategy can be found here.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/08/2013

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ACMA Launches ‘Digital Citizens Guide’

 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has launched a guide to being positive about digital engagement’’ rather than being a wary Internet user. The Guide facilitates confident online engagement by citizens through identifying three principles which reflect the required values, skills and knowledge:

# Engage positively: exercise your rights and responsibilities as a digital citizen

# Know your online world: learn new skills and digital technologies

# Choose consciously: take charge of how you interact online.

 

“Today’s networked society needs confident connected citizens,” said ACMA Deputy Chairman Richard Bean. “As individuals we play an increasingly important role in the digital economy, and the ACMA’s Digital Citizens Guide will help all of us ‘engage positively’, ‘know our online world,’ and ‘choose consciously’ when online. The Guide is part of the ACMA’s multifaceted and flexible response to the challenges facing Australia’s increasingly networked society. Australian citizens are citizens of a digital world, and the ACMA’s guide facilitates Australians’ confident online engagement through identifying three principles which reflect the values, skills and knowledge we need,” said Bean. ”As online communications and digital content become more embedded in the experience of citizens, I expect that a greater emphasis on the ACMA’s communication and facilitation strategies, such as this Guide, will be both needed and welcomed.” Bean said the Digital Citizens Guide is also welcomed by a wide range of industry and community partners, including: Google, Facebook, Telstra, Microsoft, the Commonwealth Bank, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Yahoo!7, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, the Internet Industry Association, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, the Family Online Safety Institute, Bravehearts, and the Centre for Internet Safety.

 

“The Guide’s message is not about being wary online, but coming up to speed with digital technologies and making informed choices. Our long experience in the cybersafety world has confirmed that a positive approach to the use of the Internet is what’s really needed. ”Our research tells us that Australians will welcome these clearly actionable steps. The guide will help Australians stay safe, and reflect positive values while participating in everyday online activities like socialising, shopping and accessing information.”

From http://www.itwire.com 07/25/2013

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Implementing a New State ICT Strategy in Australia

 

The State Government of Queensland, Australia, released a new government ICT strategy earlier this month, determining the technology priorities and directions of public sector agencies for the next five years. The strategy identified several key areas of focus, recommending the provision of services through different channels, implementation of IT projects in stages, and procurement of ICT-as-a-service rather than infrastructure. FutureGov spoke to Susan Middleditch, Deputy Director General, Systems Support Services Division at Queensland Health, about the implementation of the ICT strategy in her organisation. Queensland Health provides a range of services to achieve good health and well-being for citizens, including hospital inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services.

 

New ICT initiatives

“The first recommendation of the strategy – revitalising front-line services – means two things for Queensland Health”, states Middleditch. “Firstly, we will provide health services in new and contemporary ways, and secondly, we will provide our health community, including public and private providers, with the ICT tools necessary to have a connected health service”. Queensland Health already has a number of new ICT initiatives underway. A telehealth project will allow patients in rural and remote areas of Australia to consult with a doctor in another part of the country. “The first stage of the telehealth project is underway now”, explains Middleditch. “The Government has provided additional funding in 2013-14 for six trial sites. The same project will also allow us make appointments all across the state, though this is a longer term consideration which is still only in concept stage”. Another ICT initiative that Queensland Health is working on is a new Patient Administration System which will provide up to date technology to clinicians and administrators to manage patient care and records efficiently. “We don’t know the investment required as yet, but it will be significant”, says Middleditch. “Our current sytem is out of support, so we will be looking for a whole new technology”.

 

Procuring ICT-as-a-service

A major recommendation made in the strategy was the procurement of ICT as a service from providers, rather than each government department owning high-cost infrastructure that requires expensive and constant maintenance. “The Queensland government is committed to partnering with the private sector to reduce the ‘ownership’ of ICT assets”, declares Middleditch. “We are currently working on a number of strategies to divest ourselves of as ICT assets”, she continues. “We have launched a corporate services and solutions renewal project, which is leading the way for the Queensland Government corporate services area as a whole. We are also looking into allowing our finance and payroll solutions to be delivered in this manner”.

 

MIddleditch expects that the data storage and archiving functions in Queensland Health will be outsourced to private providers, along with application hosting, maintenance and support. “We first need to manage risk, and ensure that the private sector is mature enough to provide us with the services and the controls we need”, she says. “The implementation of this new strategy will reduce our costs of ownership dramatically, and, in partnering with the private sector, should give our staff and patients access to the best of breed solutions”, declares Middleditch. “The new strategy is about a future that is fiscally sustainable and secure, and enables us to focus on service delivery”.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/25/2013

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Australian Government Streamlines Big Data Strategy

 

The Australian government’s peak ICT policy agency, Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), has launched a new Australian Public Service Big Data Strategy. This launch underscores moves to better understand, use and share data held by agencies delivering front-line services, and holding vast repositories of information. This strategy’s launch coincides with an April 2013 opening of a whole-of-government Data Analytics Centre of Excellence by the Australian Taxation Office. This centre marks a sea change in the way volumes of government data is handled, accessed and managed. Among the trends, AGIMO notes that 90 per cent of the worldwide data was created in just the last two years. “Some estimate that data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Others estimate an additional 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being generated every day.”

 

Making sense of data

Big data as well as analytics and mining tools help end-users better analyse and make sense of the vast repositories of information. This is especially so for massive data banks held by agencies in Australia and globally. “Indeed, big data, as an emerging concept, intersects with many data management issues that pre-date this concept,” notes AGIMO. Big data management underscores the value of data held by Commonwealth agencies. These agencies carry a shared responsibility to realise – and fully deliver – the value of this data. Streamlined access to data also benefits citizens, while complying with privacy and security guidelines. AGIMO and member agencies aim to clarify what is meant by big data; how this intersects with the concept of data as an asset, and supports an open government environment. To deliver value, Commonwealth data, including that used for analytics projects, must be “authentic, accurate and reliable.” Big data incorporates the vast amount of data that is generated and captured in a variety of formats, and from many different and disparate sources. These repositories incorporate structured, semi-structured, unstructured or even incomplete data.

 

Data as a national asset

Governments generate massive volumes of data. This data is used for administration, policy development, and to interact with citizens. “It is part of the government’s responsibility to realise the value of this data and the information contained within it, and to recognise this data as a national asset to both the government and the Australian public.” Governments cannot realise this value without help from industry and academia. “As a result, Australia, along with many other advanced economies, is increasingly seeking to provide data to third parties for analysis, or to support the provision of services, for example through the development of mobile apps.”

 

Tackling privacy concerns

Under privacy guidelines, Australia will continue protecting individuals’ privacy rights. “Big data raises new challenges in respect to the privacy and security of data.” Data management policies are guided by relevant legislative controls. These laws and guidelines regulate government’s use and release of data sets and information. Agencies are encouraged to develop best-practices to link cross-agency data sets, as well as the use of third-party data sets, domestically and internationally. Any release of open data factors in privacy considerations. Data protection guidelines are upheld by Australia’s Data Protection Guidelines, among other privacy checks and balances.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/05/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: To Launch Revitalised ICT Strategy

 

New Zealand is expected to launch its revitalised ICT strategy between June-July 2013, according to timeline estimates by the Minister for Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain. Minister Tremain, a keynote speaker at the FutureGov Forum New Zealand, held Tuesday 28th May in Wellington, said the final blueprint has involved detailed consultation with government and industry — with an imminent launch date. But this strategy is not a “cookbook” with a defined recipe about technology choices. “This strategy will evolve as technology evolves, while ensuring that everyone understands and appreciates the ICT plan.” Technology innovation offers opportunities across government, Minister Tremain noted. These innovations will transform the landscape, while directly impacting how services are crafted, managed, and delivered to citizens. Under the government’s digital agenda, 70 per cent of common transactions will go on-line. “This is a big ask, but it’s also transformational. We don’t under-estimate the impact of our mandate, and using technology as an enabler for change.”

 

He foreshadowed a move away from “owning and operating technology assets” – while exploring cloud, mobile, and digital information management platforms. Future tenders factor in tighter financial constraints – at the same time, delivering “huge gains to the taxpayer.” Stephen Crombie, Chief Information Officer, New Zealand Police, noted that mobile communications, and smartphone apps increasingly support field operations. New Zealand Police’s technology effort focuses on an “officer-centric design.” This incorporates deployment, command-and-control and information exchange between central and field staff. “It has taken us 12 months to evaluate field pilot projects. We looked at multiple devices, and apps that could be developed.” The business case for mobile apps is to improve response time, deliver manpower savings, and support critical operations. New Zealand Police supports a population of 4.5 million. More than 11,500 staff manage operations, together with 9,000 officers – covering 12 districts, 43 areas, 371 stations, and 3 communications centres.

 

Paul Ash, Manager, National Cyber Policy Office, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, said that tackling cyber-security threats remains critical in a connected, digital economy. “Geography offers no protection against cyber-threats. There are high-yield, low-risk opportunities for threat actors.” These threats are increasingly more advanced, sophisticated, and pervasive. Cyber-attacks compromise intellectual property and proprietary information. Critical government and business infrastructure remains vulnerable. Mr Ash warned that the scale of cyber-threats is difficult to measure. But the sources encompass criminal, political and industry espionage. The New Zealand government launched its cyber-security strategy two years ago. Officials are working with international partners, and cyber-security organisations to tackle threats. Alex Evans, Chief Information Officer, Department of Local Government, Western Australia, charted this council’s foray into cloud services. This journey started in June 2011 – with the migration of systems and data into the cloud. The baseline was a mishmash of computer systems, networks, and infrastructure.

 

Typically, local government has complicated ICT systems. “There needs to be tighter integration between different platforms. For us, the future is cloudy. There are massive opportunities at the local level in the cloud.” Ms Evans cautioned that security, privacy, and data sovereignty concerns must be factored in. “It’s important to appreciate who has access to this data. There may be loss of control, unless privacy issues are considered at the outset.” David Elson, Director Enterprise Systems and Grants Management, Office of State Revenue, Queensland Treasury and Trade, said that Queensland is fast-tracking its cloud roll-out effort. “The future will be asset-free, and service-based.” Applications being migrated to the cloud include HR, payroll, and enterprise resource planning systems. The Queensland government is taking a ‘cloud-first’ approach to procuring ICT services. This move may halve email costs across government – while delivering annual savings of upto AUD 7 million. FutureGov Forum New Zealand galvanised key agencies, solutions providers and industry stakeholders over a dedicated day of discussions and interaction. This forum was supported by leading solutions providers, including Vodafone, Good Technology, Revera, WatchGuard, IBM, HCL, OpenText, and Ricoh. Industry partners hosted highly-interactive discussion tables – while drawing on the experiences of influential public sector leaders, and technology experts.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/31/2013

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NZ Gov Seeks Submissions on Telco Regulation

 

The New Zealand government has invited submissions on the first phase of the policy review of the Telecommunications Act 2001. The first phase of the review will examine whether the current regulatory framework is adequate for New Zealand’s migration from legacy copper infrastructure to fibre networks and discuss pricing components of the current regulatory framework. The review will discuss the most effective way to promote competition for end-users, how the commercial interests of access providers and seekers can be promoted and how to effectively encourage investment for the long-term benefit of end-users. It will also look at innovation in the telco market and deregulation in instances where there is sufficient competition. Alternative approaches, tools and institutional arrangements will be considered. Other phases of the review will examine the regulatory framework from 2020 when New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband network is completed, when 75 per cent of New Zealanders will be connected to the high-speed broadband network.

 

“We are being deliberately open-minded about what the regulatory settings might look like post-2020 and I would like to challenge stakeholders to think creatively and to get involved,” Amy Adams, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, said in the foreword of the discussion document for the review. “As we consider alternative models I am particularly keen that we keep the needs of New Zealand consumers and innovators to the forefront of our thinking.” The broadband initiative will provide New Zealanders with download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps. The industry has welcomed the review. Telecom New Zealand said telco providers need pricing certainty. “Pricing certainty will allow us to get on with what’s most important – competing in the marketplace through innovation, product differentiation and quality service,” Simon Moutter, Telecom chief executive, said in a statement. Chorus also welcomed the review.

 

“Chorus will be providing a comprehensive submission to further support the development of the right policy environment that will drive the growth and innovation that will be enabled by upgraded infrastructure, along with encouraging innovative retail services for New Zealanders,” Mark Ratcliffe, Chorus’ CEO, said in a statement. The New Zealand government announced the legislation review in February this year in addition to a review of the Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSO) and its structure and funding. Submissions for the review are due by 13 September, 2013.

From http://www.computerworld.co.nz 08/07/2013

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Audit of E-Government Projects Long Overdue

 

Sunday was the international Public Service Day on the United Nations calendar. The UN Public Service Forum, Day and Awards Ceremony began today in Manama, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and will end on Wednesday. This year’s theme is “Transformative e-Government and Innovation: Creating a Better Future for All”. There has been plenty of investment by donors in automating some critical Government services to create a one-stop window for the same through the Internet. The aim is to eliminate duplication of roles and drastically reduce opportunities for corruption and reduce the cost of spending on paper and related printing equipment. But corruption remains a big problem in many Government offices where automation is either partial or totally lacking. Registries are a good example where files mysteriously disappear only to resurface when one agrees to part with “chai”. Even in some departments where services have been automated, long queues are a daily sight. This could be due to the fact that the staff is poorly trained or are hell-bent on sabotaging e-Government.

 

They may regard it as a threat to their jobs, or their chance of making a little extra income from bribes paid by Kenyans desperate to access the same service. An unwillingness to embrace e-Government as a tool to make their work easier is a major hurdle for the Vision 2030 project. In fact, a fresh audit of the successes and weaknesses of the programme is urgently needed if it is to make a difference. One would not be surprised, for instance, to find a correlation between the work ethics and attitudes of most civil servants and their failure to wholeheartedly embrace e-Government. On August 22 last year, a Taskforce on Values and Principles of Public Service of Kenya was appointed to draw up a National Policy and Draft Bill. The latter would see values and principles of public service institutionalised as required by Article 232 of the Constitution of Kenya. We need a public service that is efficient, effective, responsive, prompt, impartial, accountable and transparent. While it must be appreciated that plenty of work has gone into transforming Government services by making them available via the click of a button on a computer of mobile handheld device, plenty more remains to be done.

From http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ 06/26/2013

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Fragmentation, Censorship and Political Surveillance of the Internet Are Among Risks in Global Debate on Governance, New CIGI Paper Says

 

Governance issues over the evolution of Internet technology, resources, protocols and standards will play an increasingly important role in global debates, according to a new report issued by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). In "Internet Points of Control as Global Governance," CIGI Senior Fellow Laura DeNardis explores key Internet governance issues that will have profound impact on global public policy discussions in coming years. She says that government involvement in regulating or facilitating Internet interconnection through a payment model, for example, would be a departure from the current governance approach and could “fragment the Internet based on political manipulation.” DeNardis says this change “could present a range of unintended or intended consequences — such as creating new concentrated points for government censorship, surveillance and politically motivated interconnection blockages, or creating economic disincentives for major content companies...”

 

DeNardis also points out the consequences that could come from having the Domain Name System (DNS) play a larger role in content control. Noting that this approach is already used for censorship in repressive contexts and in the United States for intellectual property rights enforcement, DeNardis says “this practice would be controversial because it would fragment the Internet’s universality depending on country and possibly create security and stability challenges to the DNS.” The report, which outlines the critical Internet resources at play within the larger architecture ensuring a universal system, stresses that the technical standards, as esoteric as they are, can have a real economic and political impact, and “to a certain extent, enact public policy in areas that are traditionally carried out by governments.” DeNardis says, “They are the infrastructural foundations for global trade and the digital public sphere, but their design and constitution create public policy in areas as politically charged as privacy, accessibility and other individual civil liberties.” She adds, “The policy implications of Internet standards raise the obvious governance question of how these standards are procedurally established and by whom.”

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 08/19/2013

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AFRICA: Gambia - Government Warns of Massive Crackdown on Online Freedom

 

The government of the Gambia has given an indication of its readiness to fully implement the recently-passed draconian legislation which is meant to restrict online freedom. Head of Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, served notice of the government's intentions to crackdown on online freedom at a meeting held on August 8, 2013, with religious leaders and cabinet members at the official seat of government, the State House. The Minister, consequently warned Gambians, particularly the youth against participating in online campaigns against the government. "If you cannot say anything good about the country, then you should keep quiet," he exclaimed. The comments by Sabally comes at a time when various free expression organisations including the MFWA, have condemned the recently-passed law which prescribes stiffer punishment for persons found guilty of publishing "false news" online. The law imposes a jail term of 15 years and/or a fine of three million dalasis (about US$90,000) on persons who criticize government officials, caricature or instigate violence against the government through the internet.

 

What is more worrying is that, the religious leaders at the said meeting reportedly indicated their support for the government's plans to repress online freedom. Alieu Mboge, a spokesperson of the group is reported to have assured the cabinet that "we would do everything within our power to stop the youth both in and outside the country from any online criticism of the government." In a country where human rights advocacy by religious leaders is not tolerated, it is feared that the government may use this latest pronouncements by the religious leaders to legitimize its new policy of massively repressing internet freedom. We call on the religious leaders to recognize the importance of the internet, which remains the only platform for freedom of expression and participation in public discourse among Gambians, as traditional media outlets are already cowed from airing programmes which are critical of the government. Recognising that online activism has ensured justice and given hope to many citizens including the recently-freed Imam Baba Leigh, we urge the religious leaders to rather lead and support on going advocacy processes to improve the ever-deteriorating freedom of expression conditions in The Gambia.

From http://allafrica.com/ 08/15/2013

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EUROPE: E-Government Improving, but Citizens Want More, More, More

 

Almost half (46pc) of European Union (EU) citizens go online to use e-government services but many of them said they are more satisfied with online banking and online shopping than they are with online public services, a new report suggests. Nearly half of EU citizens now go online to look for a job, use the public library, file a tax return, register a birth, apply for a passport or use other e-government services, The eGovernment Benchmark 2012 report revealed. The report surveyed 28,000 internet users across 32 countries. Eighty per cent of survey respondents said online public services save them time, 76pc like the flexibility, and 62pc said it saves them money. However, these users are more satisfied with online banking (8.5 satisfaction rating on a scale of 0 to 10), and online shopping (7.6) than with public services online (6.5). Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Digital Agenda, said these are promising trends for e-government in Europe but “when users are more satisfied with online banking than online public services, it shows that public administrations must do better at designing e-government services around users’ needs. And we have to do more to make e-government work across borders.”

 

Areas for improvement

The report also signalled that improvements are needed to online services for important life events, such as losing or finding a job, setting up a company, and registering for educational courses/programmes. The Digital Agenda for Europe is working on it. The agenda aims to increase the use of e-government services to 50pc of EU citizens by 2015. EU citizens who now use e-government services and responded to the survey for the eGovernment Benchmark 2012 report also revealed the most popular e-government services: declaring income taxes (73pc of users declare taxes online), moving or changing address (57pc), and enrolling in higher education and/or applying for student grants (56pc). Most (54pc) of survey respondents still prefer face-to-face contact or other traditional channels with which to access government services. However, 30pc of these respondents said they could also be regular e-government users - if more relevant services were provided.

From http://www.siliconrepublic.com/ 06/05/2013

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European Dialogue on Internet Governance in Lisbon- How to Serve the Public Interest

 

The 6th edition of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), to be held in Lisbon on 20-21 June 2013, will bring together some 400 representatives from civil society, business, governments, parliaments and international organisations to discuss the most recent European developments concerning the Internet and the public policy challenges ahead. In six plenaries the participants will look for answers to the following questions: 

 

How to keep the Internet safe, free and open? Regulations, laws, agreements, self-regulatory initiatives can contribute to a framework which helps to keep Internet safe, free and open. But is an Internet specific regulation needed? What are the risks and the advantages? What are the options? What are the implications of privacy and e-commerce for children and young people? Are they aware that social platforms are business models which use personal data as a form of currency that can be transferred to third parties? Is it possible to secure their privacy from commercial abuse? What is the public interest? Different Internet stakeholders claim to act in the public interest, but how can the public interest be defined when we refer to the Internet? Under which jurisdiction(s) are European citizens online? When online European citizens can be subject to multiple rules according to their place of residence, the services they use, as well as the location of the servers and DNS operators involved. How should this be addressed? How can governments, industry and users do to fight cybercrime and safeguard cybersecurity? Who makes money with content and who should pay for it? Can copyright protect quality journalism? Do content aggregators promote access in the public interest? How should content be regulated?

 

In addition, eight workshops will address issues such as the governance challenges of IP address management, how the copyright framework in Europe affects access to culture, network neutrality, security of the Internet and initiatives to protect the rights of Internet users. The debates will also tackle how to extend Internet access to all citizens how to tackle hate speech online, and the challenges that Connected TV creates: how will broadcasting TV regulations affect access to the Internet via TV screens? Shortly after the EuroDIG, the “Messages from Lisbon”, a document containing its main outcomes, will be published. It will be presented at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) taking place from 22 to 25 October 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.

From http://www.eurodig.org/ 06/11/2013

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Europeans Dominate Political Twitter Rankings

 

Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt has taken the title of best connected world leader on Twitter 2013 – with last year's champion tweeter Herman Van Rompuy slipping out of the top 10 in a list dominated by Europeans. Bildt has 44 mutual connections with other major political players on the social networking site – meaning he follows them and they follow him back – according to the annual Twiplomacy study produced by the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. The next best connected accounts are those run by Catherine Ashton's European Union foreign service, and those of the foreign ministries of Poland, the United Kingdom and France. European Council President Van Rompuy drops from first place last year to 11th, despite increasing his mutual connections with other world leaders from 11 to 19. Among the top 15 accounts, only one represents a non-European country – that of the Israeli foreign office. The others include British foreign minister William Hague, Finland's Europe minister Alexander Stubb, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and the European Commission. All 45 European governments have a Twitter presence, the study says. Bildt played down the importance of his global connections on the social networking site, tweeting that his first place "sounds exaggerated". But the study reveals the growing importance of official political activity on Twitter, with almost 78 per cent of United Nations countries having an account of some sort – whether an automated news feed or personal profiles of senior figures.

 

Although Sweden's Bildt is connected to more of his political peers than any other world leader, his overall 212,000 followers pale into insignificance compared to the 33 million-plus people that track United States President Barack Obama. Yet Obama and the other US government accounts are among the worst connected, mutually following just four world leaders. After the US president, Pope Francis is the next most followed leader with seven million devotees across several accounts, with the White House's combined English and Spanish-language profiles in third place. Turkey's President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make the top five with 3.4 million followers each. The UK government's account is also in the top 10 most followed. However, while the number of people followed and following political accounts is growing, the active engagement of world leaders on Twitter still varies. While a third of the 505 accounts analysed are personal profiles of heads of state and government and foreign ministers, only a third do the tweeting themselves and only 14 do so on a regular basis. Uganda's Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi is the most conversational world leader on Twitter. In Europe, the study highlights Bildt, Stubb, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as among the best for producing thought-provoking tweets and replying to followers.

From http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/ 07/24/2013

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Moldova Builds E-Government: Mobile Digital Signature

 

Conversations about e-government excellence and best practices usually centre around countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Finland, or the USA. In Eastern Europe, however, the tiny, land-locked Republic of Moldova is making a name for itself in this field. One of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova (population 3.5 million) is emerging as a great example of public sector modernisation. The e-Government Centre (eGC), formed in August 2010, is responsible for the implementation of the e-government agenda of Moldova. FutureGov spoke to several senior officials in the eGC to understand the development and implementation of the major projects underway in Moldova. “Moldova has learned from Singapore, Estonia, Austria, the United Kingdom, and lately, New Zealand and Australia”, says Stela Mocan, Executive Director of the e-Government Centre. “We don’t have much legacy infrastructure or services in place, so we have the opportunity to implement the most innovative initiatives in Moldova”.

 

The eGC is implementing the ‘Strategic Program for Governance Technological Modernisation’, Moldova’s first government technology strategy. “The strategy has two objectives”, says Mocan. “The first is to digitise and put online all public services by 2020, and the second is to use technology within the government to become more efficient”. The government is deploying various services to achieve these objectives while building a strong foundation to enable e-services. Mocan discussed the development of the mobile digital signature (MDS) in Moldova to allow citizens to securely access new and old online services. The digital signature works as identification in the virtual world, allowing users to authenticate themselves in cyberspace by receiving a confirmation message on their cell phone that they can validate with a PIN. Citizens can sign papers, reports, or formal declarations, and submit online requests through their mobile phone. 

 

Services such as e-licensing and tax declaration already accept MDS – businesses can apply for licenses such as social or medical insurance licenses online with authentication through MDS. Citizens can file taxes online using their MDS. “In the upcoming months, we will launch many more services for both citizens and businesses that will integrate with MDS”, declares Mocan. “We want to make it easier for citizens and businesses to use electronic services”, Mocan continues. “The mobile digital signature is very easy to use, and since its launch last September, has been free to use to facilitate quick uptake. We are working with two mobile operators, which together control 98 per cent of Moldova’s mobile market, to implement this project”. The public-private partnership model has worked well for eGC. The mobile operators conduct advocacy campaigns to inform citizens about MDS, and undertake citizen registration for MDS. The government, on the other hand, is integrating the existing electronic services with the mobile signature to allow citizens and businesses to use it to access as many services as possible.

 

While MDS is free to use for now, a nominal fee will be imposed after July 2013 – 10 lei (US$0.8) for 10 signatures per month for individuals, and 50 lei (US$3.9) for 1000 signatures per month for businesses. Mocan also mentioned that the MDS project was an upgrade of an existing digital signature project that the eGC had in place earlier. “Since 2006, the government has had the option of using digital signatures through special chips in laptops”, she says. “That method, however, was very expensive for citizens, as each chip cost 300 lei (US$30). The mobile signature has the same legal power and capability, but is portable and much cheaper. Developing a mobile signature also made sense for Moldova since the mobile penetration rate in the country is 127 per cent. “The penetration rate of mobile internet is increasing too – it’s currently at 30 per cent”, Mocan informs us. “One in two Moldovans have access to internet. We are among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of internet speed. These factors enable and push us to look for the most innovative technologies to change the way government works and interacts with citizens”.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/11/2013

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Moldova Builds E-Government: G-Cloud and E-Services

 

In Eastern Europe, the tiny, land-locked Republic of Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe with a population of 3.5 million, is emerging as a great example of public sector modernisation. The e-Government Centre (eGC), formed in August 2010, is responsible for the implementation of the e-government agenda of Moldova. FutureGov spoke to Stela Mocan, Executive Director of the e-Government Centre, about the development and implementation of the major e-government projects, such as Government Cloud, or as it’s called in Moldova, M-Cloud.

 

Government Cloud

The M-Cloud programme was launched in February this year. “We use cloud computing technology to address some of the challenges that we have in government”, says Mocan. “Every ministry invests huge funds in hardware servers which they use at a limited capacity. M-cloud provides these services at low investment”. Many ministries have started migrating their information systems and services to M-cloud. “The Prime Minister approved a ‘Cloud-First Policy’ in 2011, requiring ministries to invest in digitising services and not in hardware”, Mocan informs us. “The ministries have to move their systems and services into M-cloud. We are visiting ministries and explaining to them, face-to-face, the opportunities and capabilities of M-cloud”. M-Cloud offers many different services to government agencies, such as authentication and access control (security related tasks including identity management and transaction authorisation), payment services (allowing agencies to accept electronic payments), and notification services (allowing agencies to send notifications to citizens). The eGC is working with the IT departments of many countries in the European Union to develop projects such as M-Cloud. “We have synchronised our initiatives with the European Union agenda”, states Mocan. “Our projects are funded by loans from the World Bank, though some are co-funded by our government”.

 

E-services

Another major project that eGC launched last year is an e-services portal for citizens. Launched in May 2012, the portal is a gateway to all electronic services offered by the Modovan government. The portal also provides details on all traditional, non-electronic government services. Currently, 331 services are listed on the portal, while 72 are e-services. FutureGov spoke to Victoria Rosca, Executive Consultant at the eGC, about the e-services offered to citizens. “One of our most popular e-service is the e-criminal record certificate”, says Rosca. “The service certifies that the applicant does not have a criminal record or action pending against them. Almost 90 per cent of citizens who apply for the certificate, such as students applying for academic programmes abroad or citizens applying for visas for other countries, do it online through the e-services portal”. Business owners can now apply for licenses for more than 30 types of business activities online through the portal. “Many of these e-services are already connected with the mobile digital signature”, says Rosca. The mobile digital signature allows citizens to authenticate their identities through their mobile devices to access public services. The eGC has created video guides uploaded to its YouTube page on using the e-services offered on the portal.

 

Payment gateway

Another initiative that the eGC has developed and launched in April this year is a government payment gateway which will allow citizens to pay online for public services such as population documentation services or traffic fines. “We have run consultations with the National Bank, Ministry of Finance, and private banks”, states Mocan. “The process lasted more than one and a half years. We have integrated different payment operators, allowing citizens to pay via credit card, online banking. If PayPal comes to Moldova, we’ll integrate that too”. The eGC is currently working on the development of a government interoperability platform that is scheduled for launch in late 2013. The platform will facilitate the exchange of information and data among government agencies, and enhanced connectedness and communication. Citizens will be able to offer personal data to government only once, and public institutions will be able to reuse this data for the delivery of services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/19/2013

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Moldova Builds E-Government: Open Data

 

In Eastern Europe, the tiny, land-locked Republic of Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe with a population of 3.5 million, is emerging as a great example of public sector modernisation. The e-Government Centre (eGC), formed in August 2010, is responsible for the implementation of the e-government agenda of Moldova. FutureGov spoke to Irina Tisacova, Open Government Coordinator at the eGC, about the open government policies of the Moldovan government. “Moldova joined the Open Government Partnership in April last year”, says Tisacova. “We released an open government action plan in January last year, consulting with citizens and the civil society through meetings and online platforms”. The open data portal of Moldova – data.gov.md – was launched in April 2011, the first open government data platform in Eastern Europe. Every ministry has officials responsible for publishing the ministry’s data on the portal. The eGC is trying to coordinate the open data effort to bring smaller agencies on board too. The portal currently offers more than 660 datasets from nearly 40 organisations. “The open government action plan defined a list of datasets to be released by the end of 2013”, explains Tisacova. “More than 80 per cent of that data has been released. We are continuing our collaboration with civil society to identify further areas of interest for data releases”.

 

Surprisingly, Moldova is facing the unique problem of lack of demand for open data from civil society or citizens, unlike most governments which release data due to public pressure. “We are holding events to generate interest and awareness around open data”, Tisacova informs us. “We worked with the World Bank for an ‘Open Innovation Week’, informing people about the use of open data. We have also held trainings to increase popularity of data journalism and app development based on open data”. Awareness and interest in open data is rising. “For example, an NGO is Moldova is working on a project called Budget Stories”, says Tisacova. “The project will essentially release budget information in the form of infographics to create stories behind the facts. In another instance, some students are combining different maps with geographic data, creating maps which will even help the government visualise some national problems”. The Moldovan government is currently assessing the progress of its open government initiative. “We are also collaborating with civil society to determine the monitoring mechanisms of the implementation of the action plan”, says Tisacova. “The development of an action plan for 2014 will start soon”.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/27/2013

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E-Government in Romania – From ‘Nice-To-Have’ to ‘Must-Have’

 

The World Bank and the Romanian Ministry for Information Society hosted a workshop entitled “e-Government Transformation: Moving from Nice-to-Have to Must-Have” in Bucharest on May 30th as part of the Bank’s regional work on the Smart Specialization and Digital Agenda. Experts and key practitioners from the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) field, as well as local attendees that work in ICT sectors across the Romanian Government, shared their experiences with e-Government. The workshop was designed as an exchange on strategies, frameworks, and approaches developed by the EU, and already successfully implemented in different countries. “Romania has embarked on an ambitious project of aligning itself to the latest trends in e-Government and introducing the most advanced electronic systems in providing public services to its citizens,” said Dan Nica, Minister for Information Society. “This means reshaping the administrative procedures and flows based on individual life-events. This approach is reflected in the new National Strategy, the Digital Agenda for Romania, and in several recent projects such as the Online Issuance of Civil Status Documents and the e-Agricultural Registry.” “With e-Government, citizens and businesses have easier access to government agencies and institutions electronically, thus avoiding having to wait in line or dealing with paper documents.  e-Government provides better services in half the time for half as much,” said Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager in Romania. “e-Government is not just about enabling existing processes by using digital means. It involves rethinking and transforming the ways government institutions operate, with the citizens’ benefits and expectations at the core of such re-conceptualization.”

 

The workshop showed how to bridge the knowledge gap between policy makers and implementers to enable strong and continuous collaboration across institutions. Participants discussed the upcoming trends so that they can be factored into an e-Government strategy and the basket of services that are being conceptualized. The participants approached the ability of various organizations with diverse systems to work together for information exchange, as well as issues related to user authentication, sign-on, data protection, and secure access across institutions. The World Bank had similar positive experiences in Romania, including its most recently completed Knowledge Economy project, implemented by the Ministry of Information Society in collaboration with other ministries. The Knowledge Economy Project accelerated the participation of 255 knowledge disadvantaged communities within the knowledge-based society and economy in Romania. The project was recognized for its success by many national and international institutions, including the European Commission, the European Institution of Public Administration, and the International Project Management Association, among others.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 06/05/2013

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LATIN AMERICA: Chile Leads LAC in UN E-Government Ranking

 

Chile is the leading Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) country in the United Nation's (UN) 2012 global e-government survey, and was ranked number 39 worldwide. Colombia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil were other highly-ranked countries in Latin America and were all rated among the top 60 countries worldwide for e-government. The highest-ranked Central American country was Panama, at number 66 worldwide, followed by El Salvador and Costa Rica. The lowest-ranked Latin American countries were Haiti at number 187 worldwide, Nicaragua at number 130 worldwide, Belize at number 124 and Suriname at 116, the UN report said. The South America, Central America and Mexico and Caribbean regions all improved their average e-government indicators between 2010 and 2012. A key pillar of the Latin American e-government strategy has been to take advantage of social networking media features to promote citizens' online participation, especially among the younger demographic, according to the report.

 

The UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have prepared a framework for developing e-government indicators along with a set of globally comparative e-government core indicators and statistical standards. The UN's e-government ranking is based on components including online service, telecommunications infrastructure and human capital. Colombia was the highest ranking country for online services, followed by Chile, Mexico and Brazil, while the lowest ranking countries for online services in the region were Haiti, Guyana, Dominica and Jamaica. Antigua and Barbuda ranked highest for telecommunications infrastructure in Latin America, followed by Barbados, Dominica and the Bahamas. The lowest-ranked countries for telecoms infrastructure in Latin America were Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Belize. Meanwhile, Cuba ranked highest in the region and third highest worldwide for human capital, based on the level of adult literacy and education enrollment, with Barbados, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile also ranking highly on this measure. In terms of e-participation, Colombia was the most highly-ranked country in Latin America, followed by Chile, Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil. The lowest-ranked Latin American countries for e-participation were Suriname, Jamaica, Haiti, and Guyana.

From http://www.bnamericas.com/ 07/24/2013

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Latvia Ready to Share E-Administration Experience

 

Latvia is ready to share its experience of introducing electronic administration and electronic services, facilitating the development of open, responsible and transparent administration institutions, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Reform Party) pointed out during the 3rd High Level Conference of the Freedom Online Coalition in Tunis, Tunisia. As an example, Rinkevics mentioned Latvia's recently launched cooperation projects in the Central Asia region, LETA was informed by the Foreign Ministry's Press and Information Division. The minister called for a continued enlargement of the coalition to include new member states, which would advance common efforts of promoting and protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights online. “It is important to give special attention to as broad as possible participation of member countries through the engagement of governments, business people, civil society and experts to seek solutions to facilitating internet freedom," emphasized Rinkevics. As the implementation of practical measures is important for achieving the coalition’s goals, the minister voiced support for setting up a workflow to carry out specific projects with the involvement of businesses and the non-governmental sector. Rinkevics also drew participants’ attention to the fact that the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online will be one of major topics during Latvia's presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2015.

From http://www.baltic-course.com/ 06/30/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Budget Watchdog Data Shows Bureaucracy Grew Under Harper

 

The Conservative government has made it clear that curbing public service costs is a key part of its agenda as it heads into the second half of Stephen Harper's majority mandate. But budget measures and ministerial musings about everything from public sector pensions to the collective bargaining process and even sick leave may obscure the bureaucracy sprawl under the Conservative watch. New data published by the Parliamentary Budget Office has tracked annual civil service payroll numbers by job classification and by federal department, and both are illuminating. The PBO spread sheets reveal the number of individuals on the federal payroll rose 14 per cent between the end of the 2005-06 fiscal year, when Harper's Conservatives came to office, and 2012. Information services employees were up 15.3 per cent, administrative services rose 20 per cent, financial management staff jumped 35 per cent and welfare program employees were up 43 per cent, according to the PBO.

 

The departmental breakdown shows dramatic increases in the country's security, corrections and spy bureaucracies but some surprising shrinkage in other areas — including the Finance department, Industry Canada, and the Privy Council Office that serves the prime minister. The largest staff increases came at the Canadian Border Services Agency, which grew by 5,200 employees, or 54.6 per cent, and the Correctional Service of Canada, up by 4,516 staff or 31 per cent. The RCMP's civilian staff grew by 40 per cent, adding 1,787 employee to reach 6,210 on the payroll, and Public Safety Canada added 388 people to the payroll, more than 53 per cent. Public Safety officials said the PBO numbers reflect part-timers, term employment and job sharing, and that when converted to full-time equivalents "the departmental workforce has in fact increased by only 35.56 per cent." Spokeswoman Josee Picard said departmental increases reflect "strengthening emergency management capacity, critical infrastructure protection and federal emergency response capacity."

 

The RCMP says public service staff now account for 25 per cent of the force, up from 21 per cent in April 2006. Spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gagnon says the change partially reflects "civilianizing" operational support and administration jobs. The Canadian Security Establishment added 587 employees, a 42 per cent increase, while FINTRAC — the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada which tracks money laundering, organized crime and terrorist financing — almost doubled its staff to 376 from 200, an 88 per cent spike. The Department of National Defence was up by 6,199 civilian staff, or 29.5 per cent. Other smaller agencies under the public safety rubric — such as the National Parole Board, the Public Prosecutors Office and the office of the Correctional Investigator — also grew by factors greater than the overall public sector increase. The Justice department grew 10.7 per cent between 2006 and 2012, less than the overall growth in the federal civil service. The Harper government's preoccupation with justice and security issues is part of the Conservative party brand, so the big civil service staff increases in these areas come as little surprise. Other growth areas are more surprising.

 

Federal payroll rose 14 per cent

Aboriginal Affairs grew almost 38 per cent, according to the PBO numbers, adding 1,481 people to the payroll. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency almost doubled, to 240 people on the payroll in 2012 from 127 in 2006. But some other priority government departments have not witnessed any growth, and indeed may have grown smaller. The powerful Finance department lost 22 per cent of its staff and, with 781 people on the payroll in 2012, was at its smallest size since the late 1990s when Liberal government cuts had taken their toll. Finance spokesman Jack Aubrey said the reduction can mainly be attributed to the transfer of "shared corporate services" personnel over to the Treasury Board. Indeed, Treasury Board ballooned 163 per cent as various services were consolidated in the department. Citizenship and Immigration, another area of much Conservative policy revision, was down 8.3 per cent, Canadian Heritage was down almost seven per cent and Industry Canada was down 10 per cent.

 

"By 2015 the Department of Canadian Heritage will be nearly 40 per cent smaller than it was at the start of the economic downturn in 2008," said Jessica Fletcher, a spokeswoman for Heritage Minister James Moore. Departmental figures show that arts funding transfers have remained stable. "We cut the bureaucracy and protected funding for Canadians outside Ottawa who needed it most," Fletcher said in an email. Natural Resources Canada, which has been spending millions of dollars advertising its "responsible resource development" mantra, had 1.4 per cent fewer employees on the payroll in 2012 than in 2006. Library and Archives Canada was down less than one per cent. Perhaps most surprising, given popular talk of the growth and control of the Prime Minister's Office and its bureaucratic support arm, the Privy Council Office, PCO staff numbers fell more than four per cent — to 892 staff from 932 — between 2006 and 2012. Much has been made of spending cuts in the Conservative government's 2012 budget, which proposed slashing 19,000 positions from the federal public service over five years. According the PBO data, more than 34,000 individuals were added to the public payroll between 2006 and 2012.

From http://www.cbc.ca/ 06/29/2013

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U.S.: The Google Perspective - Gigabit Internet in Local Governments

 

April was big for high-speed Internet news. First Austin, Texas, announced it would join Kansas City to become the next local government to receive the Google Fiber treatment. Then Provo, Utah, joined the list, as Google plans to overhaul the city’s existing network. The Internet giant also is spreading its fiber buildout from Kansas City to the adjacent regions. Many have questioned whether Google may eventually spread its networks across the entire nation, offering gigabit access for all. Though it seems feasible given the interest Google has shown in fiber, there are many reasons we won't ever see massive deployment, the most notable reasons being costs and regulations. The Internet today is like an ’88 Michael Jordan: Everyone knew there was something great there, but they didn’t know he was going to win six championships and completely transform the game. Despite the difficulty in creating a nationwide gigabit network, such a thing has the potential to unlock applications and capability not yet dreamed of. Google Senior Communications Associate Jenna Wandres recently said that high-speed Internet really is the future and that governments have and will continue to play an important role in that development. “If you look at innovation of Web services right now, we’re kind of hitting the ceiling imposed by today’s Web speeds,” she said. “Here at Google and [at] many other companies we’ve talked to, large and small, engineers have these great ideas for products that they want to deploy to customers, but Web speeds are just draining their ability to do that. We really believe that this is an investment in the future of the Web.”

 

Ubiquitous Internet Is a Right

Whether it’s for entertainment, education or health care, there are a host of concepts that are not possible because of limited Internet speeds and availability. Having Internet connectivity doesn’t just change how a person conducts research or interacts with others, it transforms culture on a large scale. In regions where Internet availability is scarce, junior-high and high-school students bring their laptops to McDonalds to take advantage of the free Internet access -- but they shouldn’t have to, Wandres said. “Can you imagine if a teacher could send home with every single one of her students an assignment to do research on the Internet and know that they all had access at home?” she said, adding that Internet access is something we should be able to take for granted – it’s fundamentally important. And last year, the United Nations Human Rights council affirmed the importance of Internet access in a resolution, deeming it a basic human right. “When you make an investment in ubiquitous high-speed broadband throughout a community," Wandres said, "it makes the community stronger, too." More Internet is a good deal all-around, which is why Google seems to think building out gigabit fiber is a no-brainer from both business and cultural perspectives. Gigabit ubiquity could open the door to changes in health care that could allow doctors to meet remotely with patients or share information digitally. For education, health care, entertainment and economic growth, Internet can strengthen communities, Wandres said. “Something like 97 percent of Internet users look online for local goods and services,” she said, “So, if you’re a small business and you’re not online, you’re missing out on a huge percentage of business. That’s a huge economic impact.”

 

What Google Wants

The two new Google Fiber cities, Austin and Provo, are locales that lost out during the first Google Fiber competition -- but wouldn't take no for an answer. Each of the two cities had champions who continued pestering Google after the Kansas City announcement, just to show how much they, too, wanted Fiber. The tenacity and vision of Austin Council Member Laura Morrison and Provo Mayor John Curtis was representative of the spirit needed to make Google Fiber work, Wandres said, and eventually, each city got what it wanted. Google works closely with local governments to make sure the buildouts go smoothly, she said, and their participation and passion is indispensable. In Kansas City, there was a great demand from the population for gigabit Internet, which is the biggest reason Google chose the location as its first, Wandres said -- but it was city leaders who solidified the deal. Former Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Joe Reardon and Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James joined forces to create a bi-state innovation team after Kansas City had been chosen. “They wanted to become a shining fiber city so that everybody else who had the broadband dreams and aspirations could look at Kansas City and see some use cases for what fiber could really do for a community,”

 

Wandres said. “They published a report, and now they have a whole team working to implement some of those ideas. I think that’s a really great example of how city leadership can have a huge impact on deployment. … If a city leader develops a clear plan so that the community at large gets excited about Fiber and invested in Fiber, in general it’s going to be a much better outcome.” Google hopes to begin serving its first Austin fiber customers by mid-2014 and its first Provo customers by the end of this year, Wandres said. Provo, Austin and Kansas City are all locations with public demand for gigabit Internet, but they also have leaders with vision, Wandres said, and that’s what Google was looking for. “If you look across those three markets, you’ll find that the main common denominator is that they’re all emerging tech hubs,” she said. “They all have really strong startup scenes, they have a plethora of entrepreneurs, people who have great ideas and have tech skills, at least the excitement to carry out those ideas and really develop this next generation of gigabit applications that we believe the future of the web will be founded on.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 05/28/2013

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5 Lessons from Gov 2.0

 

Although government 2.0 has been around since Bill Eggers’ 2005 book Government 2.0, the term truly took over in 2008. After President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, his first memorandum in office was the Open Government Directive with its three pillars of creating a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government. This framework quickly spread from federal government down to state and local government and across the nation. So fast-forward five years and let’s ask what have we learned.

 

1. It’s about mission problems. At the beginning of gov 2.0, a lot of the initiatives and reported case studies were flashy, citizen-facing initiatives focused on crowdsourcing a new project or senior leaders using social media to engage with the public and share their message. While important, I’m excited to see the push in the last few years to use these approaches and ways of thinking to solve deeper problems — whether it is truly transforming the way we deliver health care or building software or helping with criminal justice decisions or reforming procurement.

 

2. It’s about sustainability. In the beginning of gov 2.0, many efforts were focused on quick wins such as launching a social media channel or highlighting an app created at a hackathon. However, we quickly discovered that sustainability is key and new solutions came about. Hackathons evolved so now the prize often is a one-year contract to grow and sustain the winning app. Code for America launched the Brigade to focus on growing and improving a key set of open source apps so folks don’t reinvent the wheel. And internal open government initiatives went from being side projects to receiving dedicated budget and resources for sustainability.

 

3. It’s about human capital. This movement is not just about technology — it’s mostly about people and new ways of thinking. Thus, agencies have taken new human capital approaches to these problems. Many cities have created chief digital officers, data officers and innovation officers — all roles that didn’t exist five years ago. Other cities, including Philadelphia and Boston, have set up a Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, as well as new programs like San Francisco’s Mayor’s Innovation Fellowship.

 

4. It’s not static. Five years ago, smartphones were used by only a small percentage of folks and today’s popular tablets hadn’t even been released. Now, nearly half of the U.S. population has a smartphone and more than 30 percent of people have a tablet, according to a recent Pew Internet study. Agencies have deployed mobile apps and optimized websites for citizens, while introducing tablets for various workflow functions ranging from permitting to city council meetings. For those heavily engaged with government 2.0 in the beginning, 2013 is radically different as the tools, form factors and potential have changed every year.

 

5. It’s more than open data. Of the Obama Open Government Directive’s three goals, transparency and open data have definitely gotten the most follow up, with a recent Open Data Initiative launched at the White House and open data initiatives taking root at the state and local levels. The open data movement has evolved greatly from simply putting a few data sets out there. Now the key is making that data usable via application programming interfaces so it can be quickly used in apps. There’s also been a big push to release important, high-quality data whether it is Medicare reimbursement rates or procurement information — important data that can drive real solutions.

 

Overall, a lot of progress has been made in five years. Besides the items above, it’s a cultural and mindset shift that we are seeing grow throughout government each year. Individuals and agencies are focusing on how to make important systemic change with new technology and approaches to improve government. As Bill Gates said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” I’m excited to see what comes next.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 06/12/2013

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The Government’s Data Center Count Has Doubled Since 2011

 

The current tally of data centers managed by the federal government is north of 6,000, up from about 3,000 a few months ago, according to an Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman. The apparent doubling of the government’s data center portfolio is due to a 2011 policy shift that drastically expanded what the government counts as a data center and to more rigorous agency inventories, as opposed to an increase in the actual number of data centers, spokeswoman Ari Isaacman Astles said. The government has been struggling to reduce its data center portfolio since 2010 as part of a larger effort to make government computing cheaper and more efficient. Officials have estimated the government can ultimately save between $3 billion and $5 billion by shifting to more efficient, virtualized data centers plus an additional $5 billion annually by shifting to computer clouds. The government spends about $80 billion annually on IT. Prior to October 2011, OMB defined a government data center as a dedicated space for computer servers and other equipment that was over 500 square feet. Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel expanded that definition to include much smaller server rooms and closets. At the time, VanRoekel estimated the new definition might raise the government’s data center count from 2,100 to about 2,800. That figure had climbed to 3,100 total data centers by December 2011. The additional 3,000 data centers were first disclosed by David Powner, the Government Accountability Office’s IT specialist, in June 11 testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We are three years into the data center consolidation effort and the government still does not know how many centers it has,” Powner told committee members. “Just last week we learned that about an additional 3,000 data centers are now being reported, bringing the government’s total north of 6,000 data centers.”

 

It’s not clear when agencies first reported the additional data centers to OMB. The office verified the 3,000 additional data centers figure in an email to Nextgov Friday. In March, OMB combined the data center consolidation initiative with PortfolioStat, a program to streamline how the government buys IT commodities such as wireless Internet, data storage and mobile phone services. One effect of the consolidated program was to deemphasize the total number of data centers the government closes and to focus instead on energy and cost savings from consolidation. The new plan requires agencies to shutter 40 percent or more of what it determines are “non-core data centers” and to reduce the cost and energy consumption of running the remaining “core data centers.” “Through this work, the administration has made significant progress in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our data centers and will continue to work to make progress in this area in the months and years ahead,” Astles said. The government has shuttered about 320 data centers since the beginning of its consolidation initiative. Official savings from the data center consolidation effort have been minimal so far and the government is unlikely to meet its initial goal of saving $3 billion from the initiative by 2015, Powner testified in May. VanRoekel has said total savings are likely to increase once all agencies have reported their likely savings. He has also said savings are likely to increase over time in a hockey stick pattern as more efficiency initiatives take effect.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 06/25/2013

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State Department Bureau Spent Thousands for Facebook Fans

 

A State Department bureau is more "well liked" on Facebook after two campaigns to increase its visibility on the social-networking site. The problem, however, is it cost them $630,000 — and the increased number of "friends" may have little impact on how it meets its mission. State's inspector general said in a recent report that the Bureau of International Information Programs' (IIP) campaigns succeeded in gaining more than 2.5 million fans, though the percent of fans actually engaging with Facebook pages was just more than two percent. Fans mostly engaged in the form of "liking" posts, and many of the postings had fewer than 100 comments or shares, the report said. The most popular posts had several hundred shares. "Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as 'buying fans' who may have once clicked on an ad or 'liked' a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further," the report stated. "Defenders of advertising point to the difficulty of finding a page on Facebook with a general search and the need to use ads to increase visibility." But these efforts may not matter in the end as Facebook changed the way its site displays information on users' newsfeeds in September.

 

Now, if a user does not regularly engage with a particular page, that page's posts will stop appearing on the user's newsfeed. Page owners, however, can buy story ads to ensure that their posts appear on newsfeeds regardless of user engagement. Due to this change, having a large, unengaged fan base means that the bureau must continually buy sponsored story ads for its pages, or else "reach" statistics will fall dramatically, the report stated. The report said the department needs to consider the value of having more social media fans. "The bureau could reduce spending and increase strategic impact by focusing its advertising not on raising overall fan numbers or general engagement statistics but on accomplishing specific [public diplomacy] goals," the report said. The report also pointed to two overlapping offices, the Office of Innovative Engagement and the Office of Web Engagement, and suggested their respective roles be clarified. IIP paused its Facebook advertising program to assess its social media goals during the IG inspection, the report stated.

From http://www.federalnewsradio.com/ 07/03/2013

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Government Has Dropped the Ball on IT Reform, Lawmaker Says

 

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., lashed out at government technology leaders on Wednesday for being slow to adopt cost-saving reforms laid out early in the Obama administration and for failing to adequately report their progress. Federal agencies and the White House Office of Management and Budget have been too slow to consolidate data centers and to shift data storage and operations to computer clouds, Connolly told the audience at an event sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “I stand before you today feeling that the federal government has slackened its embrace of the 25-Point Plan laid out by Vivek Kundra,” Connolly said, referring to the 2010 government technology overhaul penned by the former U.S. chief information officer. Connolly is ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s operations panel, which oversees a large share of federal technology spending. He criticized officials for failing to meaningfully report on a 25-Point Plan requirement that all agencies move at least three high-priority systems to the cloud by mid-2012. He also faulted OMB for not forcing agencies to report their progress on a separate mandate to consolidate federal data centers and for not appearing at a field hearing on the topic held in his district in May.

 

The Government Accountability Office testified during that hearing that only five of 24 agencies had reported estimated data center consolidation savings through 2014 and that those savings totaled less than $700 million, far shy of the $3 billion in savings originally promised by 2015. Connolly also faulted officials for approving less than half a dozen companies so far through the government’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which certifies cloud vendors that are secure enough to provide services to the government. “I think there’s great hope, there’s great opportunity, but at the moment I think the federal government as an entity has fallen behind on what had been an exciting opportunity to catch up,” Connolly said. “My hope is that as we move forward all of us can try to find ways to encourage and exhort and pressure the federal government to come into the 21st century with management changes and allocation and investment changes that will better serve the country.” Connolly co-sponsored legislation with House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that would overhaul how the government purchases and manages technology. A version of the bill, known as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, was included as an amendment in the Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House in June. The White House has not endorsed the measure.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 07/10/2013

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Industry Perspective: State Government Leads President’s E-Government Charge

 

As state government has already proven, it's possible for government to be smarter, more innovative and more responsive -- and it can be done at the federal level too. On Monday, July 8, President Obama outlined the “Management Agenda for Government Innovation” to make government smarter, more innovative and more responsive. But what does a country with a more innovative and more responsive government look like? I believe federal government agencies can turn to their peers within state government for a view of how e-government is alive and well today. For example, in his address, President Obama mentioned, “…websites [that] help fill in some of your information so you don’t have to enter it every time you log in.” This is exactly the type of service that state government agencies have had in place for years. For example, several states have a form of a “Business OneStop,” which allows entrepreneurs to complete forms once, and find all of the necessary forms and filings required to start, grow or close a business. While it may be called other things, such as a central business registration and licensing system, there are various examples of how this centralized business service is breaking down silos within state government and removing duplication all in an effort to make government smarter.

 

As the title of his management agenda states, the President’s overall focus is on making government more innovative. Oftentimes it is new innovation that also makes our lives safer. Again, look no further than to state government to find examples of e-government innovation that also delivers a safety benefit to our communities. From New Jersey to Montana, many states have an online service in place referred to as temporary vehicle tag registration. In these states, dealerships no longer have to maintain an inventory of pre-printed temporary vehicle tags to place on the vehicles they sell. Instead, when a vehicle is purchased, the information is entered into a database that generates a custom tag for that particular vehicle and owner. Plus, the information is immediately recorded with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This provides added safety to law enforcement officers when they pull over a car with temporary tags. Now an officer can access the database to uncover information about the vehicle that has been stopped, helping the officer better understand the situation. The President also shared his vision of a more responsive government – one in which you could track your transactions with government similar to how you can monitor your online retail purchase from payment all the way to delivery at your doorstep.

 

The states also have this one down. In Utah, for instance, the Bill Watch app allows individuals to track bills by topic, bill number and a legislator’s name. Once a bill is selected for tracking, the user receives instant notifications on their mobile device as the bill changes status and moves through the legislature. And residents of Kentucky can track how their tax dollars are spent through the new Citizen Tax Calculator. An individual can enter the amount of state taxes they paid and see specifically how it was spent by the state as it delves into more than 100 subcategories of expenditures. As state government has already proven, it is possible for government to be smarter, more innovative and more responsive. State government should be proud of its efforts -- efforts that can be made at the federal level too. There are plenty of recent examples that can be leveraged to deliver results quickly.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/16/2013

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State Department IG Highly Critical of IT Sub-bureau

 

When running a department, it is a good idea to have a mission statement, strategic planning and a workload that justifies its organizational structure and the millions of dollars of taxpayer money it receives each year. The State Department's Bureau of Information Resource Management, Office of Information Assurance (IRM/IA) has none of those things, according to a State Department's Office of Inspector General audit released in July, and further lacks controls and procedures to monitor contracts, task orders and blanket purchase agreements totaling $79 million. IRM/IA, established in 2003 to comply with the Title III of the E-Government Act, was formed to address information security requirements, yet OIG found the majority of those functions are performed in other State Department offices. The audit criticized the bureau's certification and accreditation operations (C&A) because mishandling of these processes – as well as guidance and reviews of C&A packages – contributed to expired authorizations to operate (ATOs) for 52 of the State Department's 309 systems. Some delinquent systems have been operating on expired authorizations for more than two years, the audit states.

 

IRM/IA – with its staff of 22 full-time employees and 36 contract employees, and its $10 million operating budget – plays a lead role in overseeing the State Department's cyber-security program, including information assurance policies, standards and guidelines, and compliance with national security directives. Yet its sister departments do most of the heavy lifting, the OIG report states, including management and oversight of the State Department's information systems, which include its classified and unclassified networks. Personnel in other IRM departments are responsible keeping watch against cyber-attacks and risk measures, as well as desktop security guidelines. "IRM/IA performs a limited number of information assurance functions, does not have a lead role in most of the functions it does perform and, for the most part, only compiles information generated by others," the report states, before concluding the bureau's realignment request to create a fourth division was not justified. "In light of the lack of active involvement in many of its stated responsibilities, the proposed IRM/IA office realignment for an additional deputy position and one more division, as well as the need for some of the current divisions, are not justified by the current level of work being performed," the audit states. Not surprisingly, the audit was critical of the bureau's head, Chief Information Security Officer William Lay, who accepted the position in September 2012. Lay, the report stated, did a good job on arrival rebuilding relationships internally and externally with IRM/IA, but he has not addressed critical management issues. He also isn't in the office much, according to OIG, so staff is often left wondering what to do.

 

"The CISO has not provided division chiefs with priorities based on defined goals, as a result, the staff is not proactive in meeting information security requirements," OIG states. "The CISO held nine staff meetings in the first 6 months after his arrival. IRM/IA staff commented that those meetings normally do not provide clarity on what the CISO considers to be office priorities. Many staff commented that they are unaware of the CISO's activities in general and are unable to obtain those answers since he is not seen regularly in the office." The audit's recommendations to IRM/IA total more than 30 formal directives and several informal ones as well. Chief among them was requesting the Bureau of Human Resources to direct the Office of Resource Management and Organizational Analysis to conduct an organization assessment of IRM/IA, and determine what similar functions are being performed by other State Department offices. The OIG also said that IRM/IA needs a mission statement that includes short-term and long-term priorities and goals for its office and each of its three divisions. A State Department spokesman said little in response to FCW, writing in a brief statement: "The Department takes the OIG feedback seriously and is committed to addressing the recommendations and the concerns that led to the assessment."

From http://fcw.com/ 07/19/2013

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White House Unveils CIO Council 2.0

 

The White House released a plan on Friday to significantly streamline its top council of information technologists. The plan will slim down the 17-year-old Federal Chief Information Officers Council from six major committees and 29 subcommittees to just three committees focused on portfolio management, information security and identity management, and innovation. Those committees will report to a 14-member executive committee. The new council will also include three communities of practice focused on accessibility, privacy and the federal IT workforce, with room for new working groups as necessary, according to a reorganization plan. Some tasks previously managed by the council, such as establishing best practices and outreach, will be performed by council staff and contractors, the plan said. “Under the new structure, the CIO Council will become more agile in its approach to supporting key administration priorities and will continue to develop valuable tools, resources, and data for federal CIOs and their staffs,” the council said in a blog post. The new executive committee will be led by U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel.

 

Several executive committee members will represent key priorities. The innovation track, for instance, will be represented by General Services Administration CIO Casey Coleman and Homeland Security Department Deputy CIO Margie Graves. Security priorities will be represented by Defense Department Deputy CIO Robert Carey and Justice Department CIO Luke McCormack. The executive committee will be tasked with reviewing all council projects to ensure they align with government priorities, establishing criteria for projects and approving funding, the plan said. The CIO Council was established by executive order following passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act, the major 1996 overhaul of how the government buys and manages IT. It was written into law by the 2002 E-Government Act. Congress is currently working on a new IT buying overhaul known as the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. The bill was included as an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act and is awaiting discussion in the Senate. White House officials have expressed reservations about the congressional overhaul.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 08/09/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t to Widen Administrative Data Transparency

 

The Korean government will broaden the disclosure of administrative information except in cases of national security or personal privacy starting in 2014. President Park Geun-hye and heads of government organizations announced a basic plan called the “Government 3.0” vision which allows wider public access to government data. This initiative refers to the Park Geun-hye administration’s government reform drive to boost transparency, information sharing, communication, and cooperation in overall state affairs management.  “Government 3.0 goes beyond the information disclosure,” said President Park at a ceremony held at the Central Government Complex in Seoul on June 19. “This means a paradigm change in all state affairs which pursues people-centered management from the existing state-centered one.” Under the announced plan, public access will be broadened to administrative data collected by all government organizations, including central and regional governments, state-run committees, and state-invested institutions, starting next year. This vision will apply to all forms of administrative information in all stages of the policy-making process from preparation to implementation. So far, public access was allowed to only 0.3 percent of the total administrative data and only lists of documents were available unless an applicant submits disclosure requests. 

Under the initiative, the government will extend the scope of public data disclosure to 6,150 items by 2017 from the existing 2,260 items. Public organizations will also raise the disclosure scale of the predicted number of 15,700 source data items to 40 percent by 2017 from the current level of 14 percent. The government will set up an online participation channel composed of ordinary citizens and experts in the decision-making process. It will also widen public access to administrative data from the government and public organizations for people, firms, and institutions to share and use for commercial purposes. To this aim, the government will open administrative information to the public in climate, transport, welfare, finance, and geography, all of which receive a high number of disclosure requests from the private sector. It will also make a five-year information disclosure roadmap based on the total inspection of administrative data owned by public organizations. The government expects that the widened public access to information disclosure will generate 150,000 jobs and create an economic effect worth KRW 24 trillion. To this goal, the government will make detailed support plans to implement administrative information disclosure and form a cooperative structure involving related government bodies -- the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, and the Small and Medium Business Administration.  To boost accuracy of information, the government will upgrade the quality of administrative data and create an integrated data provision channel online (data.go.kr) in order to enhance public access.  Minister of Security and Public Administration Yoo Jeong-bok said that the Government 3.0 vision “reflects the [Park Geun-hye administration’s] will to boost transparency of government data and state affairs management.” 

From http://www.korea.net 06/20/2013

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Seoul to Carry Out Education Program on E-Gov't

 

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will offer education on e-government for civil servants of member cities of the World e-Government Organization of Cities and Local Governments. The program will run for a week from Sunday at the Seoul Human Resource Development Center. Eighteen civil servants from Barcelona and eleven other cities will take part in the program that includes field trips and opportunities to experience traditional Korean culture. Around 300 civil servants from cities in Kenya, India, Poland and Ghana have taken part in Seoul’s e-government program so far this year. In particular, the upcoming program will focus on cooperative e-government centered on big data and mobile services.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 06/21/2013

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Defense Ministry Bans Smartphone Use Inside Its Office

 

The defense ministry began to implement a new policy Monday banning employees from using Internet-enabled smartphones capable of taking photos within its building to prevent the leaking of confidential information with the high-end devices. Under the stricter security policy, smartphone users are required to install a special application on the device that paralyzes its camera and voice recording functions, in order to pass through security check points and enter the Seoul building Developed by the ministry's security team, the application only allows for the use of basic functions on Android phones such as receiving and sending calls and text messages. Users of iPhones, operating on Apple's iOS software, can only receive calls and text messages.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/15/2013

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Kominfo DG Explains E-Govt Cooperation with Korea

 

Taking forward its vision of a more innovative, accountable and transparent government, Indonesia has embarked on developing e-government cooperation with South Korea. Dr. Ashwin Sasongko, Director-General of ICTApplication at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (KOMINFO) explains, “Minister of Bureaucratic Reform, Azwar Abubakar, on his visit to Korea three months ago, observed the central importance of e-governance for bureaucratic reform. After discussing with the Minister for ICT, Tifatul Sembiring, they agreed to develop cooperation with Korea on e-governance”. This e-government partnership with South Korea involves two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) relating to e-government. In early July, the Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform(PANRB) signed an agreement of cooperation for e-government support for bureaucratic reform in Indonesia with the South Korean government. Under this MoU, Indonesia and Korea agreed to collaborate on public administration to create a more transparent and accountable government. Followed by this, KOMINFO announced a partnership focusing onICT development in e-governance.

 

The latter agreement encompasses the exchange of e-government technology and expertise, as well as information on systems and services needed to deliver an effective e-government model to citizens. The two countries will be conducting joint research studies in the field of e-government, and will share their knowledge on trends and best practices. Explaining the overall direction of the two MoUs, Dr. Sasongko remarked, “One of the main programmes in Indonesia is reform for bureaucracy. We are working with Korea to see how ICT can support e-governance and then, how e-governance can support bureaucratic reform in Indonesia”. Indonesia has set up an e-government team with a steering committee chaired by the Minister of Bureaucratic Reform and Minister of ICT. “A few days ago, the Korean side proposed to Indonesia to set up a Joint Working Committee between the two countries to discuss in more details possible cooperation in the field”, added Dr. Sasongko. Out of almost 500 local government units in Indonesia, many have already developed e-governance, albeit to varying extents. For instance, Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city (population of 2.8 million) is setting up e-governance for community services.

 

KOMINFO also runs the Pemeringkatan e-Government Indonesia (PeGI) programme. Dr. Sasongko said, “This programme reviews each local government’s activities in e-governance to gauge if it is at the beginner or advanced level. This gives us a big picture of the local governments’ development of e-governance”. Dr. Sasongko said, “One plan is to talk with the local governments and see how the e-governance partnership with Korea can be done together with them, and perhaps, use 1-3 local governments as pilot projects for the partnership”. The Indonesian e-government team is scheduled to meet in a month to discuss possible opportunities in both the short- and the long-term, and talk with its Korean counterparts as to which particular projects can be done in cooperation with them. The Indonesian team is to finalise, by the end of this year, whether the focus of the partnership will be on short- or long-term programmes, after which it will go ahead with the pilot projects. South Korea has consistently been at the forefront of e-governance development. TheWaseda University Institute of e-Government in Japan ranked South Korea 4th in the world in its annual e-government ranking, and Indonesia 40th.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/01/2013

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Indonesia and Korea Sign MOU on E-Government                                        

 

The governments of Indonesia and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on e-government cooperation. Signed by Tifatul Sembiring, Indonesian Communication and Information Minister, and Yoo Jeong Bok, South Korean Security and Public Administration Minister, the MOU commits both countries to develop e-government on a “mutually beneficial and non-interference basis”. The agreement aims to help both countries enhance their cooperation in the development of e-government. The countries will exchange e-government technology and expertise, as well as information on systems and services needed to deliver an effective e-government model to citizens. The MOU also includes the sharing of experience in implementation and application of e-government services, and the exchange of expert personnel to strengthen the human resource capacity in this field in both countries. South Korea and Indonesia will be conducting joint research studies in the field of e-government, and will share their knowledge on trends and best practices. South Korea has consistently appeared in the top 10 ranks of e-government assessments around the world. The Waseda University Institute of e-Government in Japan, for example, released its annual e-government ranking earlier this year. South Korea was ranked fourth in the world, while Indonesia was ranked 40th.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/24/2013

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Myanmar and ADB Collaborate on E-Government Master Plan

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Myanmar are working on designing an e-governance masterplan for the country. The ADB is expected to invite shortlisted consulting firms to submit proposals this week for the USD 1.5 million project. Having recently opened its doors to international engagement, the Myanmar is undertaking efforts to gain and maintain competitiveness at a global level. The Government has formed an inter-ministerial task force for appraisal of public service performance to improve public service delivery with a focus on streamlining bureaucratic processes and eliminating red tape. Presidential Adviser, Aung Tun Thet, said, “Government working practices are changing to involve fewer people and rely more heavily on technology. While the Government had introduced an e-government system into ministries last year, it has not yet reached the level we want”. “The Myanmar Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is leading the e-government project and the budget is being made available to assist that process. We hope to develop it further in the future”, he added.

 

According to the ADB, one of the key issues facing the Government as it seeks to introduce ICT systems to strengthen public service performance is the lack of a coherent and systematic approach to the design, evaluation and adoption of such systems. This may lead to the development of e-government systems on an ad-hoc basis, which may prove to be inappropriate and incompatible to allow the agencies to effectively share information, says the ADB. “Therefore, such ICT solutions will have to be undertaken comprehensively by way of developing an e-Governance master plan, identifying and satisfying demand systematically”.  In order to support this initiative with skilled human resource, review of ICT capacity in academic institutions in Myanmar is also expected to take place. This may lead to capacity development and demonstration activities in order to improve the digital accessibility and cost-effectiveness of the institutions. The Government’s approval for the project is expected to be received in August, after which, the project will begin in September.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/12/2013

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MALAYSIA: Launching GIS-Based Dengue Monitoring Portal

 

In a bid to improve efforts to control, monitor, and respond to a rising number of dengue cases in the country, the Ministry of Health launched a GIS-based web portal called I-Dengue, which aims to provide the public with the latest information on dengue hotspots and preventive measures on how citizens can avoid getting the disease. Official reports cited the rising number of dengue cases from 10,352 with 19 deaths recorded from January to June, 2012 to 10,401 cases with 20 deaths in the same period, this year. According to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, the website was developed using remote sensing technology and GIS, so that users can easily locate high-risk areas for dengue outbreaks. By doing so, the Minister says local authorities and the general public can mobilise community efforts to come up with early intervention measures. “The website will be updated every week. The government hopes this access to information for the public will make the fight against the dengue menace more effective,” the Minister added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/18/2013

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Philippines: To Deploy Extra Layer for Govt Data Security

 

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Philippines will add an additional layer of security using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to secure data for government email and online transaction. “Other than securing email and online transactions, PKI will also be an integral part of other applications such as payment gateway system, Narmis (National Archives and Records Management Information System), GovMail (Government Wide Email System) and other applications that will require secure communication and encryption,” said Rene Mendoza, Head of the PKI team of the DOST’s Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) Project. Through the use of dual encryption keys and the certificates digitally signed by a Certificate Authority, PKI ensures that transmitted data is authentic, valid and has not been tampered with in transit, she added. The PKI deployment was one of the projects firstly announced at the opening of a four-day celebration of the ICT Month held at the DOST’s ICT Office in Diliman, Quezon City, early this month.

 

Securing data is a crucial need for the e-Government master Plan and iGovPhil Project. Data security through PKI will facilitate the development of services and applications to ensure the efficient delivery of public services, according to Mendoza. In the future, digital certificate will be issued to private entity and individuals to ease transactions with government as well as to secure their personal electronic communication. The Universal Multi-purpose ID (UMID) agencies that offer most of their services online will benefit from the PKI project. These agencies are Republic of the Philippines Social Security System (SSS) , Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIBIG), National Statistics Office (NSO), and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/26/2013

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The Philippines Unveils New E-Gov Master Plan

 

The ICT Office, Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) of the Philippines launched the country’s eGovernment Master Plan 2014-2016 (EGMP) this week, a single strategic blueprint identifying key priorities for the development of the country’s e-governance programme. The EGMP includes several recent projects, such as the Integrated Government Philippines Project (iGovPhil), which aims to link government data centres and databases to create a secure network for government information systems, and the Medium-Term Information and Communication Technology Harmonization Initiative (MITHI), which will harmonise all IT systems in the public sector. Launched last year, the 470 million peso (US$10.8 million) iGovPhil project provides the necessary infrastructure and software needed for e-governance. The Philippine Government Cloud was launched under iGovPhil in June this year, to encourange agencies to use cloud applications over traditional IT systems. iGovPhil also provides users with a Single Sign-On service to log on to any iGovPhil service, and a Government Online Payment System that allows agencies to accept payments from citizens online.

 

Additionally, the EGMP includes a TV White Spaces initiative launched by DOST-ICTO, bringing broadband internet to rural areas through the use of unused TV broadcast channels called ‘white spaces’. The data connectivity will support rural broadband, telemedicine, educational content delivery and data gathering capability of the government’s sensor networks. Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology passed on a message from President Benigno Aquino III at the unveiling of EGMP. “Through the e-Government Master Plan, we lay the groundwork for an effective and transparent e-government information system for 2014 to 2016, providing agencies with a framework that will strengthen and integrate existing information systems that are vital to the delivery of services and information”. The President also stated that technology can be a great catalyst for efficiency in government. “Technology can play a crucial role in linking our people with their government”, he said. “It is through technology that we can improve our services, promote dialogue and responsiveness, and ultimately raise the level of discourse in our country by efficiently informing our citizenry about the policies and initiatives of government”. The EGMP is an update to the current Government Information Systems Plan, and aims to raise the Philippines from position 88 into the top 50 in the United Nations’ eGovernment rankings by 2016. The plan will be published in its full form after formal approval from the President.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/28/2013

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The Philippines Launches Pilot Trial of E-Court System

 

The Supreme Court launched the pilot trial of the electronic court system (e-Court) project in a bid to promote transparency and good governance in the justice system. The pilot trial was launched at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, which will serve as a model once it is rolled out in all courts nationwide. The e-Court system will improve the processes of capturing, storing and accessing documents filed at the branch courts so as to avoid duplicated data and repetition in the administrative processes. According to Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the new system would also help erase perceptions that “money is leaking in the court system” because the cases will now be “raffled” off electronically and the fees will be automatically assessed by the system. Because of this feature, Sereno said they are able to remove any “human intermediation” from the process by which cases are assigned to judges. Meanwhile, Quezon City Judge Bernelito Fernandez said the new system could help the public monitor the status of cases more closely. To do this, an e-Court kiosk will be set up in key strategic places for the convenience of the citizens. “The e-Court system will provide quality justice within reasonable time. There will be instantaneous information retrieval for judges and court personnel,” he added. Furthermore, the Chief Justice revealed plans to computerise the notification system for litigants and lawyers regarding court schedules and subpoenas, and start the digital archiving and retrieval system for court records.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/04/2013

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SINGAPORE: Govt to Release More Data on Singapore for Personal and Business Use

 

SINGAPORE: The government will release more data on Singapore to the public for personal and business use. The Manpower Ministry will be launching a new website for employers to tap into data on the local labour market. Another service, PopulationQuery, will give people free access to demographic data by residential or commercial areas. It is a feature built into the existing OneMap platform which can help people make decisions on buying property based on an area's attributes, for example.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 06/17/2013

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THAILAND: Launching E-Correspondence Management System on G-Cloud

 

Electronic Government Agency (EGA), Thailand officially launched an electronic correspondence management system (e-CMS) on the government cloud last week, in a bid to improve the system’s interoperability standard among the government agencies. The launch of the e-CMS system for the government — called “e-Saraban as a Service on G-Cloud” or “e-Saraban” in short — was announced in the seminar for public hearing about the CMS standard, organised by the Electronic Government Agency. ICT Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Chaiyan Peungkiatpairote presided over the event in front of the government officers in charge of operating CMS system from different agencies. The seminar aimed at consolidating opinions, knowledge, and suggestion to future improve the e-Saraban as well as to promote the direction of its service, and collaborate public-private effort to strengthen the country’s e-government scheme.

 

“ICT has been leveraged and plays a vital role in helping the government’s duties both for the front office and back office,” Peungkiatpairote said. “CMS system is one of the key missions to help promote, facilitate and organise the work and communication among different agencies.” He added that the development of the e-Saraban is to improve the CMS system, shaping it into the same direction as per the regulation and standard indicated by laws. “The project is expected to increase the use of ICT in CMS system such as e-CMS or the exchange of data between the e-CMS of each agencies,” he said. “The collaboration and single direction will help make the work process faster, reducing the use of paper as per the government’s ICT for green policy, and fostering the development of G-Cloud.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/27/2013

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VIETNAM: To Implement E-Assessment for Civil Servant Performance

 

Department of Home Affairs, Da Nang City, Vietnam will start the electronic assessment for performance of civil servants, starting from July 1, after a successful result from the pilot programme. Each public official including high ranking member will be assessed secretly by at least four subordinate from his or her office. The new e-assessment scheme will also cover directors, deputy directors of state departments, chairs and vice chairs of districts, the chief and vice chief of other state agencies and all public servants of state agencies and district people’s committees in Da Nang. A specialised software will be installed to proceed the digital evaluation that will cover three main categories of objectives and tasks assigned, the results based on actual products, and comments from civil servants of the same unit. Director of the Department of Home Affairs Dang Cong Ngu said this electronic mode of evaluation aimed to better manage human resources, helping to evaluate the work of the staff honestly and effectively.

 

“The advantage of the model is to promote openness, democracy by taking the actual working results as a measure. Also, public servants will be evaluated from various angles,” he saeid. Ngu also added that this scheme is an opportunity for public servants to listen to comments, suggestions from their colleagues to improve work efficiency. Each individual will be asked to score himself at work, attitude, responsibility and is then assessed by his boss. After that, colleagues from the same agency will provide comments on one another. The staff will be allowed to secretly assess their bosses, and the final marks will be maded by the higher-level officials. The result of this performance assessment will be monitored monthly and quarterly, and will be used as a basis for the annual evaluation. If an officer cannot fulfil his or her task for two consecutive years, he or she will be fired. The result of the assessment will be used for emulation and commendation, income distribution and allocation of administrative expenses. During July and September 2012, Da Nang City piloted the e-assessment at seven departments and three districts. The trial project involved 250 participants.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/04/2013

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Vietnam to Speed Up Path to E-Government

 

A high level steering committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has been finalised to ensure the realisation of the government’s ambitious plan to modernise government administrative procedures and processes. Other members of the steering committee include Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong, and Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son. The goal of the steering committee is to speed up the development of e-Government in Vietnam. In particular, the government aims to improve the organisational efficiency of public sector organisations in charge of population management. In this regard, they are committed to establishing a national population database and providing ID number cards by the end of 2020. According to an official statement, the plan will help accelerate the application of information technology in administrative procedures, reduce paperwork for citizens and contribute to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of State management agencies. From now up to the end of 2014, the committee will be finalising the legal basis for systematising administrative procedures on issuing, managing and using personal ID numbers; and building the national database on population.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/14/2013

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INDIA: Kapil Sibal Launches “E-Gov Appstore”

 

Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, today launched the pilot e-Gov application store. This e-Gov Appstore has been designed, developed and hosted by DeitY through NIC. The Appstore will enable citizen to receive services in more streamlined manner. Inclusion of IT is governance aims to reduce uncertainty and improve transparency” said Shri Sibal. The e-Gov Appstore aims to be a National level common repository of productized applications, components and web services that can be used by various government agencies, departments at Centre and in the States. This will enable acceleration of delivery of e-services as envisaged under NeGP and optimise the ICT spending of the government. Core and common applications that have high demand and are replicable across the central and state levels would be available on the e-Gov Appstore, which shall be hosted on the National Cloud. These applications are sourced from 8 distinct States / UTs and provide a gamut of G2C/G2B services.

 

The present version of the e-Gov Appstore has the following features: (1) Sharing of applications (2) Search for applications (3) Provides basic information about an application on selection (4) Allows users to provide feedback and rate an application (5) Has two level approval process for contributing applications (6) Allows authenticated users to download application for consumption This e-Gov Appstore will be augmented to include applications and components developed by various departments and agencies at Centre and States and by private players; and a complete eco-system will be established (including mechanism for funding, charge back, contract management, SLAs) and will become a part of the GI Cloud initiative under Government of India.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/31/2013

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Government Launches New Website for Tribal Welfare

 

V.Kishore Chandra Deo, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs launched new website of Ministry of Tribal Affairs (www.tribal.nic.in). The website has been launched to make people aware about the activities undertaken by the Ministry. The website is available on all the major media platforms like mobile phones and disabled specific devices. The website is bi-lingual in Hindi and English version. Hindi content is universally accessible by using Unicode complaint font. The website contains all the landmark measures, policy and legal initiatives of the Tribal Affairs Ministry.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/10/2013

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E-Pension for Retired Government Officials

 

The Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) plans to start e-PPO (Pension Payment Orders) facility for processing pension cases. It will overcome various issues like poor maintenance of Central Pension Accounting Office’s database, wastage of manpower, and delay in payment. The CPAO plans to start e-PPO facility for processing pension cases. CPAO will issue PPOs electronically to all public servants retiring from June 2013.  As of now, a special seal authority under CPAO authorises banks to make payments of pensions after feeding relevant data manually.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/14/2013

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New Application to Enhance m-Governance in Kerala

 

Livares Technologies Pvt Ltd recently launched an android mobile application to enhance m-Governance in Kerala. This application will offer information of various departments of the state government. This application aims to integrate advancements in mobile phone technology. It will create cost efficient and effective government information systems. Users can post queries regarding the specific services by simply providing with the required details like registration number, file number. This new initiative will create a new revolution in terms of M-governance. It will act as an interface between the people and the government. The new apps is designed in a way that it helps various e-governance project initiatives which will help in enhancing entire system delivery system.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/14/2013

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Prime Minister Reviews National e-Governance Plan

 

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has reviewed the implementation of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) as well as the recommendations of the two committees headed by Nandan Nilekani and Sam Pitroda. The second meeting of the Prime Minister’s Committee on the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was held recently to review the progress of implementation of NeGP. The recommendations of both the committees will be of immense benefit for fast tracking the implementation of all e-Governance initiatives in the country. The NeGP was approved by Government of India in May 2006 with the vision to “Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs”. The Committee noted that out of the 31 MMPs, 14 MMPs are delivering the full range of services while nine have started delivering some services to the citizens. DeitY has launched a new initiative named as ‘MeghRaj’ for creating a Government of India cloud (GI Cloud) computing environment at the national level. This initiative will not only optimise utilisation of IT infrastructure, but also enable rapid deployment/replication of e-Gov services. Considering the requirement for an apex institution in the domain of capacity building, training and R&D for e-Governance, the Committee desired that a National e-Governance Academy be established as a national institution. In order to develop an outcome orientation amongst the e-Governance initiatives in the country, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has developed a web portal – e-TAAL (e-Transactions Aggregation and Analysis Layer). The portal aggregates and analyses the transaction statistics of central and state level e-governance projects including Mission Mode Projects, on a real time basis. e-TAAL is expected to enhance the outcome focus of e-Governance programs in the country. The portal is available at etaal.gov.in.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/03/2013

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Ministry of External Affairs Launches Smartphone Application

 

The Ministry of External Affairs has launched a smartphone application to inform citizens about its services and keep them updated on happenings on the diplomacy front. The Ministry has now expanded its digital footprints by launching this new smartphone application. The MEA will be the first government department to have a mobile app for smartphone users. It will provide details of all citizen-centric services of the MEA like passport, visa for those travelling to India, India’s foreign policy initiatives, official visits etc. Users can also track status of their passport applications.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/30/2013

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e-Governance Introduced in Hazaribagh Municipality

 

With the introduction of the new e-governance system, Hazaribagh municipality became one of the very few civic bodies in the state where all transactions will be done via internet. Minister for urban development and excise JaiprakashBhai Patel inaugurated the system in the municipality office. The development will not just help in quick disposal of mutation papers but the petitions forwarded by the municipal administration will also receive quick response. Patel called upon all the municipalities functioning in the state to follow the steps taken by Hazaribaghmunicipality in this regard. The minister further said he aims to develop Hazaribagh and Ramgarh, which currently lacks good roads, drains and civic amenities. He directed the executive officer of the municipality to prepare estimates for road projects without delay and send a proposal to him so that he can place the matter before the state cabinet for its quick clearance.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 08/14/2013

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Government Plans to Build 160,000 Service Centres to Implement e-Governance

 

India is building a network of over 160,000 Common Services Centres (CSCs) to take a gamut of public services to the very doorstep of the common man as part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The CSCs would have the ability to provide high quality and cost effective video, voice and data content and services in the areas of e-Governance, education, health, entertainment. They can also offer web-enabled public services like application form download, certificates, payments of electricity, telephone, water and other utility bills in rural areas. The CSCs will also perform pension, income tax, social welfare, licenses, banking, insurance, agricultural, advertising and market research related works.

 

The CSC network would link more than 600,000 villages across the country.The perspective behind CSCs is to provide an IT-based delivery platform to government, private and social sector organisations for reaching out to the rural people in the remote areas. The implementation of CSCs involves public-private partnership, with an active participation of rural entrepreneurs. Central government is also pushing the Rs 20,000 crore National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project to connect the 250,000 gram panchayats across the country in a phased manner by high speed broadband system.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 08/14/2013

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Election Commission Decides to Use VVPAT System

 

The Government of India has amended the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, enabling the Commission to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system (VVPAT) with the Electronic Voting Machines. The Election Commission of India has decided to use the VVPAT system at the current Bye-election from 51-Noksen (ST) Assembly Constituency of Nagaland. The poll for this bye-election is to be held on 4th September 2013. Instructions are being issued to hold special meetings with the contesting candidates in this constituency to brief them about the use of VVPAT system. The Commission is organizing special training sessions for poll officers in the use of VVPAT and steps are being taken to educate the electors on the use of VVPAT system.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 08/21/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Version of E-Government Website Presented

 

A data processing center of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies has presented a mobile version of the electronic government portal e-gov.az/mini, the center said on May 27.  The mobile version is optimized specially for portable devices, which ensures convenient browsing and saves Internet traffic.  The mobile page provides users with an opportunity to get familiarized with electronic services of state bodies, apply for digital electronic signatures, enquire about statistical data and other information.  The e-government portal creates suitable conditions to render electronic services to all Azerbaijani citizens, as well as legal entities, foreign citizens and people with no rights to citizenship.  Earlier in May, the ICT Ministry developed a draft state program on the development of the "e-government" for the period 2013-2015.  The document, which is expected to be approved in June 2013, has been submitted to the government, and relevant work will begin upon its approval.  The new program is continuation of the state program on developing the ICT sector in Azerbaijan in 2010-2012.  The e-government project, which mostly covers the government sector, is an integral part of the broad "electronic Azerbaijan" idea.  The establishment and development of the e-government in Azerbaijan will encourage fruitful work of the state bodies, guarantee transparency and reduce bureaucracy.  The e-government targets to reduce poverty, promote the population's prosperity and address the issues reflected in the state program on poverty reduction and sustainable development in 2008-2015.  2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan and the ICT University was established under a presidential order on February 2.  President Ilham Aliyev also approved the regulations on the State Fund for IT Development and the Action Plan on the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. According to the action plan, it is planned to develop an ICT strategy, improve the registration procedure of the national domain .az, and significantly reduce fees for telecommunication services and Internet access. 

From http://www.azernews.az/ 05/28/2013

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Azerbaijani State Departments Expand Application of E-Services

 

The 'electronic government' portal has connected to itself 40 central bodies of the executive power of Azerbaijan, the Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Elmir Velizade told journalists on Tuesday.  According to Velizade, at present approximately 220 electronic services are being provided for these state bodies.  "With every year the number of addresses to the portal, as well as the number of owners of electronic digital signatures (EDS) rises demonstrating the popularity of the portal and e-services among the population," the deputy minister said.  At present a new state programme for the development of 'e-government' for 2013-2015 is being prepared with the connection of local executive bodies to the portal, as well as deployment by them where the electronic services are provided.  A new programme is currently under the agreement stage with the government.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/11/2013

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OMAN: MoCS Holds E-Training for Public Sector Staff 

 

The Ministry of Civil Service (MoCS), represented by the Directorate General of Human Resources Development, is organising an e-training programme in association with the Bahrain Institute of Public Administration (BIPA). The programme, titled 'Educational Design', targets e-training specialists in the government sector  A number of officials from the Royal Court Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education and MoCS are taking part in the programme, which runs till June 26.  The programme is part of the efforts exerted by MoCS to enhance skills and abilities of  employees in state administrative offices.

From http://www.menafn.com/ 06/24/2013

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UZBEKISTAN: Having Launched Single Portal of Interactive Public Services

 

A single portal of online government services at my.gov.uz was launched in a test mode in Uzbekistan, the press-service of State Committee for Communication, Informatization and Telecommunication Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan reported on Monday. The single portal offers interactive government services to public and business entities through a single access point in real time mode. The single portal was established in accordance with the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers "On measures for further improvement of the governmental web portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the provision of online public services", which was adopted at the end of 2012.The implementation of the project is an important step in the formation and development of the "electronic government". Currently, about 60 services are being provided through the single portal in the test mode, including services for reception, registration and consideration of applications for connecting fixed line telephone services and the Internet for legal and physical persons, obtaining information of the state tax services on the lack of tax liabilities, obtaining licenses in the sphere of telecommunication, which are available in automatic mode. In addition, the services on sending applications for obtaining appropriate licenses in various spheres are provided for entrepreneurs. Through the single portal the citizens and business entities may also submit an appeal to the bodies of state and economic management of state authorities at the local level. One of the main components of the single portal is the "Statistics" module, which provides the topical information on the status of consideration of applications and users' requests by the government bodies. This module will contribute to further provision of transparency and openness of the activity of government bodies and to increasing the efficiency of cooperation between the government bodies and the population of the republic." The developers are open to suggestions of citizens, business entities and government bodies on further improvement of the single portal," the press service of the committee said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/02/2013

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AUSTRALIA: To Join Open Government Partnership

 

The Government of Australia has submitted a letter of intent to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as part of its commitment to an open and transparent government. The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments around the world to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and leverage new technologies to strengthen governance. ”Australia shares the values of the Open Government Partnership and we have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with other nations in the partnership,” said Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus QC. According to an official statement, Australia will officially join OGP when it presents a National Action Plan and endorses the open government declaration. The National Action Plan will seek to address challenges in improving public services, increasing public integrity and accountability, effectively managing public resources and creating safer communities. “The OGP membership will complement Australia’s leadership internationally in promoting democracy, transparency and good governance,” he said. “It will also assist Australia to spread the values of transparency and accountability in our region.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/29/2013

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Australian Government Fast-Tracks Cloud Strategy Reforms

 

Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy has unveiled plans strengthening the government’s National Cloud Computing Strategy. This revamped strategy enables agencies to make informed decisions and choices about the use of cloud services. The Australian Government’s Cloud Computing Strategy Cloud Strategy offers a comprehensive roadmap to developing world-class cloud services – at the same time, maximising the use of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The NBN delivers high-speed, fast-access communications to homes, businesses and service delivery agencies. The Australian government, under Prime Minister Julia Gillard, faces an election during September 2013. Industry analysts note this revitalised cloud and broadband strategy offers a chance to showcase high-profile ICT projects – while fast-tracking core policy reforms. Among these reforms, the National Cloud Computing Strategy seeks to “realise the promise of cloud computing,” while working closely with industry and consumer groups.

 

The Department of Finance and Deregulation is “enhancing” its procurement practices, ensuring that agencies actively consider public cloud services for new ICT procurement. Agencies can transition public-facing websites to public cloud services as their refresh cycle allows, and where these services represent the “best value for money.” Canberra’s peak agency, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will continue advising decision-makers about the pros and cons of cloud services and how to procure and manage them. AGIMO and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) are also setting up information-sharing initiatives. These initiatives pool examples that draw on practical case studies and the experiences of other agencies. The focus is on taking a risk-management approach to cloud roll-outs. Plans are underway to develop a business case by year’s end that analyses the benefits and drawbacks of a more centralised approach to providing cloud services to federal agencies. The administration is actively promoting cloud computing to small businesses, not-for-profits and consumers.

 

The DBCDE and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education will team with intermediaries and member associations to promote informed decision-making about cloud computing. The brief is to tailor information to particular industry segment needs, and enhance the online information available to small business and not-for-profit organisations about using the cloud. The government’s cloud strategy notes that Australia is well placed to take advantage of cloud computing for various reasons. These include a stable socio-economic system, a “strong rule of law,” and a highly -diverse and skilled Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Among the benefits, cloud computing boosts agency-wide efficiencies, generates greater value from ICT investment, delivers better services and supports a more agile public sector. More broadly, in Australia, slow communications traffic speed restricts access to infrastructure that supports more sophisticated cloud services. These include Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (IaaS). Cloud services are also often managed off-shore — with a need for real-time download and upload speeds.

 

Cloud computing is not being adopted more widely because there is limited awareness about making the best use of cloud computing. Some organisation and individuals also lack the confidence to embrace the cloud. This is compounded by a limited access to information, and making the right decisions about technologies-of-choice. As the cloud services market evolves, users and providers of cloud services need to respond to change, the strategy notes. Likewise, the administration will continue adapting its strategy in response to a dynamic and fast-changing marketplace.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/30/2013

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Government Faces Video Competition for Internet 'Prime Time'

 

Government agencies and councils engaging with citizens through online channels could soon have a new big challenge to deal with thanks to the rapidly ascending popularity of all things digital and the volume of traffic on the web. Annual research by respected networking and systems vendor Cisco is pointing to a phenomenon that is the online equivalent of television’s ‘prime time’ - when eyeballs get glued to screens and the volume of data coursing through pipes hits its highest. According to Cisco, the good news for agencies is that as the utility and richness of the web and online services grows, service delivery models that have a much lower cost than their non-digitised equivalents will emerge provide better value for taxpayer’s dollars. The findings are contained in the vendor’s yearly Visual Networking Index that is a rolling five year outlook on technology and networking consumption. The catch is that the rise in internet protocol traffic volume at peak times will be so much bigger that there will be greater competition for finite resources according to Dr Robert Pepper, Cisco’s vice president of Global Technology Policy.

 

The implications for government, one of the biggest purchasers of Cisco equipment in Australia, are substantial because they could play out in the same way that jumps in wholesale electricity pricing over the last 5 years came to bite many government costing projections in the behind. But while factors like weather can bounce around electricity demand, Cisco’s prediction is that it’s the availability of online video that will move the needle on demand. “We are seeing the peak hour traffic almost 3.5 times greater than the average traffic across the internet. It turns out that are beginning to see the development of prime time on the internet,” Dr Pepper said. “In Australia we are forecasting by 2017 that [for consumer traffic] video, will be 83 per cent of IP traffic on the net, up from 70 per cent today. The consumption model we see … is beginning to mirror what we see on television.” The issue for government is that it as it puts services online, it could soon need to compete for space at the same time as people are consuming video because of the proliferation devices that allow people to multi-task – like filling in dreaded child care rebate form while watching downloaded television.

 

“Peak hour traffic that is 3.5 times the average is coming in the prime time on the internet   which is 9pm to 1am,” Dr Pepper said. Cisco has reckoned that by 2017 there will be 6 devices or connections per person in Australia and 145 million devices in total for the same period. For Ken Boal, Cisco’s Australian managing director, that’s both an opportunity and a wake-up call for government. Mr Boal said that the volume of traffic flowing through PC-based devices in Australia was now 89 per cent but headed down to 72 per cent. The shift is coming from mobile devices like tablets computers and so-called machine-to-machine communications like cars that can talk to their manufacturers online. “If government and business leaders aren’t already seriously thinking about that, they need to pay further attention. I would put Australian and NZ leaders on the whole as reasonably procative, but not across all industry,” Mr Boal said. Mr Boal said there was “huge innovation right now” in the delivery of government services. “For government with less dollars coming in the door and a much tighter economy in future years they really have to look at lower cost models to serve,” he said. “This internet platform will continue to provide lower cost-to-serve models.” “With higher speed ubiquitous broadband across the country, those service delivery models are going to become richer, more immersive and much more interesting opportunities.”

From http://www.governmentnews.com.au 06/11//2013

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Public Sector's Best Tech Minds Converge for Technology in Government

 

Australia’s most eminent public-sector information technology leaders are set to converge in Canberra this Wednesday and Thursday for the nation’s landmark annual IT thought leadership and strategy event, Technology in Government. As the importance of harnessing technology to provide innovation, service excellence and efficiency all rapidly escalate up the government agenda, the two-day event has attracted an unrivalled line-up of key federal and state playmakers who collectively define how the government implements and buys technology well into future. This year Government News is proud to be the exclusive media partner for Technology in Government’s, a move that will give readers an unrivalled insight into key public sector technology developments as they happen. Taking place at over two days from 24th July to 25th July at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, senior executives delivering presentations from the government’s largest technology users include: Department of Defence Chief Technology Officer Matt Yannopoulos, Department of Human Services Chief Information Officer Gary Sterrenberg and the Australian Taxation Office’s Chief Information Officer Bill Gibson.

 

If you yet haven’t registered, be quick because places are filling fast. Importantly, the event will also be addressed by Australian Government Chief Technology Officer and Procurement Coordinator John Sheridan who is renowned for his high-calibre insights into reforming government use of technology coupled with a no-nonsense delivery style. Glenn Archer, the Chief Information Officer at the Australian Government Information Management Office will also deliver a highly-anticipated presentation following a significant recalibration of roles within the influential Finance portfolio. The conference is also expected to provide a warm welcome to one of Capital Hill’s long-haul advocates for open technology innovation and reform, Senator Kate Lundy who was recently appointed to the role of Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy.

 

At the state level Andrew Mills chief information officer for South Australia will deliver valuable insights at a time when cross-jurisdictional sharing of knowledge and has never been more important. However Technology in Government is not limiting its insights to Australian shores. Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer for Her Majesty’s Government from the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom will give his views on progress in Britain where use of technology in government and its procurement have undergone significant changes over the past 5 years. Specific themes to be covered at Technology in Government this year include:

    Mobile government and society: successful integration and uptake

    What's driving behaviour change: responding to an evolving citizen and state

    Changes in infrastructure: reacting to the changes in government

    Next generation CIO: the evolving role of the technology leader in tough times

    Technology optimisation, disruption and innovation

    Collaboration and shared services.

From http://www.governmentnews.com.au 07/19/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: Delivering E-Procurement Reforms

 

The pace of e-procurement reforms is picking up momentum in New Zealand. There is direct support at the highest levels of government about ways to streamline the buying and selling of goods and services. The challenge for agencies is ensuring the roll-out of e-payment systems is consistent and integrates work within finance and procurement divisions.Peter Fitness, acting director, defence commercial services, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), shared insights about e-procurement trends, noting that integrated e-payment systems support an ongoing journey to streamline the purchase of goods and services.The use of purchasing or pcards is seen as a “step in the right direction,” enabling goods and services to be procured without using a traditional purchasing model. Pcards are issued to staff, while complying with strict organisational policies and procedures. These factor in reviews and approvals involving transactions. Built-in checks enable each card to be assigned to a cost-centre. This helps track transactions, and ensures a responsible use of allocated cards. Being able to track transactions through cost centres offers an “overarching overview” of the way funds are spent, Mr Fitness noted. Staff also has access to the requisite tools to spend money, while tracking expenditure, and taking direct responsibility.

 

Organisations can implement controls for each pcard. These include single-purchase dollar limits, monthly limits, as well as merchant category code restrictions. These tracking mechanisms enable a cardholder’s activity to be reviewed by someone independent of the cardholder. Mr Fitness noted that his agency is working with the NZ Defence Industry Association to ensure that “payments systems are sorted out” at all levels of transactional processing. Member agencies can band together to share information, knowledge and expertise about procurement practices. Aditi Cook, acting category leader, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), observed that the transition to e-procurement must to be considered “using a staged approach.” She added that e-procurement is not mandated by government. Regardless, she noted that agencies are “getting there through e-government and other on-line initiatives.” To embrace e-procurement across organisations, there must be a change in behaviour and perception, she added. The challenge, according to Ms Cook, is aligning the work of finance with procurement. “These are two separate entities that need to work more closely together.” Agencies can offer career tracks where finance and procurement teams work “hand-in-glove,” while ensuring staff retain and build on existing skills. “We have to be in a situation where we can encourage business to go directly to a commodity (purchasing) manager, ensuring that teams work together at all levels of business.”

 

The MBIE integrates the functions of four former agencies. These are the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Department of Labour and the Department of Building and Housing. As a lead agency, the MBIE offers a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support to businesses. It seeks to reduce the effort businesses invest in, when dealing with government, while raising performance ratings for government savings. In October 2012, the MBIE won two awards at the Australasian 2012 Procurement Professional Awards, held in Melbourne. These awards were for Best Process Improvement Initiative – e-Auctions, and Best Infrastructure and Capital Works Project – Canterbury Earthquake. This agency was also shortlisted for a “Best Example of Socially Responsible Procurement – Meet the Buyer.” These projects are part of highly-successful e-procurement reforms programmes. These initiatives encourage agencies to ‘buy-better,’ while reducing the costs. The focus is on improving buying decisions and making it easier for companies to tender for government work. MBIE’s overall procurement initiatives are slated to save NZ $353 million, with initiatives being rolled out over the next three years. These additional projects offer a potential to save another NZ $180-$300 million a year.

 

The e-marketplace offers many tools to maximise the benefits of e-procurement, according to Olivia Leong, Regional Head, Enterprise and Government Payment Solutions, Commercial Products, AP & CEMEA, Visa Worldwide. Ms Leong noted that “embedded virtual cards” offer benefits to end users, over and above standard purchasing apps. For example, children can be offered pre-paid virtual cards to control spending. Parents can decide how much money they want loaded onto a virtual card when they purchase it. This pre-purchasing decision helps track and control spending — while encouraging young consumers to be responsible and financially-savvy, she noted. Ms Leong added that “we will never get a one-size fits all” e-procurement package — but the intrinsic success lies in the way offerings are used, modified, and adapted for individuals and organisations. For government enterprises, the idea is to “optimise existing investments,” she added. Moreover, a recent survey showed that less than 5 per cent of an organisation’s budget is spent on financial management technology. “We need to continue adding value across the eco-system.” The aim is to leverage existing systems — while helping government manage its procurement and budgeting process. “There are different categories of experience, at different levels,” she said. “We need the ability to build platforms, and take these to another level. The idea is to use existing tools more efficiently.

 

At the industry level, we encourage peer-to-peer group bench-marking, and partnerships with key stakeholders.” Laurence Millar, a former New Zealand government CIO, noted that New Zealand’s payment and settlement system “is in a good place.” Support for e-procurement reforms comes from the upper echelons of government, including Prime Minister John Key. “There is a huge opportunity to streamline end-to-end transaction processing,” Mr Millar added. The over-arching focus is on transparency, innovation and efficiency. These themes drive New Zealand’s interest in e-procurement — while galvanising all levels of government. Participants at the Wellington briefing represented the Treasury, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Accident Compensation Corporation, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Post Group, Department of Corrections, Victoria University, and Wellington City Council.

 

E-Procurement Checklist

• Focus on “being smart” about innovation and technology.

• Ensure e-procurement platforms deliver organisation-wide efficiencies.

• Track global standards and interoperability – ensuring that suppliers and end-users “speak the same language.”

• Support a transparent, accountable, and information-savvy environment.

• Galvanise and gain buy-in across divisions, including finance and procurement.

• Maximise use of e-sourcing and e-catalogues for informed decisions.

• Influence perceptions about e-procurement and benefits this platform delivers.

• Improve e-tracking systems to manage timelines for contracts and project delivery, billing and invoicing, and allocation of staff and resources.

• Reduce the number of suppliers providing goods and services, while improving the effectiveness of sourcing and payment systems.

• Tackle the risk, and look more closely at how billing and payment systems are managed.

• Consolidate partnerships with banks, suppliers, agencies, end-users and industry bodies in a peer-to-peer, open, and collaborative environment.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 05/30/2013

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Government to Tackle IT Debacles

 

Government Chief Information Officer Colin McDonald is to get more powers and a bigger budget as the Government seeks to keep a lid on IT debacles like Novopay and a string of privacy breaches. Mr MacDonald who is also Department of Internal Affairs chief executive, will now be equally responsible with the relevant minister for the sign off and roll out of big government IT projects like the $1.5 billion upgrade of the Inland Revenue's computer system which will be the biggest ever public sector IT project. Prime Minister John Key said if ICT projects failed in the same way Novopay had, the buck would now largely stop with the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) and his department as well as the relevant minister. "As we can see with things like Novopay, if you get it wrong it can be a very painful experience." Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain said the recent Ministerial Inquiry into Novopay and Mr MacDonald's own review of publicly accessible state sector IT systems highlighted the need for ICT systems to be better managed.

 

"It's made us take a step and consider that we need to lift the bar - but it hasn't stopped the demand for ICT projects." He said Mr MacDonald's team will receive an additional $1.5 million a year for additional staff and resources. That was on top of previously announced extra funding of $3 million in 2012/2013 and $4 million a year thereafter. Mr Tremain said Mr MacDonald would give independent advice to ministers regarding major projects and would have sector-wide oversight of ICT plans, projects and risks. He would also report to ministers on any security risks, and implement privacy and security standards and controls across the public sector. The announcement was part of the wider Government ICT strategy and action plan, released yesterday which aims to save up to $100 million year by 2017. The plan includes offering all new services online by 2017. Mr Tremain said New Zealanders' information would be better managed. "Sensitive information will be protected through clear security and privacy controls, while non-sensitive information will be shared between departments." Prime Minister John Key said the public wanted assurance their tax dollars were being spent with care but they also wanted to know their sensitive information was being protected.

 

"That's a responsibility I take seriously because if we're serious about more New Zealanders doing more of their business with government online they'll need to have faith that the systems that they are using are safe and secure." Labour's ICT spokeswoman Clare Curran said: "throwing $1.5 million at these issues sound good, but in reality this is the Government responding to growing public unease and anxiety about the safety of their data and their own privacy with stop gap measures". Ms Curran said extra funding amounted to the Government "papering over the cracks and looking as if they are doing something to allay public concerns".

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 06/25/2013

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Expansion of IT Pact to Boost Global Economy: APEC Officials

 

Expanding the number of information technology products exempt from tariffs will provide a much-needed boost to the global economy and contribute to opening markets and facilitating regional trade, say APEC officials. The case for expansion under an existing World Trade Organization sectoral agreement was laid out by public and private sector experts on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur during an APEC workshop on the advancement of trade in IT products. “Now, it is time to strengthen the Information Technology Agreement to reflect changes in technology and market demand since it was brokered in 1997 with critical support from APEC economies,” said Mohd Ridzal Sheriff, Deputy Secretary General at Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. “A breakthrough on the expansion of product coverage is within reach,” Ridzal added. “The implementation of an updated agreement could significantly boost global trade and widen access to innovations that are revolutionizing business and improving people’s daily lives.”

 

World trade of products included in the Information Technology Agreement tripled between 1996 and 2011 to USD1.47 trillion, according to an APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) brief. But these products’ share in total trade declined from 11.3 percent to 9.9 percent during this same period. “APEC research indicates that a large number of duty-free IT products such as word processors and fax machines have become obsolete or undergone a sharp drop in demand,” said Peter Cheah, Chair of the APEC Market Access Group. “At the same time, many products and transformational technologies that today account for a sizeable amount of world trade fall outside the scope of the agreement.” “Our goal is to support ITA expansion as well as to institute a mechanism to ensure that a revised agreement is able to keep pace with innovation and market trends,” Cheah explained. “APEC is playing a leading role to enhance understanding of IT development and the need for greater liberalization, particularly among customs officials, regulators and stakeholders.” Products that are absent from the existing Information Technology Agreement range from DVDs, MP3 and MP4 players to global positioning systems. Multifunctional units such as LCD screens, printer-scanner-copiers, smart phones and tablet computers are also beyond its reach.

 

“The current process of ITA product expansion is reflective of demand from within the global information and communications technologies industry and the need for the WTO to better address firms’ changing business requirements,” said Tang Xiaobing, a market access counselor at the World Trade Organization. “Support from APEC economies can help to conclude the negotiations and encourage greater participation in an expanded agreement by the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December,” Tang noted. “Such progress would benefit IT companies around the world, particularly the many small businesses that produce component parts as well as those seeking to move higher up the global production value chain.” There are currently 76 participants in the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement who trade about 97 percent of the world’s information technology products. APEC economies alone account for 80 percent of this activity. Seventeen of them are signatories of the agreement. The workshop will conclude on Friday. It is co-sponsored by Chinese Taipei, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/20/2013

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WTO, World Bank to Develop Services Trade Database

 

The World Bank and the WTO have agreed to jointly develop and maintain a database on trade in services, an area that is becoming increasingly important and yet for which little information is publicly available. The joint database covers various sectors in more than 100 countries, such as financial, transportation, tourism, retail, telecommunications, and business services, including law and accounting. The data are presented in four modules covering: members' commitments under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); commitments on trade in services in regional trade agreements; members' applied measures affecting trade in services; and services statistics. The first version of the database has just been launched, as part of the WTO’s Integrated Trade Intelligence Portal (I-TIP) Services portal. Policy makers, researchers, trade negotiators, and the general public can access the database for free. Policy transparency is a public good and a shared objective of both institutions. The World Bank makes trade data publicly available under the Open Data Initiative, as does the WTO with the I-TIP. Transparency is particularly important in the dynamic area of trade in services because the regulatory framework is complex and little information is publicly available. Cross-border trade in services makes up one-fifth of all world trade, even without considering international transactions through foreign affiliates and the temporary movement of people. This WTO-World Bank arrangement exploits synergies between both institutions. Among other things, the joint database combines WTO data, including those on legal commitments, trade policy reviews (TPRs) or trade monitoring reports with World Bank data on applied policies from the Services Trade Restrictions Database, which went public last year. Both institutions will work hard to make sure the joint database stays up to date and expands to cover more sectors and countries.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 08/06/2013

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Global Clothing B2C E-Commerce Report 2013

 

Across Europe, clothing B2C E-Commerce is booming. In the EU, the share of individuals purchasing clothes and sports goods online increased in 2012, reaching over 20% of individuals. In Germany, apparel is the largest B2C E-Commerce category, having grown by just under a third in terms of sales and reaching several EUR billions of sales. Among the leading players on the market, the Otto Group plans to launch a new E-Commerce fashion project named Collins in 2014, while Zalando more than doubled its B2C E-Commerce clothing sales in 2012. Asos and Debenhams were among the most prominent online shops for fashion products in the UK in early 2013. In France, nearly a half of Internet users shopped for clothing online in 2012, with La Redoute and 3 Suisses being the most popular destinations for shopping.

 

The clothing and apparel sector is expanding in Eastern Europe as well. In Russia, B2C E-Commerce sales of clothing and shoes grew by over +40%in2012, and accounted for almost one fifth of total B2C E-Commerce sales. Clothing, shoes and accessories became the most popular online product category in 2012, with nearly half of online shoppers making purchases. Online clothing retailers in Russia have seen significant increase in revenues, some growing by up to 6 times, with Wildberries, Lamoda, Quelle and KupiVip as leading online merchants. Several players, such as KupiVip and Lamoda, attracted large investments from local venture capitalists and from abroad. Clothing and shoes is the leading B2C E-Commerce category in Poland, with a high double-digit percentage of online shoppers making purchases. The number of online shops selling clothes in Poland grows rapidly every year. In Estonia, Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey and some other European countries, clothing was bought by a high percentage of online shoppers, and was one of the most popular online product categories in these countries.

 

Clothing sector making gains in the Americas.

In the United States, apparel and accessories was second to consumer electronics in terms of B2C E-Commerce sales. This category is expected to grow by a double digit percentage figure in 2013, with the growth continuing, but slowing down throughout 2016. Nevertheless clothing is expected to remain the fastest growing product category in B2C E-Commerce. Players such as Abercrombie & Fitch compete to increase their share of the booming US E-Commerce market for clothing. In Latin America, clothing ranks high in popularity for online shoppers in such countries as Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, but is outperformed by electronics. In Brazil, apparel is the fourth most popular online product category, purchased by around a third of online shoppers in 2012. In Mexico this share is less than in Brazil, as apparel falls behind computers, electronics, books and some other products and services.

 

Varying levels of clothing sector popularity in Asian-Pacific nations.

Clothing is the most purchased product category in B2C E-Commerce in Japan. The globally active apparel retailer Gap Inc opened an online shop in Japan last fall, joining other national and international players. In South Korea, clothing was the among the highest selling categories in 2012, growing at a one-digit percentage rate, which is slightly slower than the total B2C E-Commerce market, signaling high maturity. In China, fashion and accessories had the highest reach of online shoppers, amounting to three quarters of female and a high double-digit share of male online shoppers.

 

E-Commerce sales of apparel increased by over a half to several tens of EUR billion in 2012.

Although C2C remains the largest segment of the online market for clothing in China, the market share of independent B2C platforms grows, with large international players, such as Levi Strauss, Inditex, Macy's and Asos launching or planning to launch local online shops. In Australia, clothing was the second most purchased product category in B2C E-Commerce after electronics in 2012 and is expected to remain the fastest growing product category in the B2C E-Commerce through the next five years. Growing investment in online clothing outlets in the Middle East and Africa In the Middle East and Africa, local online fashion stores attract large investments from established capitalists, indicating a positive view of the market potential. The Middle Eastern online vendor of clothing, Namshi, a Rocket Internet's project, raised several USD millions of investment in May 2013, while a South African online apparel store Zando received an even larger sum from investors such as JP Morgan. Moreover, in South Africa, the discount sector started to emerge on the online market for clothing, with apparel discount online shopping clubs, such as Runway[Sale], launched in 2012, growing rapidly.

 

Methodology

This B2C E-Commerce Report by yStats.com is produced in a holistic approach to contain relevant information about recent market trends, sales figures, shares, shoppers, and players news on the global B2C E-Commerce market for clothing.

• This report includes the results of secondary market research: By using various sources we ensure maximum objectivity for all obtained data. As a result companies get a precise and unbiased impression of the market situation. It takes into account a wide definition of B2C E-Commerce, and might include mobile commerce and social commerce. B2B E-Commerce and C2C E-Commerce are not included, unless stated otherwise.

• Cross referencing of data was conducted in order to ensure validity and reliability.

• Besides providing information on the specific topic, every chart contains an Action Title, which summarizes the main statement of the chart and a Sub Title, which gives information about the country, the topic, the unit or currency, and the time period the data on the chart refers to.

• Furthermore, the source of information and its release date are provided on every chart. It is possible that the information included in one chart is derived from several sources. Then, all sources are mentioned on the chart.

• This report also includes rankings. Within these rankings, it is possible that the total amount adds up to more than 100%. If this is the case, multiple answers were possible, and this is then mentioned in the note of the chart.

• If available, additional information about the data collection, for example the time of survey and number of people asked, is provided in the form of a note. In some cases, the note (also) contains additional information needed to fully understand the contents of the respective data.

• When providing information about amounts of money, local currencies were mostly used. When referencing them in the Action Title, the EUR values are also provided in brackets. The conversions are always made using the average currency exchange rate for the respective time period. Should the currency figure be in the future, the average exchange rate of the past 12 months is used.

• The included data was mainly published in the last 12 months. The exact publication dates are mentioned in every chart.

• The report opens with a Management Summary, summarizing the main information provided in each chapter.

• This report is divided into sections by regions. First, information about global development of the market is given, then in the each regional section the information about market in the region as a whole is provided, where available. The selected top countries in the respective regions are then presented, and the remaining countries follow in the alphabetical order.

From http://www.prnewswire.com/ 08/07/2013

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Global Web Traffic Plunged 40% During Google Blackout

 

Global internet traffic fell 40% on Saturday (August 17) as Google services suffered from a four-minute black out. Google is yet to speak out about the reasons behind the outage, which meant that all of its services, from Google Search, Gmail and YouTube stopped working for between one and five minutes around the world. The significant 40% drop in internet traffic was noted by web analytics firm GoSquared, which was followed by a rise in page views after Google was back up and running again. “As internet users, our reliance on Google.com being up is huge,” says GoSquared developer Simon Tabor. “It’s also of note that page views spiked shortly afterwards, as users managed to get to their destination.” At the time of the disruption, Google said: “We’re aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users. The affected users are able to access Gmail but are seeing error messages and/or unexpected behaviour.” The company later updated its statement: “Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better. Between 15:51 and 15:52 PDT, 50% to 70% of requests to Google received errors; service was mostly restored one minute later, and entirely restored after four minutes.”

From http://mandmglobal.com/ 08/19/2013

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Nurture High Value Added Suppliers to Capitalize on Electronics Supply Chain, Says Analysis

 

Nurturing the development of high value-added suppliers is the most effective way for APEC economies to benefit from the global electronics supply chain, recommends a recent APEC Policy Support Unit report presented to the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment on Tuesday in Medan. The report focuses on the higher value-added supplier portion of the supply chain, known as intermediate electronic goods, as these suppliers capture the largest share of value-added. Case studies were conducted on the supply chains of smartphones, laptop PCs and LCD flat panel televisions. For example, the global electronics supply chain of the Apple iPhone begins with research and development, and design in the United States, high value components from suppliers in Japan and Korea, followed by final assembly in China. “The majority of intra-regional trade between APEC Asian economies is made up of supplier or intermediate electronic goods,” explained John Larkin, Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment. “This intra-regional trade in the electronics supply chain is one of the reasons the Asian region continues to grow despite slowdowns in the US and Europe.”

 

The report suggests that component suppliers are based in a small group of economies—Korea, the United States, Japan, Chinese Taipei. Developing economies, particularly Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, and Viet Nam, then compete for a share of total supply chain value represented by assembly of parts and final products. China, historically a final assembly point, is now increasingly participating as a higher value-added supplier of component parts, the report found. “With the gap between the two sides narrowing, this provides the opportunity for other enterprising developing APEC economies to follow China’s lead,” said Dr. Akhmad Bayhaqi, Senior Analyst at the APEC Policy Support Unit which conducted the research. “Ultimately, economies in the world compete for high value-adding jobs in globally dispersed supply chains and upgrading workforce skills stands above all as the most common policy priority,” explained Dr. Bayhaqi. “Capturing higher value-added activity can help emerging economies avoid the middle income trap and slowing per capita growth,” added Dr. Bayhaqi.

 

To move up the supply value chain, the report recommends APEC economies nurture human capital through technical skills training and more flexible immigration policies. Developing greater research and development, and design capabilities will also help a region’s suppliers capture higher value-added activity. Other forms of valuable government support include access to financing, education for suppliers on trade regulation variations in the region, wider regional free trade agreements, regional intellectual property rights protection and a combination of localized financial incentives and advanced infrastructure to nurture the electronics industry cluster. APEC economies are also strongly advised to address key challenges that may reduce the competitiveness of certain suppliers or regions. Some of these challenges include shorter product life cycles, natural disasters and trade barriers. “Global Supply Chain Operation in the APEC Region: Case Study of the Electrical and Electronics Industry,” by the APEC Policy Support Unit, is available for download at this link.

From http://www.apec.org/ 07/05/2013

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EUROPE: Commission Announces 13.7 Million Boost to Cross-Border Digital Public Services

 

Following the successful collaboration between EU Member States, industry, national administrations, academia, the private sector and local communities on a series of projects to make living, working, travelling, studying and doing business across borders easier, the European Commission is making a 13.7 million investment to further develop cross-border digital public services. The new "e-SENS" project (Electronic Simple European Networked Services) will help develop digital public services which make it easier for companies to do business in their own Member State and elsewhere in the EU -including setting up a company, fulfilling legal requirements and taking part in public tenders. It will also link up national digital services for citizens who visit a different Member State on holiday, or for work or study.

From https://ec.europa.eu/ 08/14/2013

 

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Estonians Spend Less On-Line

 

The share of e-commerce of all retail trade is on average less than half in Estonia than it is in Europe, reports Postimees. While in 2010, the turnover of e-commerce formed an average of 3.5 percent of total retail trade turnover in Europe, in Estonia the indicator was just 1.5 percent. In the e-commerce flagship UK, the indicator was 7.9 percent. E-commerce turnover grows in almost all of Europe every year, but the indicator changes slowly and, in Estonia, the result is still around 1.5 percent in 2013. Even the state is worried about the poor indicators of e-commerce. The State Chancellery last year ordered a study ‘Using e-business and e-commerce in Estonia and the possibilities of expanding the usage,’ which indicated that 86 percent of Estonians have bought goods or services from e-channels, but mostly they buy services. “It is likely that a large part of the consumers of services who responded are people who pay their electricity and gas bills online and buy tickets,” said e-commerce union CEO Merle Kangur. Kangur estimates that Estonia is behind Europe in regards to buying from local e-stores, while people order lots of goods from abroad. The problem with Estonian e-stores is credibility, which is low because of fraudsters who operate in the market. “Since e-commerce is a simple business, with low entrance costs, there are very many of them [fraudsters] there,” said Kangur. “They communicate to clients till the money transfer is done and then disappear, don’t answer letters or calls, the Consumer Protection Board cannot catch them either.” From the start of July this year, the Tax and Customs Board designated special officials to work on e-commerce.

From http://www.baltictimes.com/ 08/08/2013

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Poland Has 55.5 Million Mobile Phone Subscriptions

 

There were 55.5 million users or subscribers of mobile telephone services in Poland as of the end of June this year, statistics office GUS stated. This number grew by 2.2 percent compared to the end of December. Out of the total number, 54 percent comes from prepaid services. In the same period, the number of fixed-line telephone connections in Poland decreased by 5 percent and amounted to 5.8 million at the end of June. GUS also said that the sales of telecommunications services in the first half of 2013 grew by 4 percent year-on-year.

From http://www.wbj.pl/ 07/24/2013

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British PM Slams Internet Companies

 

Google and other Internet firms are helping to supply illegal images of child abuse to "sick and malevolent" people, the British prime minister said Monday. David Cameron accused the company of making money out of circulating pictures and videos of children being sexually abused. He warned Google, Bing and Yahoo that they faced being forced by law to ban Internet searches for illegal images if they refused to do so voluntarily.

From http://www.montrealgazette.com/ 07/23/2013

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NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - Commerce Seeks Unified Customer Management System

 

The Commerce Department is considering purchasing a single, cloud-based customer relations management system that it can use across its 12 agencies, solicitation documents show. The unified system would replace a hodgepodge of existing software tools that manage and track Commerce agencies’ marketing campaigns, surveys and Web and social media communications with citizens, according to the documents posted in May. The existing systems are a mix of commercial products, custom-built systems and software-as-a-service options, meaning the systems are managed and maintained by external contractors. A departmentwide system will help Commerce operate more efficiently and save money through economies of scale, the department said. The move was also prompted by White House mandates to ramp up shared services within departments and agencies and to move as much government computing as possible to computer clouds, which can store information and systems more cheaply than on-site data centers. The solicitation document did not include an estimate of likely savings from the unified system. The document was a request for information, which means the government is surveying possible vendors and hasn’t committed to buying anything. If the department does issue a request for quotation, work will likely begin on the project in 2014, Commerce said. The winning system will serve roughly 6,000 Commerce employees who must be able to access it through computers, smartphones and tablets, the department said. The system may be placed inside a public or hybrid cloud, which means it will have slightly looser security requirements and share cloud space with private sector systems, according to a question-and-answer document attached to the RFI. The proposed system will face challenges, including “multiple ‘stovepipe’ systems that require [Commerce] staff to access and manually organize relevant information from several different systems when interacting with customers,” the department said.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 06/10/2013

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Giants Knocking at the CEE E-Business Doors

 

The entry of Google or Amazon to the e-commerce market in CEE has been brought up on many occasions, but the business does not seem to take the matter seriously. The bill for turning your eyes away from the global trends and restraining from action will be very high – Mateusz Gordon, Gemius expert in e-commerce, sums up. Within the next 5-10 years the CEE online commerce sector will be undergoing changes leading towards greater concentration and globalization. Apart from such companies as Apple, Google, eBay or Amazon – stocking heavily in e-commerce – the industry’s potential has also been noticed by mighty investment funds that contribute to the emergence of yet other giants by supporting consolidation. An example illustrating this phenomenon is Zalando – an online store in the portfolio of Internet Rockets, a fund quickly gaining ground on the CEE market. There are a number of its clones operating around the world. Even if they differ among each other in their geographic catchment or  range of offer, they still are based on the same business model, copied from market to market. And so, in Asia it is known as Lazada, in Africa – Zando and Jumia, in Brasil as Dafiti, and in the Middle East as Namshi; the latter recently injected with 13m investment dollars by the fund.

 

Arrival of Google and Amazon is a question of time

The CEE e-commerce will also evolve in response to the upcoming expansion of Google, now launching Google Shopping in new countries and doing so in a more subtle manner than Amazon: it monetizes its e-market presence by affiliating the buyer with the seller. The aforementioned presence is, however, no longer an exclusively virtual one. By acquiring logistics companies, Google has begun introducing same-day delivery service. Thus, as a direct competitor for e-stores and price comparison websites, it becomes a real threat to e-commerce investors in CEE. The introduction of Google Shopping on the CEE market will be a blow most painful to price comparison sites, which following the example of e-stores, have quite recently broadened their offer with the “add to cart” functionality, hence allowing the customer to strike a transaction directly on their site. Consequently, they took over a significant competency of smaller online shops. This is how a pyramid of competencies and concentrating the market around large entities is being built. Interestingly, most of them have Google Analytics scripts embedded in them, and their data belongs to Google – according to the regulations. One could not wish for a more comfortable situation on the eve of the Mountain View giant expansion. 

 

Another area where Google invests is the tourist industry. In some countries, special applications provided by the corporation offer search services concerning flights and hotels. There is little doubt that the currently scattered booking market will become far more concentrated. Especially that most of the traffic on these websites is generated via the Google search engine. Amazon’s entry to the CEE market is only a matter of time. Whether it arrives is not the right question to ask anymore. Allegro, the local player, did manage to fight off one eBay assault on the internet auctioning market, but will the dispersed e-store segment repel? Quite improbable in the light of the fact that a considerable number of Poles already shop in the largest e-bookstore of the globe. According to Megapanel PBI/Gemius data, Amazon is one of the ten e-shops scoring best in audience rankings with 4 per cent of Polish internet users visiting the site.

 

Consolidation will help defend against expansion of giants

What strategy is to be taken, then? Can you protect CEE e-business against global competition? There are at least several solutions at hand. First off, you cannot forget it is narrow specialization that counts: expert assistance and wide range of choice will serve as added value for customers. Clients searching online for goods by very specific criteria, e.g. shoes or cosmetics, are more willing to buy them in a dedicated shoe or cosmetics store, respectively, rather than in one of these massive malls offering a wide choice of merchandise from all product categories. You could also bet on uniqueness. Moving away from mass sale is a way to offer customers the types of goods that are hard to copy. There is much truth in the common phrase saying that only those entrepreneurs who do not sell barcoded products will avoid being trod over by Amazon. This surely pertains to handicraft, art and design. Another way is to join forces in business and pursue a common goal, which should be fostering brand awareness, so as to increase the competitiveness of offer against foreign corporations. It might be worthwhile to promptly get down to building barriers where the giants have not taken over yet; when they do come it will already be too late to unite.

 

It may seem that consolidation of local businesses equals sharing confidential trade information. This argument is often put forward by owners of e-commerce companies whenever the is subject of joining forces is brought up. But do they plan to consolidate with Google? Rarely do entrepreneurs realise that the global giant, developing competitive services on the European market, already has the key data about their business activity. It may hence be most beneficial to refer to research tools that facilitate aggregation of data on website traffic and transaction data, as well as their comparative analysis while keeping the secrecy of performance details against competition. Such solution, offered by an independent research entity, and not the potential client, may limit the influence of world giants, who may briskly shift from a role of a tool provider to a competitor, as it is happening now on the western markets. Creating a standard for the e-commerce market, which could be a point of reference for the entire sector, is the only future. Will this mechanism prove effective? This may be best illustrated on the example of the advertising industry. Creating a standard currency for measuring the online market was a great boost to the development of that sector.

 

Nothing is worse in business than idleness

An interesting move, in the view of the giants’ arrival onto the Polish market, was made by Merlin.pl: it was acquired by Czerwona Torebka, a company owned in 70 per cent by Mariusz Świtalski, who is one of the most affluent Poles, a creator of retail brands such as Biedronka or Żabka. With this merger, Merlin will be developing a network of collection points. At present, there are seven of them, but by the end of this year there are going to be as many as thirty five in total. It would appear that their natural location will be the shopping centres built by Czerwona Torebka, but the rumour has it that Merlin will not restrain to these venues only. The investor says such points could come in thousands, ultimately. This sets a barrier hard to cross for small shops, but also for global competition. So the path chosen by Czerwona Torebka is most intriguing. Ideas on how to resist the giants are plenty. Whether they end up in failure or succeed we shall soon see. For the time being, the shops that are taking action deserve a honorable mention, as it is idleness that is the worst attitude to take in business. Unfortunately, I constantly hear shop owners saying: “We’ve heard about Google or Amazon entering the CEE e-commerce market for so long, but their plans are always postponed". Strategic thinking needs a wider perspective. Turning one’s eyes away from global trends and restraining from any reaction will bring a painful failure.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 06/22/2013

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The New Hot Commodities Market - The Cloud

 

Have some spare computing capacity in your data center, aka the “cloud”? Why not make some scratch by selling it on the open market? Or, if you’re so inclined, you could trade derivatives of cloud computing. In place of mortgage-backed securities, perhaps the world’s banks can pour their savings into another abstract financial instrument that depends on the reliability of Amazon’s web services. What could possibly go wrong? This is the promise of a new exchange for cloud computing capacity, called Cloud Exchange AG, which will launch early next year. It’s a joint venture of Deutsche B?rse, which runs the Frankfurt stock exchange, and software development firm Zimory. Trading computing capacity isn’t as simple as trading, say, wheat. The system implemented by the two firms will allow buyers to specify the location of servers, the precise vendor (e.g. Amazon, IBM, Rackspace), security measures and transfer speed, among other things.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 07/03/2013

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Border Protection Agency Considers E-Commerce

 

The Customs and Border Protection Agency is considering contracting for an “online storefront” that its offices could use to order information technology products, according to documents posted Tuesday. The proposed storefront would be hosted and operated by an outside vendor but built to the agency’s specifications, according to the request for information. The interface should include a list of managers who can approve specific purchases, the RFI said. The storefront should be up and running within 90 days and may be expanded to include non-IT items in the future, according to the RFI. It should offer offices “the ability to view and compare information technology products in various categories, place and fulfill orders against established IT product contracts or approved commercial catalogs, make payment via government purchase card or other approved method and track deliveries,” the notice said.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 07/05/2013

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CHINA: E-commerce Is Just the Business for the World's Future

 

With a click of the mouse, a transaction can be completed. That's the power of e-commerce.So, there is no wonder e-commerce companies are a significant part of the second China International Fair for Trade in Services, which opened on Tuesday.The five-day event, at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, serves as a high-end platform for e-commerce companies to showcase their latest developments and applications to visitors across the world, organizers and officials said.Sun Yao, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce, said more than 1,300 industry specialists, experts, commerce authorities and corporate representatives had applied to attend the upcoming event.The participants include a number of high-tech giants including eBay, the Intel China Research Center and JD.com, he said.The fair's attraction to e-commerce companies can be also seen by the increasing number of new faces.

 

Lin Ya, vice-president of the Beijing Electronic Commerce Association, said more than 30 percent of the e-commerce companies are participating at the fair for the first time.Even some companies that had not focused on e-commerce will display their progress in developing e-commerce business in recent years, Lin said."This shows that e-commerce has become a broad trend and will help create a better business environment for China's e-commerce industry," he said.About 30 million yuan ($4.88 million) worth of contracts were signed last year, according to Lin.He said that e-commerce deals signed at the fair will surpass those of last year.Forums will be held at the fair to discuss topics including e-commerce applications for traditional companies, mobile e-commerce and the e-commerce ecosystem.The Ministry of Commerce will release and explain policies related to the industry.Another highlight of the event will be displays of latest technology to show how e-commerce is changing people's lives.

 

Among them, the Internet of Things, or the intelligent logistics system based on the Internet, will be in focus.For instance, JD.com will showcase its new logistics project model, called Asia No 1, and invite visitors to experience the mobile client and 24-hour self-service goods pick-up machines. Oloey.com, which mainly focuses on community services, will display its public platform based on WeChat, a popular mobile communication system in China.Nie Linhai, deputy inspector of the electric commerce and information department of the Ministry of Commerce, said China's e-commerce industry has witnessed explosive growth in recent years.Sales in the industry were 1.5 trillion yuan in 2006, but the number rose to 8 trillion yuan in 2012, with an annual increase of more than 30 percent, he said.However, he also admitted that the industry is still in its initial stages and the uneven regional development is a major problem. The coastal areas have developed faster than Central and West China."We hope to accelerate the e-commerce development in those areas that have lagged behind through this event, by sharing resources and strengthening communication," he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 05/29/2013

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New Battle for 4G Equipment Market Share

 

China Mobile Ltd has officially launched its largest tender ever for the construction of its fourth generation (4G) network in China, igniting a new battle among telecom gear makers for market share.On June 21, China Mobile, the world's largest telecom operator by subscribers, posted an online tender saying it plans to purchase equipment for 207,000 4G base stations.That purchase means the number of China Mobile's 4G base stations is likely to catch up with that of its 3G base stations soon.China Mobile is using the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution technology for its next-generation mobile network.Unlike its 3G tenders, China Mobile said it will not accept agent bidders or those who make all critical equipment on an original equipment manufacturing basis.

 

The Chinese telecom operator's capital spending will jump 49 percent year-on-year to 190.2 billion yuan ($30.5 billion) in 2013. More than half of the company's network expenditure, or 42 billion yuan, will go on 4G projects this year.Foreign and domestic telecoms equipment vendors have shown strong interest in China Mobile's 4G network deployment.Yuan Xin, president of Alcatel-Lucent China, said he is very optimistic about achieving a satisfactory result in the third quarter, when China Mobile announces the final bidding results."TD-LTE business will be the core foundation for Alcatel Lucent's future development," Yuan said at a Shanghai news conference on Monday. China's 4G industry is about to take off, since the market environment for LTE development has matured, he said. "Based on our solid technology and 4G experience in and out of China, we are confident of performing well," he added.

 

Alcatel-Lucent had the largest share, or 14.5 percent, among foreign telecom gear makers during China Mobile's first round of 4G tenders last year, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.The company is the major telecom equipment supplier for Verizon Communications Inc's 4G network, which covers about 200 million subscribers in the United States."We even dream of introducing TD-LTE technology to the US market, which follows the trend that carriers worldwide want to make the best use of spectrum resources," he said.Because foreign telecom equipment vendors achieved less than a 30 percent market share in total during the first round bidding of China Mobile's TD-LTE tender, they seemed more anxious to improve their positions by grabbing bigger shares this time.

 

"We are not satisfied with the results Ericsson achieved in China Mobile's first-round 4G bidding last year," said Mats H. Olsson, senior vice-president of Ericsson Asia-Pacific, during the 2013 Mobile World Congress held in Spain in February."In the past Ericsson paid a lot of attention to countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea and mainly focused on the deployment of FDD-LTE networks. Now we have turned our sights on China and TD-LTE technology," Olsson said.However, analysts argued that domestic rivals still hold advantages over foreign players. Chen Peng, analyst with China Merchants Securities Co Ltd, said he expected Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp to gain more than half of the share in China Mobile's 4G bidding.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/25/2013

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China's Telecom Firms Reveal 4G Strategies

 

China's three telecom operators have laid out their strategies on the development of fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile networks, as the official issuance of 4G licenses is expected to happen soon.China Mobile Ltd - the world's biggest telecom operator by subscribers - has always been an aggressive promoter of the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution, or TD-LTE, 4G technology.Xi Guohua, its chairman, briefed the press on the company's latest progress on TD-LTE network deployment at Shanghai's Mobile Asia Expo on Wednesday.Xi said that China Mobile has built more than 22,000 4G base stations in 15 Chinese cities, but that it plans to set up 200,000 base stations in 100 cities by the year-end.

 

However, the other two smaller Chinese telecom operators - China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd - have expressed their willingness to adopt the Frequency Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution, or FDD-LTE, technology, or at least to build a converged network under both standards.TD-LTE and FDD-LTE are the two major 4G international standards, but the latter has gained more popularity across the globe and has stronger industry support.Lu Yimin, general manager of China Unicom, said the company is conducting tests for 4G wireless networks with mixed technologies. It is the first time that China Unicom has admitted that it is actively preparing to launch 4G services.However, Lu added that because the Chinese government has not yet awarded the 4G licenses, China Unicom's final strategy is still "uncertain."

 

Lu also made the remarks at Shanghai's Mobile Asia Expo.Last weekend, Wang Xiaochu, China Telecom's chairman, confirmed that the company is stepping up efforts for its LTE network trials."It's inevitable (for China Telecom) to adopt a converged network, since the spectrum is at the core of every carrier's resources," Wang said.Even though Chinese authorities have not said exactly when they plan to issue the 4G licenses, industry experts expect the licenses to be awarded shortly.He Shiyou, executive vice-president of ZTE, expressed an optimistic view on TD-LTE's prospects in China."I think that all the three Chinese telecom carriers will get TD-LTE 4G licenses because the rich TD-LTE spectrum resources in China allow the government to do so," he said.Shang Bing, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the development of the TD-LTE technology has entered a fast-track phase.

 

"The Chinese government will firmly support TD-LTE industry development, and help create a favorable policy and market environment," he said on Wednesday.The moves by the three Chinese carriers will help to further back the development of 4G technology globally, said Anne Bouverot, director-general of the GSM Association, an industry alliance of mobile operators and related companies."In general, what matters is not to have the absolutely best technology, but that everybody agrees to deploy it. That's where you get the economy of scale, and get the equipment for networks and handsets to improve each time there is a new release," she said.Analysts have said that LTE 4G technology will usher in a society much more connected and convenient for people.Jin Lee, senior managing director at Accenture's mobility department in South Korea, said that LTE will provide speeds about 50 percent higher than current Wi-Fi networks."Once consumers get to taste that speed, they will never go back," Lee said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/27/2013

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Alipay Fund Sees Over 2.5 Million Users

 

Alipay's online fund - Tianhong Zenglibao - now has more than 2.5 million registered users despite the fund still faces potential regulatory hurdles.The users have transferred more than 6.6 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) into the market fund which may help them earn a return from investments made by the mutual fund.Hanggzhou-based Alipay, China's largest third party payment platform, said in a statement yesterday that so far up to 1.6 million payments for online orders on Taobao have been made from the mutual fund accounts held by Alipay users.The China Securities Depository and Clearing Co Ltd said 44.2 million domestic investors have opened mutual fund accounts by the end of May.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/02/2013

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Firms Put Most Cash into Online Businesses

 

China's venture capital and private equity firms quickened their investment pace in June, with the Internet sector getting the most investments and the energy and mineral industry grabbing a total of US$3.9 billion in funding.There were also more withdrawals by the VC/PE firms last month, according to a report by the Zero2IPO Research Center.In June 50 investment deals were sealed by the VC/PE firms, up 47.1 percent from May, the report said, adding that 38 of the deals were worth US$4.5 billion.The investment amount soared 465.1 percent from a month earlier due to a mega injection of US$3.9 billion in PetroChina United Pipelines Co Ltd, the Beijing-based information provider said.The real estate sector attracted US$250 million in funds while US$109 million went into the agriculture and farming sector.With 13 companies getting the funds, the Internet industry received the most PE/VC investments. The telecommunication industry was second with nine investments, and machine manufacturing and the media industry attracted four investments each.The number of withdrawals rose from nine in May to 16 in June, the report said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/02/2013

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China to Float 40 Bln Yuan in E-savings Bonds

 

Two batches of electronic savings bonds worth up to 40 billion yuan (6.47 billion U.S. dollars) will be issued by China's Ministry of Finance (MOF), it was announced Wednesday.The two batches will be the fifth and sixth issuance of such bonds this year, according to a ministry statement.The fifth batch is worth 24 billion yuan and carries a term of three years with a fixed annual interest rate of 5 percent. The sixth issuance of five-year bonds is worth 16 billion yuan at a fixed annual interest rate of 5.41 percent, the MOF said.The bonds will be issued from July 10 to 19. Interest will be calculated from July 10 and paid annually, the statement said.The bonds will be available to individual investors at counters of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications and China Guangfa Bank, it said.Electronic savings bonds are considered more convenient than other types, as interest can be paid directly into the investor's account.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/03/2013

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Global Online Shopping Benefits Chinese Manufacturers

 

With just a few clicks on a shopping website, a Nigerian girl buys her favorite wig, to be delivered to her home several days later from China.That was a scene shown Sunday by Chinese national broadcaster CCTV.An African girl buying Chinese products on the Internet is, by no means, an isolated case. In fact, cross-border online shopping has become quite a frenzy in recent years.Despite that, though, online sales of Chinese-made goods in foreign markets are still a new phenomenon and represent a strategic opportunity for China's giant manufacturing sector.If the popularity of global online shopping continues to grow, it would provide a vital channel for China to sell more of its products to the rest of the world. In the long run, it may even reshape the face of global trade.Overseas consumers can save a lot of money by purchasing quality goods from China via the Internet because the products are generally cheaper than their counterparts from elsewhere in the world.

 

This comparative advantage has made Chinese goods popular among online shoppers in Russia, Brazil, America and Europe. Chinese-made commodities such as clothes, suitcases, mobile phones and shoes are among the best-selling items.In the larger picture, the trend may also help modify the unfair distribution of profits in global trade.China has been the world's largest exporter since 2009. However, it receives only a small portion of the profits generated by goods that are domestically produced but sold through retailers in developed economies.The situation may be corrected, though, if online shopping continues to prosper across the globe and the made-in-China label can be brought directly to individual consumers.Global online shopping, however, is still in its infancy and its future is closely tied to the development of online payment mechanisms, cross-border deliveries and tax issues.It is safe to say, meanwhile, that online shopping is a rising wave sweeping the globe. Online shopping boasts unprecedented vitality and its significant role for Chinese-made goods should not be underestimated.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/16/2013

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Buying Online Becoming a Global Craze

 

The United States is the biggest online buyer of Chinese goods with China set to sell more than $10 billion of products through the Internet in the top five global markets, a report showed on Wednesday."As online shopping becomes increasingly popular in both emerging and developed markets, merchants in China are poised to embrace rapid business growth in the next five years," said PayPal, publisher of the report.US Internet users will spend nearly 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) on purchasing goods made in China this year, making the country the top spender on Chinese goods, according to the report.Other top buyers include the United Kingdom (expected to spend 7.4 billion yuan on Chinese products this year) and Australia, which it is anticipated will spend 5.2 billion yuan.Investors and the nation's Internet giants are fully aware of the increasing demand for Chinese goods on the Web.

 

Last month, LightInTheBox Holding Ltd, a Beijing-based online retailer targeting international buyers, raised $78.9 million after an initial public offering in New York. In the meantime, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd are hurriedly mapping out cross-border payment services for Chinese retailers.China's cross-border online shopping sales are on track to hit 144 billion yuan by 2018, more than double this year's amount, PayPal estimated.The nation is the world's third-largest exporter in the cross-border online shopping sector, after the US and the United Kingdom.Data from the China E-commerce Research Center showed turnover of cross-border online trade increased more than 25 percent year-on-year in 2012. The market size will continue to enjoy double-digit growth this year despite the gross domestic product growth of China slowing down, said the center.Clothes, shoes and accessories are among the most popular items for overseas buyers.

 

Global shoppers will spend $12.5 billion on these products, said PayPal after interviewing more than 5,000 buyers."Despite the world suffering from a massive economic slowdown, online shoppers' enthusiasm for foreign goods continues to surge over the years," said Patrick Foo, head of cross-border trade at PayPal China.Demand for made-in-China products from emerging markets will also witness rapid expansion in the coming years, he added.Brazil, the fifth-biggest buyer, is expected to spend 1.8 billion yuan this year. It will be spending 11.4 billion yuan on Chinese goods five years later, said the report.However, doing business with buyers outside China is not a way to earn easy money, the report warned.Language barriers, cultural differences and transaction security remain the top obstacles for Chinese e-commerce vendors.

 

Chinese vendors need to carefully study the target market before tapping into it because every country's online shopping market is different from another, said Foo."In the UK, people are used to booking flight tickets on the Web while Brazilians are used to buying computers online," he added.The report also showed the mobile cross-border e-commerce sector is outgrowing the overall market in size, another big trend that merchants in China don't want to miss out on.Transactions on mobile devices will reach $51 billion globally in 2018 while the amount may not exceed $20 billion this year, said the report.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/25/2013

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Alibaba, E-concierge, Soon at Your Service

 

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd plans to boost its presence in China's online market, and is adding services to ease consumers' daily lives, from ordering food to booking movie tickets.The company expects the new business area to become a major revenue source in the future.Online shopping has become a new way of life for many Chinese consumers, said Zhang Jianfeng, vice-president of Alibaba Group. And the company has realized that customers are not satisfied with merely buying items on Internet."Gradually, consumers are developing a strong demand for daily life services, in fields like catering, entertainment and travel," Zhang said at a Beijing news conference on Thursday.Taobao Life, a platform owned by Alibaba that provides such services, has been receiving unprecedented attention from Alibaba's management since the beginning of the year.

 

In March, Alibaba's chairman Jack Ma said that "amazing" things will happen if everyday activities are combined with mobile Internet services.Ma compared the growing importance of e-commerce in people's lives to "the rising sun at 5 or 6 am", and Alibaba expressed its ambition to develop the new business to reach a scale similar to its booming Taobao Marketplace.If so, investors who are eyeing Alibaba's possible initial public offering will find another bright spot for the company's future profitability, analysts said.Alibaba is said to be planning to include its e-commerce platforms - Taobao Mall, Taobao Marketplace and eTao - into the planned IPO package. Last year, Taobao Mall and Taobao Marketplace posted about 1 trillion yuan ($163 billion) in total transaction value.Zhang revealed that the Taobao Life platform has three strategic business sectors.

 

One is Taobao Diandian, a mobile application launched in July that helps customers order food.More than 100 restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou have opened services on Diandian.Meanwhile, Taobao Movie is the nation's biggest mobile platform to buy film tickets. It allows clients in more than 100 Chinese cities to select seats from about 800 theaters, Zhang said.The company also set up a platform on Taobao Life, known as Offer, which provides people with classifieds in areas such as apartment rentals and housekeeping services.Song Yang, e-commerce senior analyst with the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, said that there's a promising future for companies able to successfully combine people's everyday needs with the Internet-based services."There are no official statistics about the size of the market, but this is the future of e-commerce. Because the services are all about making people's everyday life better and easier, " Song said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/26/2013

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China Boosts Information Consumption

 

Authorities are aiming to support the consumption of information products and services and make the sector a new engine for boosting domestic demand and driving economic growth. By the end of 2015, the consumption of information products and services is expected to grow at an annual pace of at least 20 percent to reach 3.2 trillion yuan (518 billion U.S. dollars), according to a guideline released by the State Council, China's cabinet, on Wednesday."As China's personal consumption is upgrading and the country is undergoing the processes of industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, information consumption has a sound foundation and tremendous potential," the guideline says.

 

"Boosting information consumption can invigorate domestic demand and act as a new growth point for the economy, as well as upgrade the service industry, promote economic restructuring and improve people's lives," it says. The guideline highlights innovation and the power of market forces as ways to promote rapid and healthy information consumption. The value of industries that are supported by information consumption is expected to increase by 1.2 trillion yuan by the end of 2015, according to the guideline. Internet-based consumption should grow by at least 30 percent annually to 2.4 trillion yuan, according to the guideline. According to the data published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China's e-commerce sector raked in 4.98 trillion yuan in revenue in the first half of this year, up 45.3 percent year on year.

 

Consumption of information products and services jumped 20.7 percent year on year to 2.07 trillion yuan, while the output of smartphones surged 120 percent to 214 million units. With China's economy posting a prolonged slowdown in the past two years, the government has resolved to boost domestic demand to rebalance its outdated growth model that is overly reliant on investment and exports. But the rebalancing drive remains an arduous task. In the first half, consumption constituted 45.2 percent of GDP growth, compared with 53.9 percent from investment, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The guideline also outlines the major tasks for promoting information consumption. To upgrade telecommunications infrastructure, the government will release 4G mobile communications licenses later this year. By the end of this year, the government will also push the integration of telecommunications, Internet and broadcasting networks into one complete system covering the entire nation.

From http://www.news.cn/ 08/14/2013

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JAPAN: Thin Surveillance of Online Drug Sales

 

Despite the government’s plan to allow online sales of almost all nonprescription drugs, none of the prefectural governments have any staff exclusively engaged in monitoring illegal transactions on the Internet, according to a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun. There is no sufficient surveillance mechanism in place for online drug sales, which are presently allowed for low-risk nonprescription drugs, such as vitamins and intestinal drugs. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to set rules for online drug sales in autumn. One of the biggest challenges in this task is likely to be how to establish an effective surveillance mechanism. Nonprescription drugs are grouped into three categories in accordance with the level of possible health risks they pose. Category 3 drugs--those posing the lowest risk--have been officially cleared for online sales since June 2009. They are monitored by prefectural governments, which have the authority to grant licenses for drug sales. In addition to whether business operators are properly registered, prefectural governments are supposed to check if unapproved or fake drugs are being sold online. They are also supposed to monitor Internet auctions to see if unlicensed dealers are selling drugs.

 

However, all the prefectural governments told The Yomiuri Shimbun they have no staff engaged solely in Net monitoring. The Kyoto prefectural government has a better system than most, assigning a former police officer on its staff to watch for fake medical products. But most others are giving the task to employees who are also engaged in cracking down on quasi-legal “herbs” and illegal drugs. Aichi, Niigata, Hiroshima and some other prefectures said these employees just respond to complaints they receive over online drug sales. Aomori and Ibaraki prefectures said they have no personnel dealing with online monitoring. The Tokyo metropolitan government has five employees assigned to monitor online drug sales, but they are busy with on-the-spot investigations of unlicensed sales agents and other tasks unrelated to Net monitoring. “In addition to checking registered business operators, we have to check for illegal dealers popping up in the market,” said Toshihisa Noguchi, director of the metropolitan government’s Pharmaceutical Affairs Section. “It’s logistically difficult to respond perfectly [to online drug sales].”

 

When the scope of online drug sales expands, about 75 items from high-risk Category 1, such as stomach medicine and hair growth formula, and all of the about 8,290 items in Category 2, including cold medicine, will be eligible for sale online. Although their burden in monitoring drug sales will certainly be heavier, Hokkaido, Yamagata, Gunma, Oita and other prefectures said they cannot increase their staff due to financial constraints. The health ministry is considering requiring online retailers to list pharmacists’ names and their registration numbers on their sites, which means more items for the prefectural governments to handle. Akita and Chiba prefectures said the central government should provide the prefectural governments with information on effective monitoring. Kagawa, Ehime and Saga prefectures said monitoring should be handled by the central government, as that would be much more effective than the current system.

From http://the-japan-news.com/ 06/30/2013

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Backlash Occurs in Japan over Sales of Train E-Ticket Records

 

A privacy debate has erupted in Japan over a new service from a major rail operator that sells private e-ticket records as marketing data. This week East Japan Railway (JR East), the country's largest rail company, has begun offering for sale the anonymized histories of millions of its passengers. The data is gleaned from its Suica train pass system, which is Japan's most popular with 43 million users, roughly equivalent to a third of the national population. JR East and Hitachi, which will handle the technical aspects of the service, announced it last week via a terse news release that initially drew little attention. But this is the first time Suica information has been sold to third parties, and the news was soon highlighted by prominent bloggers, triggering a discussion that has now spread to Twitter and other online forums. "Even if there is a proper way to use this (data), it must be done with the approval of society," wrote Hiromitsu Takagi, a professor and prominent commentator on data privacy, on his Twitter account. Some were less reserved, with many calling the new service "revolting." "Personally, rather than being revolted, I just don't have confidence in the ability of JR East and Hitachi to manage the data," wrote another commentator.

 

The Japanese debate is unfolding as the rest of the world reacts to revelations aboutsurveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency. The tale of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who released details of the surveillance, has been closely followed by the media in Japan, where many are hesitant to publicize their private details online. JR East's service provides details for passengers that use specific stations, such as their sex, the date and time they used the service, and the amount they spent. The company and Hitachi are adamant that no laws are being broken, and JR East says the Suica user contract gives it rights to the passenger data. "There is no way to determine the identity of specific individuals from the data, so we feel there is no privacy issue," said Takashi Yamaguchi, a JR East spokesman. Hitachi is marketing the service as an example of its prowess at handling "Big Data" a foreign buzzword for using powerful servers to crunch through large amounts of information that has recently caught on in Japan. The cheapest price for the service is $50,000, which provides passenger data on ten stations for a year. New data is added to the system monthly.

 

"This is statistical data," said Hisahiro Sakai, a spokesman for Hitachi. "We will aim to sell it to station tenants, or companies that are thinking of starting businesses in stations, as well as real estate companies and advertisers that want information about specific stations." JR East was already facing criticism over a newly installed entrance at a busy station in the eastern part of Tokyo. The gates at the "nonowa" entrance only work with Suica or compatible touch cards, so travelers with traditional tickets or passes must take another route."No one without an IC Card gets in?" asked the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest newspapers, in the headline of an article that said many locals consider the entrance to be a form of discrimination.Another train organization was forced to change its policies after an embarrassing leak last year. An employee of Tokyo Metro, which runs the city's subway system, disclosed the "Pasmo" train pass history of a female passenger, forcing the company to cancel a service that allowed users to view their histories online.

 

Suica, launched in 2001, uses NFC technology developed by Sony. Initially offered as train passes that had to be periodically recharged, the technology is now built into credit cards, mobile phones, and even USB readers that can be plugged into PCs for home shopping. Payment can now be made in many convenient stores and restaurants, as well as taxi cabs and vending machines. In March, the most popular regional electronic train pass systems in use throughout Japan signed agreements so that they could all be used interchangeably. The data sold by JR East currently covers only users of its own Suica system. JR East is the largest of Japan's seven overland railway companies, formed when a nationwide rail system run by the government was broken up in 1987. JR East's domain covers about half of Japan's main island, including the crowded Tokyo capital and surrounding metropolis. It runs everything from daily commuters to the bullet trains that operate on its territory, all of which are compatible with Suica.

From http://www.pcworld.com 07/05/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: IT Exports, Trade Surplus Set Record Highs in May

 

Government data shows South Korea's export volume and trade surplus in information technology hit all-time highs last month. The Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry says IT exports in May are tentatively estimated at 15-point-one billion dollars and the IT trade surplus is projected at eight-point-27 billion dollars. The figures are 17 and 23-point-six percent up year-on-year, respectively. The rise is attributed to solid performance of Korean IT staples in the global market including smartphones, semiconductors and flat screen televisions.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 06/10/2013

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South Korea's KT to Spend $2.65B Upgrading Network, Creating Jobs

 

KT Corporation said it will spend 3 trillion won (US$2.65 billion) to upgrade its communications network, and create 25,000 jobs over the next five years. According to Yonhap News on Tuesday, the spending is approximately half of the 6 trillion won (US$5.3 billion) spent last year by the nation's three mobile carriers, including SK Telecom and LG Uplus, for their installation of the long-term evolution (LTE) networks. The project will be funded by proceeds from sales of KT assets, the South Korean telco said. The telco added it will also beef up its presnce in Southeast Asia and South American markets. In April, the mobile carrier had announced plans to hire 1,000 retirees as IT service-related teachers to focus on educating youths over the next three years as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. It also said in January it will set up a 150 billion won (US$132 million) fund by 2017 to help smaller firms, and create 1,800 jobs every year.

From http://www.zdnet.com 06/11/2013

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Korea Tops Global Smartphone Penetration in 2012

 

Korea has the highest level of smartphone ownership in the world, an American market research group said. Korea ranked top in world smartphone penetration last year by recording 67.6 percent, the U.S.-based Strategy Analytics reported on June 25. This means 67 people out of 100 people used smartphones last year, showing a higher than 70 percent increase from 2008 when Korea recorded 0.9 percent smartphone ownership. Korea’s smartphone user rate is four times higher than that of the average global rate of smartphone ownership which recorded 14.8 percent in the report. Norway ranked second with 55 percent, followed by Japan and the United States which recorded 39.9 percent and 39.8 percent, respectively, ranking third and fourth. China recorded 19.3 percent. The rapid increase of smartphone users is attributed to the “early adapter” taste of Korean consumers, and Korean companies’’ advancements in producing state-of-the-art smartphones with high-definition displays, speedy operation technology, and savvy marketing strategies. 

From http://www.korea.net 07/02/2013

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S. Korea Banks to Segment Network, Establish Data Backup

 

South Korea's financial regulator will require banks to build a two-pronged network system, and pushing to develop a backup center for data storage, to avert cyberattacks. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) said on Thursday it plans to have large banks separate their network systems into two partitions with one for internal use and the other for external use by next year, Yonhap News Agency reported. Under the new measures, banks must split their main operating system first in the next 12 months before gradually splitting the network system at headquarters and branches, which is likely to take a few more years, the FSC explained. The costs for splitting this network system will be approximately 1 to 4 billion won (US$889,878-US$3,559,512), and may vary depending on each bank's size. The FSC is also pushing to establish a consolidated backup center for data storage, the FSC said. Even though there is already a secondary place for banks' data retrieval in the event of a cyberattack or natural disaster, this will be a third rescue center for emergency data recovery, it added. The backup center will most likely be set up as an underground bunker far away from South Korea's capital Seoul for security purposes, the regulator said. The move comes as efforts to ensure a safe online network system are one of the top priorities for South Korean finacial firms, after some Web sites including Shinhan Bank were hacked by an unknown malware in late-March this year. The FSS, and its supervisory agency Financial Services Commission (FSC) had said they wereassessing network systems of financial institutions and will introduce measures to strengthen security in April. Last week the regulator instructed local financial firms to disclose details in the event of a security breach, including the reason it happened, as part of efforts to beef up network security. Just on Tuesday, a McAfee report said the March cyberattacks which hit banks and news agencies were part of a long term espionage campaign, dubbed "Operation Troy", aimed at stealing military and government data.

From http://www.zdnet.com 07/11/2013

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SK Telecom Recognized as World's First Provider of LTE-A Service

 

South Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom has been recognized as the world's first provider to commercialize a network that runs twice as fast as long-term evolution (LTE) technology. The Global Mobile Suppliers Association said in a report on LTE service that SK was the only provider of LTE-Advanced service among 16 mobile carriers in 12 countries. 

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 07/18/2013

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Korea’s Online Procurement Service Shared with Mongolia

 

International demand has been on the rise for Korea's online procurement system. Earlier this month on August 6, some 20 Mongolian government officials paid a seven-day visit to Korea, with delegations including Chief B. Enkhjargal of Mongolia’s Government Procurement Department and members of the Economy Ministry and procurement organization. The visitors participated in the Public Procurement Cooperation Meeting hosted by Korea's Public Procurement Service for the first time to share Korea’s procurement system experience with foreign government officials. Mongolia adopted Korea's system back in 2011, and in the following year established an organization specialized in procurement. This year's cooperation meeting has been organized upon the request of Mongolia where Korea shared information ranging from operation of online systems, purchase of goods, construction contracts, and management of products to reporting of international trends. “This year’s meeting will contribute to Mongolia’s development of human resources as well as institutional capability,” said Min Hyung-jong, administrator of the Public Procurement Service. 

From http://www.korea.net 08/19/2013

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MALAYSIA: App Offering Consumer Info Launched

 

The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism launched a smartphone application to give Malaysian residents information about consumer trends and standards. The app, called ‘myKPDNKK’, offers six services to citizens. For example, users can lodge complaints against businesses in Malaysia with the consumer’s tribunal through the app, or give positive reviews to businesses. Students can use the app to check the status of their 1Malaysia discount card (called KADS1M), or access information on courses, admission status, and examination results at the Co-operative College of Malaysia. Business people can check the status of their franchise applications, and get information on government standards for various items, such as toys, helmets, and vehicle tyres. The app also offers a ‘Pricewatch’ service to allow users to check prices of controlled items in the market. myKPDNKK is currently only available for Android-based smartphones, but versions for BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones will be available later.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/03/2013

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THAILAND: Stock Exchange Deployed Data Management Software

 

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has deployed a new software to enhance its management of unprecedented data growth. In partnership with CommVault Simpana, the software implementation is expected to manage back-up, recovery, searching and archiving of data, after the SET has experienced unprecedented data growth over the recent years. With the new software supplied by CommVault, the SET will be empowered with the effective management of new, virtualised business support applications, and more effective management of growing unstructured data content for compliance and business analysis purpose. CommVault is expected to deliver innovation in the data archiving mechanism which is compatible with virtualised and cloud infrastructures, and more effective backing-up VMware environements, said Thirapun Sanpakit, Senior Vice President Group Head of IT Operations at the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

 

The software will consolidate all management process into a single console of user interface for backup and archived data, resulting in the reducing of response time to business requests.  “The Stock Exchange of Thailand is a pivotal bourse, not only in Asean but also globally, and our goal is to constantly upgrade our service to clients,” Thirapun said. “The inclusion of CommVault’s Simpana software as part of our IT infrastructure enables the organisation to do this, enhancing the performance of the stock exchange operations and ensuring that data storage compliance regulations are met. He also added that the software will ensure that the SET can maximise opportunities for its clients and partners, allowing the use of raw data such as trading transactions and analysis of price feeds, to provide insights in terms of investment behaviour and surveillance. This will help support the SET’s business strategy. The SET is the juristic entity set up under the Securities and Exchange Commission.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/17/2013

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Thailand Launches Three Software Services on G-Cloud

 

Ministry of ICT, Electronic Government Agency (EGA), and Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) today launched three software services on G-cloud under Government Software as a Service (G-SaaS) initiative. Three software services that are now available for the public agencies to use are Saraban as a Service (e-Correspondence Management System —e-CMS), SMS as a Service, and Conference as a Service, EGA President and CEO Dr Sak Segkhoonthod said. The EGA worked closely with local software developers supervised by the SIPA to create software for the government to use under the same direction and standard to promote cross platform interconnection as well as to foster paperless operation. According to Dr Segkhoonthod, the government agencies will be able to try out these software free of charge for the first year. “If they want to continue using the system, the charge will be under Pay Per Use scheme.”

 

For the e-CMS, the EGA is open for different software developers to offer the e-CMS as long as their services comply with the standards set by the SIPA and the EGA. “The different software providers need to comply with our standards to ensure that all agencies that use their services can interoperate with one another despite using different e-CMS software,” he said. The SMS as a Service will enable agencies to send SMS via a web portal for internal and external contact. Conference as a Service is a virtual conference system to facilitate long-distant meeting. The EGA is now under piloting period for the additional of eight software systems which are expected to be introduced by the end of the year. The eight systems include, Office on Cloud, Personal Storage, Government Website as a Service, Premium Conference as a Service, SMART Interactive Voice Response, Streaming as a Service, Antivirus (Client Security for Government Information Network), and Private Instant Messaging, Dr Segkhoonthod added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/19/2013

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ICT Industry to Enjoy 33% Profit Growth This Year, Asia Plus Says

 

The information and communications technology (ICT) industry this year is expected to post 33-per-cent growth in net profit and 23-per-cent growth next year, given higher revenue amid declining operating costs, according to Asia Plus Securities. Asia Plus senior analyst Kawee Manitsupavong made the remark at a seminar yesterday. Political activism could pose a risk for the sector as it might affect consumers' purchasing power. But he believes that the government will continue moving forward with ICT projects as they are fundamental infrastructure. The risk from legal disputes between the state telecom concession owners and the private concession holders are expected to decline as these contracts approach their expiry dates. The concessions of TrueMove and Digital Phone Co under CAT Telecom will end on September 15, while Advanced Info Service's contract with TOT will expire in 2015 and that of Total Access Communication (DTAC) under CAT in 2018.

 

Adisak Sukumvitaya, chief executive officer of major handset retailer Jaymart, said the company had maintained its targets for revenue and net-profit growth of 30-40 per cent this year from net profit of Bt340 million last year. The company has yet to feel the impact from the expected economic decline in the second half and its sales have continued to grow. Petter Furberg, DTAC's chief finance officer, said the company had maintained its revenue target for this year at single-digit growth, despite a possible price war in the second half.  DTAC has adjusted its capital-expenditure budget this year to Bt14.5 billion from the previous Bt12.5 billion but the total capex budget for the next three years is maintained at Bt34 billion. The adjustment is in line with the plan to cover 50 per cent of the population with its third-generation network before the end of this year, up from the previous plan of 30 per cent. In the second quarter's guidance, it maintained high-single-digit revenue growth. Subsidiary DTAC TriNet is one of the three holders of 3G licences for the 2.1-gigahertz spectrum granted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission last December.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 08/06/2013

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VIETNAM: Government Bans Four Kinds of E-Commerce Activities in Effort to Prevent Fraud

 

The Government has specified four groups of activities banned in e-commerce under Decree 52/2013/ND-CP issued on May 16, which applies to traders and organisations and individuals engaged in e-commerce activities on Vietnamese territory. As listed in the first group, activities banned in e-commerce include operating a network for marketing e-commerce services in which each member must make an initial deposit for buying a service and receive a commission, prize or an economic benefit from recruiting a new member; taking advantage of e-commerce for trading in counterfeit goods or goods and services infringing upon intellectual property rights; and trading in goods or providing services in the list of those banned from trading or provision. The second group includes violations of regulations on information in e-commerce websites such as using false registration information or failing to comply with regulations on forms and modes of posting registration information on e-commerce websites, etc. The third group consists of violations of regulations on transactions on e-commerce websites, including deceiving customers on these websites and faking information of other traders, organisations and individuals to join e-commerce activities.

 

The last group covers stealing, using, disclosing, transferring or selling business intelligence on other traders, organisations and individuals and individual consumer information which are provided through e-commerce activities without their consents, unless otherwise provided by law. The Decree also specifies two forms of operations for e-commerce websites. An e-commercewebsite for sale is a website set up by traders, organisations and individuals for trade promotion, sale of goods or provision of services directly to their customers.  E-commerce service provision websites are those set up by traders or organisations to create an environment for other traders, organisations and individuals to conduct commercial activities, including e-commerce trading floors, online auction websites, online sales promotion websites and other websites as specified by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. This Decree will take effect on July 1, and replace Decree 57/2006/ND-CP of June 9, 2006.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 05/29/2013

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Vietnam State Telco to Deploy Cloud Computing

 

Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company — state owned telco under Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications — will deploy mobile computing platform to expand into new markets, enhancing its capabilities, and improving productivity. A collaborative agreement was signed between the VMS and IBM last week to adopt an end-to-end mobile solution via cloud computing, especially for VMS MobiFone subscribers. MobiFone is the VMS commercial brand for mobile phone services. The new platform will allow the VMS to launch new value-added services such as advertising and promotional campaign, building an effective cloud ecosystem, and providing Mobile Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, and Software as a Service to its partners and enterprise customers. “VMS is the first organisation in Vietnam to deploy an end-to-end mobile on cloud infrastructure based on IBM technology, and VMSII is privileged to be selected to pioneer this solution,” said Nguyen Bao Long, deputy director of VMSII — VMS subsidiary that will be in charge of the project with IBM.

 

This collaborative agreement is within the framework of the VMS’s five-year IT development strategy aimed at becoming the strongest and most trusted counterpart of concerned parties in IT field in Vietnam and other countries. “This strategic investment will help us sustain our leading position in telecommunication services in Vietnam. We will leverage the new mobile cloud infrastructure to streamline management of employees’ personal devices, quickly deliver value-added services and promotions to our customers and improve customer satisfaction,” he added. Apart from implementing hardware and backup infrastructure, the VMS will migrate its computing platform to the cloud, transforming its business processes. As a result of this project, the VMS will be able to foster mobile environment within the organisation as well as for management and internal activities. The VMS planned to develop mobile applications to connect its field staff across the Southern Vietnam. Founded 20 years ago, VMS is a major telecommunication provider in Vietnam under the brand of MobiFone. It currently offers mobile phone services to over 40 million subscribers. The VMS has 5.5 million 3G subscribers accounted for 43 per cent of total 3G subscriber population, making it the country’s largest 3G service provider.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/06/2013

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INDIA: TRAI Issues “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2013”

 

TRAI released the “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Twelfth Amendment) Regulations, 2013”, prescribing further measures to tighten the framework for controlling the menace of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC). TRAI has taken a series of measures in the recent past for curbing the menace of UCC. It issued “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010” on 1st December 2010, which came into force from 27th September 2011. Subsequently, for addressing the operational issues and for tightening the regulatory framework, a number of amendments have been issued to the principal regulations besides issue of a number of directions. The 2013 Regulations, has been issued to further tighten the regulatory framework, especially relating to commercial communication from subscribers indulging in telemarketing activities, deliberately masquerading themselves, without registering as a telemarketer with TRAI.

 

These subscribers indulge in such activities without paying promotional SMS charge or any other charges (or deposits) as may be payable by registered telemarketers. They also circumvent the procedures for telemarketing by registered telemarketers. Such subscribers indulge in sending unsolicited commercial communications to even customers registered in NCPR. The presently available complaint redressal system will be available to settle the grievance of the subscriber whose connection is disconnected.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/27/2013

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Government Allows 100 Percent FDI in Telecom

 

The Government of India  allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecom sector. The decision was taken at a meeting of senior Cabinet ministers with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Though FDI in telecom services will be raised to 100 per cent, only up to 49 per cent could come via the automatic route. Beyond that, permission of FIPB will have to be sought. Also decided at the meeting was that FDI cap for private insurers would be raised to 49 percent but that would need Parliament’s approval. The FDI limit for credit information firms was raised from 49 percent to 74 per cent. Besides these, the ministers eased FDI procedures for seven other sectors. But they stopped a little short of accepting all recommendations of the Arvind Mayaram committee, including those to raise FDI cap for news & media (current affairs) to 49 per cent from 26 per cent. After the meeting, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said a Cabinet note on Tuesday’s recommendations would soon be prepared.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/17/2013

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EPFO Starts Registration of Digital Signature of Employers

 

Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has started registering digital signatures of employers, a prerequisite for providing the facility of online transfers of PF accounts on changing jobs. EPFO has directed its over 120 field offices to depute a nodal officer to facilitate the registration of digital signatures of firms. The facility of uploading digital signatures will be available on the Online Transfer Claim Portal through the EPFO Web site, www.epfindia.gov.in. According to EPFO, the success of online transfer of PF accounts would depend on how many employers register their digital signatures, which are essential to authenticate transfer claims. EPFO is likely to start the online PF transfer claim facility by the end of next month. With this, EPF subscribers would be able to apply online to transfer their accounts through their new employers. The revised transfer claim form can be presented after verification by the present employer or the previous employer. Previously, the form could be submitted only after verification by the present employer. EPFO has set up a central clearance house to enable subscribers to apply online for PF withdrawal and transfer claim settlements. EPFO expects 1.2 crore claims in 2013-14, including around 13 lakh PF transfer claims. It plans online settlement of about 10 lakh transfer claims of tech-savy applicants from industries such as IT this fiscal.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/29/2013

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Vodafone and ICICI Launches M-PESA Money Transfer in Bihar and Jharkhand

 

Vodafone India in association with ICICI bank has started the unique money transfer and payment service “M-Pesa” in Bihar and Jharkhand where banking network and financial penetration is in rural areas. M-Pesa’ service launched in December last year is available across 32 districts and 250 tehsils in Bihar at present. The innovative use of mobile technology makes it possible for customers to enjoy a fast, simple and secure way to transfer money and make payments. Using their M-Pesa account, customers can at their convenience avail facilities of deposit and withdraw cash from designated outlets, transfer money to any mobile phone in the country, make payment to recharge mobile, clear utility bills and for DTH service subscription and shop at select shops among others. The service is available across Bihar through over 2800 specially trained authorised agents.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 08/07/2013

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Online Payment to JSY Beneficiary’s Account

 

Online JSY payments directly into the beneficiary’s bank account has been rolled out in 43  pilot districts w.e.f. 1.1.2013 and in 78 additional districts from 1.7.2013. List of 121 districts where online JSY payments has been rolled-out during Phase-I and Phase-II is at Annexure-1. No time frame has been fixed. Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) has been introduced by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in December 2009 and has already been rolled-out in all the States/UTs. During 2013-14, more than 5.7 million pregnant women and 3.4 million children have been registered on MCTS portal (status as on 31.07.2013). State/UT-wise number of mothers and children registered on MCTS portal is at Annexure-2.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 08/21/2013

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SRI LANKA: Telecom Licensed to Operate Fibre-Optic Backbone

 

Sri Lanka Telecom, the island's sole wireline operator which also has mobile and video services, said it had been formally licensed to operate a national backbone with its fibre-optic network. Other operators are also given access to the National Backbone Network (NBN) "SLT’s network is ready with the necessary flexibility, capacity and capability to respond to the demands of customers, including supporting the additional demands of other telecommunication service providers in line with the government’s vision," group chief executive Lalith De Silva said in a statement. "Our comprehensive fibre rollout provides the basis for the NBN to provide coverage, capacity and capability that allows for the increased demand." SLT said its fibre optic transmission network now covers most parts of the island, including rural areas and the North and the East which emerged from a war only in 2009 allowing broadband penetration to the far corners of the island. SLT said it planned to cover all the 329 divisional secretariats and 24 districts in the country with high speed broadband connectivity over the NBN, within the next five years. "We have worked closely with SLT for the implementation of the NBN in order to fulfil the national objective of facilitating high speed broadband over the NBN," director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka, Anusha Pelpita was quoted as saying in the statement after handing over the backbone license to the firm. SLT has revenues of over 56 billion rupees a year and 49.5 percent state-owned. Telecommunication Holdings N.V. of Netherlands, a unit of Malaysia's UT group owns a 44.98 percent stake.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com 06/04/2013

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Sri Lanka E-Commerce to Grow Exponentially If Paypal Liberalized IT Industry

 

June 10, 2013 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's small and medium enterprises could use e-commerce "to grow exponentially," software and outsourcing chamber official said welcoming plans by authorities to liberalize Paypal inward payments. Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said last month, that the regulator was "seriously" looking at liberalizing Paypal inward remittances, which had been blocked in Sri Lanka. Lack of Paypal inward remittance facilities had been holding back thousands of Sri Lankan freelancers from participating in outsourced work and kept the island out of a global 'crowd-souring' wave where work is distributed and start ups raise funds. "We welcome the statement by Governor Cabraal on steps to liberalize inward payments through Paypal," Imran Furkhan, director general of the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM), told LBO in a emailed response. "E-commerce with its low investment in brick and mortar type infrastructure represents a unique opportunity for our SME sector to grow exponentially with little investment and leveraging on existing internet architecture and physical delivery systems.

 

"E-commerce provides an opportunity for even a small Sri Lankan company to tap global consumers with a compelling product/service proposition. "One of the key obstacles to e commerce based in Sri Lanka taking off has been the bar on receiving inward remittances via Paypal, a respected, cost-effective global remittance and payments system to the merchant's bank account in Sri Lanka." Many software developers and small time freelancers who had not been able to do outsourcing work due to lack of Paypal also heaped praise on Governor Cabraal responding to a story published on LBO "Great stuff Chief hope to see it up and running soon," wrote one reader. "This is great news for the people who work on foreign websites like fiverr, odesk, freelancer," said another reader, also warning about possible scam sites. Tourists also increasingly use Paypal instead of credit cards. The lack of Paypal inpayments had been a problem for small inbound star-ups. "Very good for Sri Lankan people who does e-Commerce business, specially travel trade," wrote Ruwan, another reader.

 

Furkhan said Sri Lankan start-up could also raise venture capital through crowd-sourcing if Paypal is liberalized. "For example since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter one of the most popular crowd-sourcing sites has seen more than 4.2 million people pledge over $643 million, funding more than 42,000 creative projects,while letting those with the project idea keep 100% of ownership with them if they wished and also providing valuable peer endorsement," he said. "These projects then get the attention of large and more established institutional funders. "The SME Sector is the backbone of the economic development of any country and such initiatives by the CBSL is crucial to developing the country in a sustainable manner. "Hence its now up to the officials at the CBSL to implement the laudable initiative of their Governor."

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com 06/10/2013

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Special Mobile Service to Issue Ids in Northern Province

 

The government collaborating with election monitoring groups will hold a special mobile service to issue identification documents to voters in the Northern province. The mobile service will issue National Identity Cards, Birth Certificates and other identification documents to civilians who don't possess them. The special mobile service will commence in Kilinochchi today (09) and continue until July 11. It will be held in Sankadapuram Shopping Complex on July 9, at the Karachchi Divisional Secretariat on July 10 and at the Vaddakatchchi Divisional Secretariat on July 11. The service is jointly organized by the Department of Registration of Persons, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and the Centre for Human Rights and Research.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 07/09/2013

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Govt to Conduct Census of Businesses and Services

 

The Department of Census and Statistics has planned to conduct an economic census to cover the business and service sectors for the year 2013/2014. The Department will conduct an economic census as national censuses do not cover the business and service sectors. Business and Service sectors play a leading role in the national economy at present. The 14th national census of population and housing was carried out last year. According to the normal procedure agricultural and industrial census will be conducted on the next two years. However, these censuses do not cover the business and service sectors. The economic census will be carried out in four stages. At the first stage all estates in the island will be listed at the Grama Seva Divisional level. The Department of Census and Statistics has requested the estate owners and superintendents to provide relevant details to the grama niladharies in this regard.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 07/11/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: E-Commerce Market Exceeds $1.1 Mln This Year

 

The electronic commerce market amounted to 901,100 manats (over $1.14 million) in Azerbaijan in January-May 2013, the State Statistics Committee reported on June 12.  Some 93.6 percent of the total volume sold in the five-month period fell to foodstuffs.  Total retail sales in Azerbaijan increased 1.8 times compared to the same period of last year.  The retail sales amounted to 7.5 billion manats. Compared to the same period of 2012, the sale of consumer goods rose by 8.8 percent.  E-commerce growth is closely linked to information and communication technologies development.  2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan and to develop the domestic ICT sector, the ICT University was established under a presidential order in February.  Online payments in Azerbaijan became possible in early 2009. Five to six years are needed for online sales to develop fully in the country.  Currently, Azerbaijan is at the first phase of e-commerce implementation, with some products and services available online. In the future, the e-commerce sector will increase with online ticket and food ordering.  When consumers start ordering online products and service online, sellers will expand their offerings and improve the existing services, which will lead to a sizeable percentage of e-commerce volume in the country's economy.  E-commerce is an industry which concerns buying and selling of product or services online. The participants of e-commerce are legal entities and individuals engaged in e-commerce and buying goods and services.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 06/13/2013

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Azerbaijan’s Online Market Quadruples over Five Years

 

Azerbaijan's online market has quadrupled, with IT production tripling over the past five years, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies said.  According to the ministry, compared to 2008, the share of mobile sector dropped to 59.5% from 67.5%, while the share of the internet rose to 6.6% from 1.4% and the production share of information technologies increased to 2.7% from 1.4%.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 06/28/2013

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Azerbaijani Company Starts Digital Signature Issuance

 

The Goldenpay Company will soon begin to issue electronic digital signatures to the population, the company told Trend .In order to broaden the range of e-signature users, the company plans to provide additional benefits for the recipients, as well as to expand the e-service list as to where they can be used.The company plans to offer e-signature owners such services as ordering a credit without visiting the bank and remote opening of bank accounts.In addition, the users will be able to carry out the loading of SMART cards for water and gas.Currently, the number of certificates of electronic digital signatures issued by the Information and Computer Centre of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan stands at 15 million. The vast majority of issued electronic digital signatures accounts for government agencies.The main advantage of the digital signature is a complete transfer of business relations and communications to electronic format. An electronic signature is a certain sequence of symbols received through the transformation of the source document by special software.During the forwarding of the addition of a digital signature to the original document, the result of what the authorship and invariability of the information contained in the document is confirmed. In case of making any changes to the original document the electronic signature becomes invalid.Getting a digital signature allows someone to be confident in the authorship and content of the documents exchanged by an organisation on the Internet. Falsification of the electronic signature is impossible.Both the document signed with a digital signature and one signed by hand are recognised as equivalent.The cost of e-signatures granted to the public for one year is 14 manats, 22 manats for two years, and 30 manats for three years.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 07/04/2013

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Azerbaijan to Fight Tax Evasion in E-Commerce

 

The strategy of the taxation system development in 2013-2020 adopted by Azerbaijan's Ministry of Taxes provides for development of control measures in e-commerce, an article published in Vergiler (Taxes) newspaper on June 10 says.For this purpose it is envisioned to improve mechanisms of investigating tax evasion in e-commerce, create the "Electronic criminal case" concept, study economic reports about Azerbaijan released by international organizations, as well as develop relevant educational procedures in the tax authorities.Moreover, the strategy includes measures to regulate transfer prices, to promote non-cash payments and to improve the electronic audit system, as well as to minimize tax-related risks.

 

The activities outlined in the strategy will be financed with funds allocated by the Ministry of Taxes from the state budget, extra-budgetary funds and other sources.The electronic commerce market amounted to 901,100 manats (over $1.14 million) in Azerbaijan in January-May 2013, the State Statistics Committee said in June. 93.6 percent of the total volume of goods sold in the five-month period fell to foodstuffs.E-commerce growth is closely linked to information and communication technologies development. 2013 was declared the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan.Online payments became possible in Azerbaijan in early 2009. Five to six years are needed for online sales to develop fully in the country.Currently, Azerbaijan is at the first phase of e-commerce implementation, with some products and services available online. In the future, the e-commerce sector will increase with online ticket and food ordering.When consumers start ordering online products and services online, sellers will expand their offerings and improve the existing services, which will lead to a sizeable percentage of e-commerce volume in the country's economy.E-commerce is an industry which concerns buying and selling of products or services online. The participants of e-commerce are legal entities and individuals engaged in e-commerce and buying goods and services.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 07/12/2013

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Azerbaijan Gets Rise in E-Trade

 

Azerbaijan’s information and communication enterprises have provided AZN 707.1 mln communication service t