What were the main digital policy regional updates in the Caribbean? This space brings you the main updates month by month, summarised by the observatory's curators.
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Curated by Wanda M. Pérez Peña
ECCB to embark on blockchain pilot initiative with Bitt Inc.
15 March 2018 | E-Money and virtual currencies
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintech company, Bitt Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct a fintech pilot on blockchain technology in the ECCB member countries. The MOU was signed in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis on March 13. This pilot aims to develop a secure, resilient digital payment and settlement platform with embedded regional and global compliance; and the issuance of a digital Eastern Caribbean currency which will operate alongside the physical Eastern Caribbean currency. Both entities will work closely to develop, deploy and test technology which will help improve the risk profile of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and mitigate against the trend of de-risking by the region's correspondent banking partners.
CTU continues 21st Century Government thrust in St Vincent and the Grenadines
15 March 2018 | Development – other
A workshop in St Vincent and the Grenadines was held in March 2018, to present a policy framework and guidelines for implementation of 21st Century Government, an initiative launched by the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) and other strategic partners in January 2018. Ms Bernadette Lewis, CTU secretary-general, stated that ‘The CTU, Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD) and other strategic partners are ready and able to work with each government to facilitate this work...’. The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, in collaboration with the CTU, hosted ICT Week – St Vincent and the Grenadines from 19 to 23 March 2018. The week has as its theme 21st Century Government, building on the foundation laid in Antigua and Barbuda. During this week, five different fora were held.
An intra-regional IPv4 transfer service was launched by LACNIC
13 March 2018 | Internet protocol (IP) numbers
The Internet Addresses Registry for Latin America and Caribbean,(LACNIC) launched an intra-regional IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) transfer service, aiming to provide the community with relevant information that will simplify IPv4 transfers. This service is available at the MI LACNIC portal, and provides: a list of organisations willing to transfer IPv4 blocks (Offering Organisations), a list of organisations wishing to receive IPv4 blocks (Receiving Organisations), and a list of organisations willing to serve as facilitators between Offering and Receiving organisations. Prior to accessing this service, it is necessary to apply as an offering, receiving, or facilitator organisation at the LACNIC portal.
Curated by André Edwards
A Virtual DNS Entrepreneurship Centre for the Caribbean (VDECC) was launched with the aim to contribute to building the capacity for Caribbean digital entrepreneurs. VDECC’s objective is to serve as a knowledge and networking resource on digital business opportunities tailored to the Caribbean region. The centre will make use of online tools to engage digital industry leaders, and will identify knowledge topics following consultations with the regional community. The initiative was launched in Port of Spain on February 19, by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Latin American and Caribbean Country Code Top-Level Domain Association (LACTLD), CANTO, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, and the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG). Upcoming events are being planned for Belize, Guyana and Jamaica later this year.
ARIN initiative to strengthen regional computer networks [Capacity Building]
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) agreed to extend their collaboration to improve the resilience of the Internet infrastructure and strengthen related technical capacity in the OECS.
The two parties are to collaborate in identifying and engaging key national Internet stakeholders, while creating appropriate communication interfaces to support enhanced collaboration and information-sharing. They will also work together in overcoming the barriers to the alignment of national programmes with OECS-wide initiatives for Internet development, and share knowledge, experience and best practices on Internet strengthening initiatives, while supporting national Internet strategies.
The agreement is expected to actively contribute to capacity-building initiatives, research programmes, and other national strategies. ARIN has committed to sharing technical insights in support of the strategic direction of OECS Commission initiatives and programmes related to Internet numbering, network autonomy, and IPv6 deployment.
The collaboration kicked off with a series of ARIN In The Caribbean training workshops targeting network operators and computer engineers in the OECS. Workshops are scheduled for Grenada, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica over the next three months.
Trinidadian High Court Judge makes landmark judgement in social media libel case
5 February 2018 | Freedom of expression
In Trinidad and Tobago, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad delivered an 18-page judgment in a landmark case, brought by a couple falsely accused by their neighbour of sexually abusing their children in a series of Facebook posts. As no local laws address matters like these, Justice Seepersad considered social media cases in Commonwealth jurisdictions to develop a local position on the issue.
The law recognises that a libel is occasioned when a defamatory statement is made by way of written or printed words, or in some other permanent form which relates to the claimant and which has been communicated to a person other than the claimant.
The judge found that social media users, too, are subject to libel laws. People are free to say what they like, but the line is drawn when what they say can cause harm and cannot be justified. The judge concluded that ‘the Claimants have, on a balance of probabilities, established that the Defendant published words about them which were defamatory and their claim in libel hereby succeeds. Accordingly, the Defendant is to pay to the Claimants damages and costs which shall be assessed by a Master in Chambers.’
Curated by Wanda M. Pérez Peña
Better inter-island communication system to be developed
26 January 2018 | Telecommunications infrastructure
British Virgin Islands (BVI) Communications Minister, Mark Vanterpool, spoke on January 25 at Virgin Gorda, during a public consultation about a specialised communications system that BVI is working to implement, pursuing to maintain contact between the four main islands in the event that traditional telecommunications network go down. This initiative was motivated by the situation lived during the September 2017 hurricanes, which left the sister islands virtually disconnected from the main island of Tortola.
St Lucia government starts an island-wide free Internet project
25 January 2018 | Telecommunications infrastructure
A USD$4 million project based on a partnership between the governments of St Lucia and Taiwan began in St Lucia. The project aims at providing free Internet access across the island. To launch the beginning of the installation phase of the Government Island-Wide Network (GINet) Project, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said: 'The project will help develop a wireless local area network (WLAN) in public areas in order to provide residents, visitors and persons conducting business with free and/or low-cost internet access’. The installation phase of the GINet backbone and WiFi access points is running, expecting to conclude within three months.
Caribbean 21st Century Government programme, first steps
16–18 January 2018 | Development - other
The 21st Century Government, a programme which aims to transform public service in the Caribbean, celebrated its first two activities, a summit and symposium in Antigua and Barbuda. The events were organised by the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), in collaboration with the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD). The programme aims for governments to deliver services to its citizens and local and international clients, in a transparent, open, interactive and efficient manner. Bernadette Lewis, CTU Secretary General, presented the role of the CTU in this programme and the next steps.
Curated by Andre Edwards
Government of Anguilla announces blockchain token offering registration process
13 November 2017 | E-money and virtual currencies
The Government of Anguilla has announced its plan to enact a cryptocurrency regulatory regime for the registration of initial offerings of specified categories of cryptocurrency. The Anguilla Utility Token Offering Act (or AUTO Act) will facilitate the registration of clearly defined ‘utility tokens’ that do not have the features of a security, and that have one or more ‘utility’ features within the issuer’s current or proposed blockchain platform. The Government of Anguilla believes the law is needed to provide clear guidance on initial coin offerings for both issuers of these new cryptocurrencies and the purchasing public.
Curated by Wanda M. Pérez Peña
Agreement between CANTO and CARILEC to support sustainable energy and ICT goals of the Caribbean
26 October 2017 | Capacity development
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations (CANTO) and the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) explores and implements initiatives focused on areas of common interest and priorities in the energy and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors. Secretary General of CANTO, Ms Teresa Wankin welcomed the benefits of the MoU, while the Executive Director of CARILEC, Dr Cletus Bertin added: ‘Increasingly, mission critical, as well as operational systems in the Energy sector, utilize ICT’.
Alphabet launches Internet balloons in Puerto Rico
Google's parent Alphabet Inc partnered with AT&T to advance the Project Loon initiative in Puerto Rico, to provide Internet access to remote areas affected by Hurricane Maria. The initiative involves the use of high-altitude helium balloons, flying at more than 60,000 feet (18,000 metres) above land and navigating using an algorithm that allows them to deliver signal by rising and falling to ride wind currents. Alphabet is using machine learning powered algorithms to keep the balloons clustered over Puerto Rico. AT&T has deployed over 14 temporary cell sites and more than 60% of Puerto Rico and 90% of the US Virgin Islands have been reconnected.
Launch of Haiti Open Data Internet platform
21 October 2017 | Economic – other issues
The ‘Haiti Open Data’ Internet platform was launched in Port-au-Prince, with the participation of the President of Haiti, H.E. Mr Jovenel Moïse, the General Director of the Center for Investment Facilitation, Ms Tessa Jacques, the representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Mr Koldo Echebarria, and representatives from related sectors. The Haiti Open Data platform was developed with the support of the IDB, and in partnership with many local and international institutions. It provides data to establish an investment plan in Haiti.
Mobile apps to help law enforcement agencies in Jamaica
20 October | Development - other
The Jamaican Government is developing three mobile applications to support police personnel in carrying out their duties more effectively. The Jamaica Eye will link the almost 300 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras owned by the National Security Ministry as well as privately-owned CCTV cameras. Jampulse Stats will contribute to more accurate data gathering, by overlaying police statistics on a geographic information system (GIS) map of Jamaica. The E-policing app will enable police officers to log in for their shift from a smartphone, thus making information available on the deployment of personnel at a given moment.
Caribbean technology development advanced by Internet Week Guyana
9–13 October 2017 | Capacity development
The Guyana Ministry of Public Telecommunications hosted the Internet Week Guyana, which was jointly organised by the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the Internet Society, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). The week long tech conference included capacity development sessions focused on issues such as the Internet governance ecosystem, cybersecurity concerns facing the region, the operations of the Regional Internet Registries and ended with a Youth ICT Day designed to highlight the tangible dangers of unsafe online behaviour.
CARICOM launched online platforms to promote regional trade/business
1 October 2017 | Economic – other issues
The Caribbean Community’s development of a Single Market and Economy (CSME) improved with the launch of four new online platforms aimed at the promotion of trade and facilitation of doing business. With support from the European Union, the CARICOM Secretariat launched the following platforms at a ceremony in Barbados, on Monday 25th September: CARICOM Online Companies Registries, Labour Market Information System, Community Public Procurement Notice Board, and CARREX Platform and Online Public Portal.
Curated by Andre Edwards
New technologies used for land monitoring system
Smartphone technology, drones, and community digital maps are being used in a new monitoring system to safeguard forests, wetlands, and way of life, by the Wapichan People of Guyana. Community information is collected using a grassroots land use monitoring arrangement. A locally owned and managed website captures the monitoring information on the Internet.
Telecom operators offer assistance post-Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the Caribbean. In a bid to assist those affected, telecom operators pulled together their resources. Cable and Wireless (C&W) extended free credits to its customers for voice calls, SMS, and social media to allow them to connect with families without concern over charges. Digicel mobilised over 200 engineers and technicians for restoration work and equipped Red Cross personnel with handsets to aid relief efforts. A Restoration Hub was established in Antigua, where technicians from Cable and Wireless worked with teams across the region to bring all services on the affected islands back online.
First of 18 ICT Hubs launched in Georgetown, Guyana
In an effort to bridge the digital divide, Guyana's Ministry of Public Telecommunications has launched the first of 18 planned ICT hubs, in Agricola, Greater Georgetown, providing free Internet access to residents and access to online government services. The hub is equipped with 10 computers and is a much-needed development for secondary school students, which will be instrumental for conducting research and completing their school assignments. A total of 400 hubs are expected to be up and running all across the country by 2020.