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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11 May 2018 |
The Caribbean Digital Finance and Free Trade System, CariNet, has been officially launched, applying blockchain technology to help the member countries of the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) build digital payments and digital financial infrastructures in order to create a platform for international trade. To meet the security demands of digital payments and financial systems, the CariNet Main Net plans to introduce national nodes to supervise the whole blockchain network in order for it to develop in a credible and orderly direction. The operation of the CariNet Main Net is supported from the nodes. The 15 Caribbean FTA member countries will establish a data node respectively. The establishment of CariNet is expected to bring new developments to the declining financial industry in the Caribbean by transforming the traditional tax-avoidance offshore finance, into blockchain digital finance.
8 May 2018 |
Financial institutions in Caribbean territories under the jurisdiction of the European Union are gearing up to implement the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)by 25 May, when the regulation becomes effective.Under the GDPR, individuals have the right to access and review their personal data and ask the company collecting the information for changes, also having the right to move the data collected to another entity.The regulations will go into effect in the Caribbean’s Dutch, French and British territories, all of which fall under EU jurisdiction.Caribbean financial leaders met to discuss GDPR compliance in Suriname at an eventinitiated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
3 May 2018 |
Incarib, the only directory of Caribbean infrastructure suppliers, was launched in CHARLOTTE AMALIE, US Virgin Islands on 3 May, serving as a resource bridging the gap between private sector suppliers and government, utility and regional development agencies. Ms Lauren Thomas, Directory's Developer and Owner, said ‘Globally, the conversation has turned toward building sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure. For Caribbeancountries, it's at the top of the agenda. However, decision makers aren't always aware of state-of-the-art solutions and technologies and they don't have immediate access to the expertise. On the other hand, companies that do business or want to do business in the region in this space often find it difficult to get in front of the decision makers. InCarib bridges the gap.’InCarib.netis hoping that every company that is dedicated to enabling, sustaining, and improving Caribbean living conditions will register to get listed by visiting the website and completing the application. The site is live while the directory is being populated and will be fully operational by August 2018.
13 Apr 2018 |
Caribbean governments and regional public and private sector organisations are exploring the opportunities offered by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, to support economic growth in the region. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is the latest regional institution to embrace cryptocurrency, announcing a pact with blockchain technology company Bitt Inc. The agreement is designed to facilitate ‘the implementation of more efficient payment processes for tourism-related products and services,’ said CTO officials in a statement.
The group announced a memorandum of understanding under which Bitt’s digital wallet and merchant applications ‘will be promoted to help foster broader economic participation in community-based tourism and related sectors.’
‘The Caribbean aims to fully examine the advantages offered by new financial technology,” said Mr Hugh Riley (CTO Secretary-General). ‘In particular, blockchain financial services have the potential to advance the objectives of specific programs and activities within the tourism sector.’
5 Apr 2018 |
A new initiative to make Caribbean Internet infrastructure less vulnerable to the impact of climate change and natural disasters is gaining momentum across the region, and significant attention has been paid over the past few months to the issue of strengthening the resilience of Caribbean networks and to the development of greater technical capacity in the region.
Recent talks were held in Puerto Rico over a more collaborative approach to Caribbean communications network resilience. The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) formed a Commission on Caribbean Communications Resilience (CCCR) to identify actionable recommendations.
In the lead up to the 2018 hurricane season, CCCR commissioners met with representatives of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The meeting was designed to explore opportunities for engagement and collaboration as the region seeks pathways to increase the resilience of regional communications infrastructure during recurrent extreme natural phenomena. Both organisations shared some of the lessons learned from the historic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and focused on identifying practical recommendations so that the region’s response can be triggered in a more proactive and meaningful way.
The commission is expected to share a draft report soon, with recommendations for Caribbean governments, regulators, and communications ministries to strengthen regional communication network resilience and improve policy, infrastructure, regulation, technologies, and systems.
2 Apr 2018 |
The government of Antigua and Barbuda has finalised its decision to launch their cryptocurrency exchange. Government officials at St. John’s believe that this move will make significant contributions to the nation’s treasury and place the country ‘“on the forefront of the new system of creating wealth’. The local parliament is set to review and adopt the relevant legal framework.
Mr Melford Nicholas (Minister of Information Technology) said, ‘This proposed exchange will simplify cryptocurrency trading for a fee by bringing both the buyers as well as sellers, together. The government has expectations that the trading platform will contribute to the non-tax revenue for the budget of the island nation. By launching an exchange here, we will bring Antigua into the game, as it were, given that any potential economic spinoffs arise, we should be in the front seat.’
15 Mar 2018 |
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.
15 Mar 2018 |
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.
13 Mar 2018 |
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.
19 Feb 2017 |
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.
19 Feb 2018 |
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.
5 Feb 2018 |
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.’
26 Jan 2018 |
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.
25 Jan 2018 |
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.
16 Jan 2018 |
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.