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‘Mailbox politics’ a future offence

Griffith lays down new cyber law
Saturday, June 14, 2014
St Joseph MP Terrance Deyalsingh and Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Stacy Roopnarine, speak on their cell phones during the lunch break at yesterday’s sitting of Parliament. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Certain aspects of Government’s proposed cyber-crime legislation will outlaw “mailbox politics”, where people claim to mysteriously get e-mail information in their mailboxes, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday. 



Piloting the 47-clause bill in Parliament, he said, “Cyber security is of the utmost importance to everyone due to growing use of technology. In light of increasing sophistication of cyber crimes, this bill is necessary to protect citizens and our cyberspace. We’re no longer bound by only land, sea and air, we now have a cyberspace to defend. Cyber crime has no borders. “I do hope both sides of the House recognise the importance of this bill—it’s going to be a game changer.”



The bill, which requires a special majority vote for passage, will repeal the Computer Misuse Act. Provisions in it also seek to outlaw cyberbullying and unauthorised transmission of genital photos and junk e-mail. Offences under the bill carry large fines, from $100,000 to $2 million, plus jail terms of between two and 15 years. Conditions in the bill apply to desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and any device which can process information or electronic data. 


It creates offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and computer systems, content-related offences, copyright-related offence and computer-related offences. Griffith also piloted legislation for a T&T Cyber Security Agency to supervise the sector. In T&T, he said online banking, financial networks, government services, utility systems and energy sector infrastructure are among susceptible areas 


“T&T Police Cyber Crimes Unit witnessed an increase in a number of cyber-incidents, including online bullying, attempted domain hijacking and Web site hacking and defacement, including the April 2012 hacking into the Finance Ministry and Parliament Web sites and the July 2012 Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) skimming scams,” he said.



What the agency will do

The proposed T&T Cyber Security Agency would provide advice on cyber security-related matters, including situational awareness information, to the National Security Minister and police in addressing cyber security issues, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday. He said the security firm Symantec’s 2013 Norton Report said the global price tag of consumer cyber crime was estimated at US$113 billion annually. The  survey, done in 24 countries, said there were 378 million victims of cyber crime per year. 


The TTCSA will also facilitate information sharing among stakeholders, establish guidelines and standards for various sectors and advise of emerging threats and ways to protect critical infrastructures. He noted infrastructure in sectors from health to energy which could be affected. 



“For example, should a request come through the Central Authority for mutual legal assistance regarding a cyber crime in Europe, the Central Authority can contact the TTCSA, who will then channel the information to the appropriate agency in real time,” he explained. 



The TTCSA will develop a national cyber security contingency plan, co-ordinate cyber security exercises and do research and development. It will have a national computer incident response team to respond to cyber-attacks and provide incident response and management services along with alerts and warnings on the latest cyber threats and vulnerabilities. A research and development unit will research new threats and find solutions before major breaches can occur.  


The TTCSA will be managed by a board, he said. 


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