December 8th, 2014
Commonwealth parliamentarians from the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic regions explore new ways of leveraging ICTs
PORT OF SPAIN, 5 DECEMBER 2014 – At a joint two-day workshop held in Port of Spain, parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries and territories of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic regions examined their role in developing ICTs and the ways in which technology could help parliamentarians link with their constituents.
Organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), the workshop was hosted by the Parliament of Trinidad & Tobago.
Attended by parliamentarians of Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis Island, St Lucia, Turks & Caicos Islands and Trinidad & Tobago, the two-day workshop examined how to legislate effectively on ICTs and how to use ICTs for the parliamentary process.
Views from various stakeholders were presented to the delegates, including the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad & Tobago, Columbus Communications, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, ICANN, CANTO, Microsoft, and Digicel.
Delegates considered these inputs in the context of the experiences of their peers and identified the following key points to be considered when developing legislation to govern ICTs:
- Legislation should take into account the interests and priorities of all stakeholder groups so that the ICT sector is equally rewarding for all the stakeholders.
- Legislation needs to develop dynamically to reflect technological developments.
- Legislation should not be too granular in order to remain relevant in the fast developing technological landscape, utilising subsidiary legislation and regulation to address specific issues.
- Legislation must be developed to effectively protect citizens against online criminal activity such as cyber bullying and the exploitation of children.
- ICTs facilitate closer communication with constituents and have the ability to reach a wider stakeholder group, in an environmentally friendly manner.
- ICTs enable parliamentarians to keep up with the times and be relevant to the modern generation.
- ICTs improve transparency and facilitate greater participation of the electorate.
- It is important to verify the information before sharing it online as information once placed in the public domain, cannot be recalled.
- When using ICTs it is important to create clear boundaries between information to be disseminated and not be disseminated.
- ICT channels are open to abuse, and this calls for strong mechanisms for both data security and physical security.
- ICTs could help parliamentarians process a vast amount of data in many intricate forms including the demographics and voter profiles using data analytics as a tool, but strong data protection mechanisms are imperative.
- Adopting ICTs requires parliamentarians to keep up with the speed of communications of their interlocutors and to tackle many complexities in issues, which may become a heavy demand on their time.
Delegates decided upon the following as key points to consider when parliamentarians are using ICTs:
Delegates mandated that the CPA and the CTO should work closely with Commonwealth parliamentarians of the Caribbean, Atlantic and Americas regions with a view to assist with the implementation of the agreed measures over the next two years.