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Fresh Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill tackles Internet fraud

…  Revised Bill criminalises cybercrimes …

posted 5 Aug… A new Bill designed to give powers to the State Security, Defence, Police and Telecommunications Ministers to intervene in many aspects of South Africa’s key economic, financial and labour environments and zeroing in on cybercrimes and related offences, is in debate.  It also calls upon the financial sector to assist in tracking down fraudsters.

Offences include the circulation of messages that aim at economic harm to persons or entities; that contain pornography or could cause mental or psychological stress; the Bill calls upon the private financial and communications sector and, more specifically, electronic service providers to assist with its objectives. The Bill will also change much in the way how government and SOEs go about their business to reflect the current call for electronic security.

The revised Bill is re-write of that originally tabled in 2015 and rejected as too convoluted and wide ranging on issues that could cause unintended consequences.

Badly needed

Despite placing considerable onus upon the private sector to assist, the IT industry seems to be guardedly welcoming the debate which is about to commence. The original and rejected Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill was tabled in Parliament last February.

The main comment circulating seems to be that this later version is more specific than its earlier counterpart, provides more clarity and has less weight placed upon tedious operational management factors in state structures designed to fight cybercrime.

The Bill is the product of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (DoJ) and from what has been said, Deputy Minister John Jeffreys seems to be the state official still running with the legislation. He said at a media briefing some months ago, “This Bill will give the State the tools to halt cybercrimes and trained teams to bring to book those who use data as a tool for their crime.”

Not meant

Originally, when the Bill was tabled in 2015 it caused a storm of controversy. Whilst its objectives to catch criminals and stop the growing invasion institutional attacks were understood, unintended consequences for the media were not foreseen. The new Bill acknowledges that journalists and whistle-blowers have protection under the Protected Disclosures Act.

However, the somewhat draconian powers of seizure of data granted to the authorities will still no doubt worry many service providers insofar as interlocking the proposals into the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) are concerned, it has been suggested in hearings.

However, the Minister and other ministerial portfolios concerned, appear to have weighted their decision upon the growing threat of international cybercrime and have continued to call for service providers to assist with the issue caused by a late start.

SA under limelight

Some IT forensic reports indicate that sub-Saharan Africa has the third highest exposure to incidents of cyber fraud in the world and according to those who published this fact, they also claim that incidences of cybercrimes and cybersecurity breaches are escalating globally at 64%, with more security incidents reported in 2015 than 2014 for South Africa.

South Africa is known to be a specific target for cybercrime involving unlawful acquisition of sensitive data relating to clients and/or business operations due to a very high reliance on internet connections by commerce. Large data storage packages proliferate in SA, it is suggested, ranging from the JSE to the banking sector.

ATMs, bank transfers

In the case again of South Africa as part of sub-Sahara Africa, wire transfer fraud accounts for 26 percent of cybercrimes, far ahead of the global average of 14 percent, South Africans being defrauded of more than R2.2bn each year it is estimated.

Banking and financial institutions in South Africa, it is noted in the preamble to the Bill, are particularly exposed, the Reserve Bank having stated back in 2016, “It would be remiss of us in our duty if we ignored the growing risks emerging from the financial services sector’s increasing reliance on cyberspace and the Internet.”

Definitions

The Bill now before Parliament criminalises unlawful and intentional conduct regarding data, data messages, computer systems and programs, networks and passwords and creates as crimes “cyber fraud, cyber forgery and cyber uttering”.

It criminalises malicious communications – namely messages that result in harm to person or property, such as revenge porn or cyber bullying. The police are given extensive investigation, search and seizure powers in the Bill and an array of penalties, including fines and imprisonment apply, including various prescribed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977.

No FICA-type warrants.

It is notable that cyber-crime powers of search and arrest remain with SAPS and not any specific structure or system set up by the new Bill to monitor instances of cybercrime or detect suspicious data attacks.

There remain, however, quite onerous obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions, not only to assist in investigations of cybercrimes but also to report instances of cybercrime. A “framework of mutual co-operation between foreign states” is established in respect international investigation and the prosecution of cybercrime.

Crime fighting structures

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill also establishes a Computer Security Incident Response Team, as did its predecessor, to establish contact with the private sector alongside with the already functional Cyber Security Hub responsible to the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Service.

Finally, on structures, the Minister of Defence is to establish and operate a Cyber Command and appoint a General Officer Commanding.

The Bill also provides for the declaration of what is termed as “critical information infrastructure possessed” by financial institutions – for example databases upon which an attack could possibly represent a national threat.    Debate will no doubt flow around who and who not should report and upon what exactly.

The crimes defined

For the technically minded, the Bill In terms of the Bill, the following activities are criminalised: unlawful securing of access to data, a computer programme, a computer data storage medium or a computer system; unlawful acquisition of data; unlawful acts in respect of software or hardware tools; unlawful interference with data or a computer programme; unlawful interference with a computer data storage medium or computer system; unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of password, access codes or similar data or devices.

Also included are cyber fraud; cyber forgery and uttering; cyber extortion and certain aggravating offences; attempting, conspiring, aiding, abetting, inducing, inciting, instigating, instructing, commanding or procuring to commit an offence; theft of incorporeal properties; unlawful broadcast or distribution of data messages which incites damage to property or violence; unlawful broadcast or distribution of data messages which is harmful; unlawful broadcast or distribution of data messages of intimate image without consent.

The Bill imposes a list of penalties and allows for imprisonment for up to 15 years for cybercrimes and the maximum fine that may be levied for failing to timeously report an incident or failing to preserve information is now capped at R50,000, far less than the extraordinarily high penalties for non-disclosure levied in the initial version of the Bill.

Necessary actions

The search and seizure powers granted in terms of the new Bill “do not represent increasing the state’s surveillance powers”, Deputy Minister, John Jeffries said, “But if the State cannot seize evidential material to adduce as evidence, it will be impossible to prove the guilt of an accused person.”

Any hearings will obviously focus mainly upon the onuses and impositions imposed in the Bill upon electronic communications service providers and financial institutions, known by an acronym in the Bill as “ECSPs”. A date for further parliamentary briefings by DoJ has yet to be scheduled.
Previous articles on category subject
Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill invokes suspicion – ParlyReportSA
Draft Cybercrime Bill drafts industry – ParlyReportSA
Lack of skills hampering broadband rollout – ParlyReportSA

 

Posted in Communications, Home Page Slider, Justice, constitutional, LinkedIn, Security,police,defence, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Parliament set for tough questioning

Editorial…

…..Busy session to get some answers

….  In the absence of any move by the National Prosecuting Authority, particularly the somnambulant National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams whose department seems confused as to whether 100,000 leaked Gupta e-mails constitute prima facie evidence of fraud or not, it falls to a parliamentary committee in Cape Town once again to be the first official venue for any debate of consequence on the State/Gupta corruption scandals.

In one of the first meetings of the recently re-opened Parliament, the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee is to receive a report back from legal experts on the setting up of the Eskom enquiry.

Party vs the Church

Oddly enough, it was in also Cape Town, at St George’s Cathedral, in early June, where the fight first began.    Later, the venue was room 249 in the National Assembly, where the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee was addressed by Bishop of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). He had then just released a report on corruption by the SACC Unburdening Panel.

It fell to the Bishop the first shot and there was a sobering moment of silence in parliamentary room 249 when he finished talking. It felt like a small moment in South African history.  What came after that seemed like a little bit of a parliamentary let-down in the following weeks but it is important that what the Bishop had to say is further reported for the record.

Take that

Bishop Mpumlwana reminded all present, and particularly parliamentarians who claimed that the Church should not be “fiddling in politics”, that the same politicians had repeated the phrase, “So help me God” when taking office.

He said that the Church had no intention of ignoring the evil that was being perpetrated on the people of South Africa and asked all to note that the Constitution ended, “May God bless South Africa.”

He also said that systematic looting of resources had created a crisis for South Africans, particularly the poor. He called upon all parliamentarians to look to their consciences and assist with “the righteous cause of tracking down all those involved” in what was now an obvious state capture plan hatched during President Zuma’s watch in which the President himself, he said, was involved.

Cry, the beloved country

In a particularly moving address, he reminded all that SACC had come out in vocal support of the ANC during the apartheid years when President PW Botha was in power.   Now was the time to speak up again on the unbridled abuse of power by an ANC Cabinet and a President “who had lost his way on moral issues.”

The Church, he said, must intervene and as a result of the SACC “unburdening” process which had been conducted some months ago, he now knew that “mafia-style control” was being exercised by a political elite in Eskom, Transnet, Denel, and other government agencies.

Ignored

An attempt was in process to gain control over public funds destined particularly regarding rail, arms and nuclear projects, the last being a totally unnecessary burden placed upon the country, he said.    He concluded with an appeal to parliamentarians present to expose the crimes committed and “restore the dream that had built a rainbow nation admired the world over.”

It was gratifying to hear in following days that the Public Enterprises committee, under chairperson Zukiswa Rantho, had instituted an enquiry into Eskom’s accounts (and also Transnet and Denel it turned out) with legal opinion to be discussed in the in the next session of Parliament.

That time has now arrived and one hopes that a lot of explanations will emerge and a lot more untruths discovered in meetings with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and its apparently confused but certainly compromised leader responsible, Minister, Lynne Brown.

Looking ahead

Parliament has now a busy schedule in August to catch up on lost time with delays incurred by staging a “secret ballot” on the no-confidence in President Zuma vote.

One issue will involve the passage of the contentious Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, scheduled for a meeting with the Select Committee again towards the end of August; the Expropriation Bill; and the implementation of all Twin Peaks regulations – including those for the Financial Intelligence Centre to operate in terms of the “money-laundering” changes.

This last-named body is quoted as having handed over some 7,000 cases of suspicious money movements to SAPS/Hawks and Themba Godi, chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), has made the public comment that any parliamentary finance joint meetings must see such matters on oversight resolved in the short term, preferably immediately.

Energy up and down

Minister of Energy, Mmamaloko Kubayi, was to be informing her Portfolio Committee on the can of worms opened with her suspension of the board the Central Energy Fund stated by her as being in connection with the suspicious sale of South Africa’s oil reserves held by the Strategic Fuel Fund.

Past Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, seems to have possibly lied earlier to Parliament over the sale of these assets and she, in her subsequent silence, appears to be joining what is now a whole roomful of past ministers and director generals involved in the tangled web of deceit and manipulation at the edge of business and commerce  – some of it linked to Gupta e-mails, some just motivated by plain criminal greed.

But all Energy Portfolio Committee meetings on any subject have now been abruptly halted in the light of matters involving the possible suspension of the DG of Energy Policy and Planning, Omhi Aphane, (a long-time and experienced government staffer) on on an issue regarding of nuclear consultancy fees, according to the media.   It would appear a whistle blower is at work in DoE.

Minister Kubayi is certainly causing waves and many hope that the responsibility for Eskom is to be handed over to this Minister from the DPE, back to where it was originally rooted with all other energy resources.

Untouched as usual

The issue of debt relief legislation under the aegis of Chair Joan Fubbs of the Trade and Industry Committee will be important as will meetings on energy involving electricity, IPPs, nuclear and clearing up the PetroSA mess.   But first, this committee should sort out what is to be done with a draft Copyright Bill amending and updating anchor legislation, laws that have not been touched since 1976.

What DTI have so far come up with has legal experts in complete confusion since there appears no understanding by DTI in their draft of the difference between paintings, works of art and the high-tec world of data authorship which underwrites commerce and industry and on which depends a massive IT industry both here and mostly abroad.   Fortunately, with a person like Joan Fubbs in charge, basic misunderstandings such as this will get sorted out.  However, that such unintended consequences might have occurred worries many.

The various Finance Committees will meet for joint sessions for a number of tax and money Bills and amendment proposals and Posts and Telecommunications will hear its Department’s comments on public hearings, all regarding the ICT White Paper Policy.

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Barnes prepares SAPO for SASSA

Modernising SAPO a culture change

….. sent to clients 27 February…. Stage by stage, Mark Barnes, Group Chief Executive Officer of South African Post Office (SAPO), appears to be reforming cultures and cleaning out “ten years of decay”, as he put it to the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.

“The years 2017 and 2018 could be our years”, he said, “especially if the Cabinet smiles on a SASSA deal. We have the reserves to do this thing.”

Introduced by Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, on the utility’s presentation on its corporate progress report and prospects for the third quarter, CEO Mark Barnes claimed that SAPO is becoming profitable; is well capitalised and the long-awaited corporatisation process is back on track with many of its labour problems sorted out.

Up and away

When introducing him to new members of the committee, the Minister said that for the last few years SAPO had been facing many challenges, but CEO Barnes, with a new Group Chief Financial Officer, “had put SAPO on the road to recovery”.

Because of its struggles with old systems of the past, digging it out of financial mismanagement and the need to pay urgently its creditors, SAPO was given a cash injection from the State.   The Minister said this was a good decision.  In 2017 SAPO was starting to focus on new businesses, with part of the strategic planning focused on the internet. One of the key goals was corporatisation, the Minister concluded.

New world

Mark Barnes described the position when he took over the reins to save the utility from “self-inflicted suicide” was far worse than was originally thought. He described a process whereby he had to send specialised “swat” teams into each major sorting complex starting with the large Johannesburg complex and eventually to other major towns and cities.

It took months, he said, to “clean up the mess and try to establish order out of chaos”, a good deal of which had been caused by the extended postal strike but mainly poor systems and management disinterest.

The delays caused by basic simple clean-up housekeeping held the initial  financial assessment back whilst the physical clean-up operations, after years of neglect were undertaken, he said.   The “swat” teams eventually established what SAPO assets had and where they were located.

First audit

He said, “I hope this is the last time I refer to ‘the past’ but we are having a mock audit in late January 2017 to establish remaining areas of wasteful expenditure, something that was not even thinkable of last year.”   He said, “The main issue is that SAPO has established an air of confidence and that confidence has reached a point where the rest of the journey becomes a worthwhile investment.”

In answer to criticism from Shadow Minister Cameron MacKenzie (DA) who said that “this SAPO report is being prefaced by the same remarks as before” and who added that it “was the same story of promises made last year but re-hashed”, CEO Barnes made a rebuttal. He retorted that “It is a mistake to take just a superficial look from the outside. Internal organization is being achieved and we haven’t had time to wave flags.”  He gave a long list of what had been achieved.

Heavyweights in saving banking

On savings, Barnes noted that SAPO serviced some 6 million customers with 2,486 outlets and reached out where no established banking services existed. “Compliance is now in place on banking procedures with the SA Reserve Bank  and we are seeking approval to establish the promised SA Postbank Limited with CIPC,  applications being submitted before July 1 2017.”

Postbank’s depositor funds were now standing at R4.9bn, having increased by 128m. Postbank itself had invested R7.3bn, he said.  Payables, Barnes also said, were reduced by R531m and the group met liquidity and solvency standards. The Post Office is backed by a R4.2bn Treasury guarantee.

 An overdraft of R270m had been repaid and R17m had been realized from the sale of pointless property holdings. Rental from existing tenants had increased and a more suitable and less expensive head office was now being targeted. He said he was always trying to get officials out of their old mindset about SAPO and to realize they were in business.

Major cut backs

On the labour front, there were 18,000 less staff this year, Barnes said, “brought about by a process of natural attrition” and it was hoped to transfer a large portion of a “hopelessly overstaffed head office” to operational duties.

If operational revenue failed to provide the necessary improved results in the short term, he said, then a retrenchment programme may have to be negotiated. “It will be tough but that’s how it is. The unions are aware of the long-term planning processes that have been undertaken and the alternatives understood”, he said.

SASSA a target

CEO Barnes expanded on the possibility of SAPO handling all payments of SASSA grants in the light of the volumes of “points of presence which amounted”, he repeated, “to approximately 5,000 counter points  Postbank is also to make an application to government to both handle all government mail business and a submission to SASSA in the very near future as current hiatus evolves.

He said that they had been talking to National Treasury on the savings to the national fiscus that could be gained. It was agreed that it would take much to achieve this possibility but was highly “do-able”.

He said Postbank had sufficient funds of its own to capitalize such a venture with IT networks and training should the security of such a contract be awarded. He commented that ordinary mail had dropped to 50% of original volumes due to the advent of electronic mail.

“This sea change in the way that the world now communicates had found the original management of SAPO completely at a loss on what to do”, he said, “and the decision had  apparently been to do nothing.”

Diversification from snail mail

The plan was now to diversify into courier services probably with a partner and to focus on selling Postbank services at package rates to corporate business.  

So far, four offer attempts had been made to “buy in” as partners, CEO Barnes said, all four of which had been found totally unacceptable.  There had been an obvious attempt in all cases just to acquire Postbank’s extensive national footprint as if a possible merger of interests was a fire sale, in each case contenders having given no consideration to the idea of what “was in it” as a revenue source to Postbank.   All propositions were  rejected out of hand.

Barnes told Parliamentarians, with the Minister still present at the portfolio committee meeting, that e-commerce in the form of public hubs or malls to the SADC area as well as locally will become a major revenue base for SAPO especially in lower income groups.

Generally, on all fronts, 22 significant projects had been approved, CEO Barnes said, with a further 9 in the project stage; 4 projects were in the procurement stage and others in testing and feasibility stages.

Transport more agile

As far as the transport book was concerned, SAPO  had decreased its annual expenditure   by 30% by exercising rationality and purchasing new vehicles cutting down on maintenance and repairs to old vehicles, Savings were also achieved by boosting efficiency with “a more agile logistics mind-set.”

The overall corporate plan forecast is mixed, Barnes said, and whilst revenue has declined significantly on a net basis, which was expected and planned for whilst SAPO re-grouped and cut out unprofitable exercises, it will still meet its corporate plan targets and “looked headed to be back into the black by a small amount in 2016/7”, said Barnes.

When it came to the balance sheet, he remarked SAPO still has an extremely large amount of debt which needs to be paid. However, it was important to note that the entity was now solvent and could pay. It also had liquidity in cash of its own available for development.

The big plan

He told the Committee that the key to SAPO’s future was the corporatisation of the Post Bank, with approval to establish the bank being granted by the SA Reserve Bank in July 2016. Preparations were currently underway to submit for registration in February 2017 as a South African Postbank Limited entity with CIPC.

The Postbank staff, operations and balance sheet will transfer from the Postbank division to the new entity after the incorporation process. The Postbank will allow for broader financial inclusion for all South Africans and it has the capacity to do this, he said.

SAPO, he said, had a relatively sophisticated E-commerce infrastructure with a large footprint which allowed it to facilitate speedy connections and deliveries. This, combined with the ports, vehicles and the access SAPO has at airports could make SAPO the E-commerce hub for Africa.

Ms M Shinn (DA) asked whether anything had been done address the security of IT systems and whether SAPO had the money to recruit and retain cyber-security skills. Cameron MacKenzie asked for more information on the SASSA bid.

Biometrics needed

Outsourcing was now underway and tenders being called for on biometrics, CEO Barnes said, which was the only route to stop fraud, duplicated payments to persons claiming or withdrawing twice under different names; to follow world trends and to get SAPO into the future to serve the nation as it should. Such was necessary if they were to handle the SASSA account which would be a great achievement and was the correct thing to do.

He said that partnerships in the IT sector were very likely to be sought as well as outsourcing, as SAPO, given its size and history, was not going to be able to keep up with the latest developments in the IT sector, nor would SAPO wish to be that expert, he said. Their focus was to get into courier work and banking, not IT. So, partnerships were going to be needed on the right terms.
He said that there had been half-expected problems with the data centre and disaster recovery this year as new equipment was being added to old. Repairs had been undertaken and there were negotiations underway to outsource the work of the data centre.

CEO Barnes said motor vehicles licence renewal processing was up by about R7m transactions in the year but this figure was coming from a very low base.

Money, money, money

In response to the question of when was SAPO likely to return to profitability, he re-confirmed that SAPO expects to start trading profitably during the 2018 financial year.

On complaints from the DA that SAPO still needed help from Treasury, Barnes explained that it was the nature of a turnaround situation not use cash in hand for the wrong things. Working money was one thing but depositor’s funds and reserves were a completely different issue, he said, and these were the security needed for developmental issues to get SAPO off the starting block.

He said whilst corporates have replaced SAPO with other service providers, they are a lot more expensive to hire. “SAPO is a low-cost producer and the only reason people turned to the alternatives is because SAPO became a dysfunctional low cost producer.”
“This is changing”, he said, “and we have to change the corporate customer mindset to show that we can do things again”.
Previous articles on category subject

SAPO – one big bungle at taxpayer’s cost – ParlyReportSA

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Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill invokes suspicion

Cybercrime Bill stated as invasive

…sent to clients 28 Jan…   A new law to assist in enforcing South Africa’s fight against cybercrime, hacking and unlawful interception of data is about to be tabled in Parliament. As expected, the proposals are not without considerable misgivings in the private sector and involve claims that the state may have designs upon the control of free speech and/or are intent upon the control or manipulation of cyberspace.

The draft Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill (C&C Bill) has now been approved by Cabinet, the draft having been published for comment as far back as September 2015.  Industry players are deeply involved and the next platform for their involvement moves to the actual wording of the document that will form the basis for regulations.

Agents for the state

The legislation states that the proposals are designed to give powers to the State Security, Defence, Police and Telecommunications Ministers, which powers will not only extend into many aspects of South Africa’s key economic, financial and labour environments but will impose responsibilities on service providers.

The Bill clearly states it will call upon the private sector for compliance into order to meet its objectives and will also change the way the public service goes about its business to reflect the call for security.  Cross hairs are to zero in on the criminalisation of cyber-facilitated offenses including circulation of messages aimed at economic harm, contain pornography or could cause mental or psychological harm.

Parliamentary stage

The next stage of public sector involvement will be extensive parliamentary hearings, no doubt involving joint portfolio committees, to cover the many aspects involved.  Also to allow for further submissions on deep concerns in the private sector regarding compliance and intrusion of free speech rights.

The long and quite complicated process of drafting such legislation has been undertaken by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.  It is stated that the proposals are of an umbrella approach towards legislation already in the ambit of the new Bill, the objective of which is to extend any new regulations over a wide range of business endeavours and activities “in the public interest”.

Long history

The process started at a point in the cybercrime history log which seems a century ago.  A government gazette articulated what was necessary. “I, Mbangiseni David Mahlobo, Minister of State Security, hereby publish the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework as approved by Cabinet in March 2012 for public information.”

The long journey has finally resulted in a 130-page draft which firstly creates offences, prescribes penalties and regulates for powers to investigate, gain access, search and seize items. It gives such powers to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the State Security Agency (SSA).

Future structures

The Bill then proposes that structurally the Minister of Police establish both a National Cybercrime Centre and appoint a director in charge – a person currently serving with the SSA – and similarly appoint such a director in charge for a “point of contact centre” for cybercrime activity, outreach and contact.

Monitoring all structures will be a Cyber Response Committee (CRC) made up of 13 experienced persons chaired by the DG, Dept. of State Security.

Any interventions at this level will be, by nature of the vastly changing business environment and the global challenge of the subject matter of the Bill, “which will form the critical point of balance between the forces of state control and public endeavour”.

Ground troops

Initially, the Minister of State Security is to appoint a director in charge of a proposed Cyber Security Centre, such person also serving with SSA and for the Minister to establish Government Security Incident Response teams, also appointing a person from the State Security Agency as the head of each specialised investigating team.

Finally, on structures, the Minister of Defence is to establish and operate a Cyber Command and appoint a General Officer Commanding.

Furthermore, provision in the Bill is made for the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services to establish and operate a Cyber Security Hub and appoint a director of same. It is in this area that assumedly the main interface between private and public sectors will take place.

Key points

An example of a database to be protected is given in the Bill as the Home Affairs database and the mandate for dealing with cybercrime clearly includes the fact that foreign states and South Africa will be co-operating to investigate possible offences.

Also, powers are granted to the President who may enter agreements with foreign states to promote cybersecurity. The proposals make it quite clear that international crime fighting and the local protection of cyberspace are to be woven together. This will involve changes to the anchor Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, particularly where the Act deals with attempts to deal with abuse of information systems.

The nitty gritty

Where the C&C Bill ventures into the private sector there will no doubt be, and certainly has been to date, plenty of debate.  The Bill as proposed, broadly and perhaps too grandly, allows for the imposition of obligations on electronic communications service providers (ECSPs) and financial institutions in respect of aspects “which may impact on cybersecurity”.

The difference between obligations and compliance seems a fine line but already the Dept. of Telecommunications has set up a website on https://www.cybersecurityhub.gov.za/ to try and clarify issues.

At what point?

The general obligations of ECSPs are a set out in the draft bill but an obligation is proposed that as soon as a ECSP “becomes aware of an offence being committed on its network”, the matter must be declared to the National Cybercrime Centre.

The offences are enumerated in the Bill but it is possible that clarity is required, according to stakeholders who have voiced opinions so far, as to who decides at and at what level the retention of a suspicion becomes an offence or to restate the problem, at what point does a suspicion become a reportable fact.

Proposed offences include unlawful interception of data; unlawful access, personal information and financial information-related offences; unlawful acts in respect of software or hardware tools; unlawful acts in respect of malware; unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of passwords, access codes or similar data or devices; computer-related fraud and computer-related extortion.

Extensive powers

Most focus on the fact that the Bill’s clause 58 gives the State Security Minister powers to determine what should be included in a “national critical information infrastructure”.

The Bill goes on to state that should it “appear” to the Minister that any information presented is of such “strategic nature” that any interferences, loss, damage, immobilisation or disruption which may result in prejudice to the “security, defence, law enforcement or international relations of South Africa; or prejudice the health and safety of the public; interfere or disrupt any essential service’, then the Minister may implement the powers granted by the Bill.

The “Apple” problem

Broadly speaking, also included is any malevolent act which “causes any major economic loss, destabilises the economy of South Africa or creates any form of public emergency’’ with the proviso that the organisation must “at its own cost take steps to the satisfaction of the Cabinet minister” to comply with a state request.

Any “affected organisation may be given the right to be afforded an opportunity to make representation” but, to repeat, players in the industry note that a great amount of responsibility has been delegated without clear definitions of what is reportable.

The background

The seriousness of the Bill and the recognition that cybercrime must be dealt with firmly is measured by the background given to the Bill.    It is estimated that cyber-related offences currently exceed a value of more than R1bn annually. This is escalating at speed, the Department of Justice states.

In general terms, one of the tasks of the Cybercrime Centre is stated in the revised draft as informing all of cybercrime trends and creating an environment which enables parties to report cybercrime without being suspected of whistle-blowing with the accompanying commercial disadvantages.

In other words, the fear with the original draft expressed by the Right2Know campaign that the draconian powers of seizure worried many in the IT industry and that lack of protection for whistle blowers was out of kilter with free speech requirements, may have to some extent been responded to.

Heavy hand of the law

Still, fines of up to R10m and/or 10 years’ imprisonment are involved following a guilty verdict for unlawfully accessing or intercepting “a national critical information infrastructure” involving “critical data”, which makes for a tricky scenario for ECSPs handling traffic and journalists handling information.

This is in the light that an ECSP could be liable on conviction to a fine of R10 000 for each day on which such failure to comply with disclosure requirements continues, it was noted.    To be specific, some fifty offences are detailed in the areas of data, messages, computers, and networks.

This is serious talk.   Whilst national cybersecurity needs are recognised as paramount, as the latest draft explains, the extent of state powers in the hands of uncontrolled and misdirected state effort gives concern to many in the ECSP business community, particularly in the light of the public nature of the internet.

No warrantless searches

On the other hand, whilst the C&C Bill gives SAPS and SSA extensive powers to investigate, search, access and seize assets wherever they might be located, the search powers granted are not emanating from the proposed Bill.

Search powers are only possible provided the search entity has a search warrant granted in the normal way, the department says.  SSA will be purely looking, they say, for data that has a feature of malevolence and commits crime in terms of the need to protect the State and its citizens.

At a briefing for the media, the Justice and Constitutional Development Department in Pretoria Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, gave a further assurance that what is about to arrive in Cape Town “will not give any powers to the State Security Agency (SSA) to control the internet or spy on local users”.

Criminal data

The search and seizure powers granted in terms of the latest draft of the C&C Bill around the interception of data “do not represent increasing the state’s surveillance powers”, the Minister said.

“As part of the final draft of the bill, it says that to prove an offence in a court of law, data must be seized as evidential material.  If the State cannot seize evidential material to adduce as evidence, it is impossible to prove the guilt of an accused person. “

The criminal procedure act is currently used to investigate cybercrimes, Minister Jeffery said, and to this end the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) “are already in the tool box”.

Anchor still RICA

The C&C Bill is merely extending the RICA from that aspect, he said, which already has basic general principles in place to protect persons against unlawful interception of communications. “There is thus no extension of the so-called ‘surveillance powers’ of the State”, he added.

He confirmed that previous versions of the Bill, whilst stating a person who fell foul on the issue of state information that was classified as secret could go to jail for 10 years without the possibility of a fine, now, the final draft of the Bill acknowledges that journalists and whistle-blowers have protection under the Protected Disclosures Act.

Minister Jeffrey said was satisfied that the C&C Bill, now headed towards its final shape, gives the State the tools to halt crime and bring those who used data as a tool of crime to book.

 Defining data

He concluded, “Data is merely a means to commit offences such as fraud, damage of programmes and computer systems, extortion, forgery and uttering. It can also be used to commit murder by remotely switching of a respiratory system or terrorism by overloading the centrifuges of a nuclear station or remotely opening the sluices of a dam which causes large scale flooding.”

Much of what will come up in the parliamentary hearings of submissions will most likely involve the space occupied by the ECSPs and their responsibilities as perceived by the State. Furthermore, the role to be played by any business institution using large amounts of data needs to be clarified as far as areas of compliance are concerned.

Previous articles on category subject

Draft Cybercrime Bill drafts industry – ParlyReportSA

South Africa on international cybersecurity – ParlyReportSA

Broadband allocation could involve SABC – ParlyReportSA

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Hate speech remains in Hate Crimes Bill

Obsession with Facebook slows draft 

….sent to clients 15 Jan…  The highly controversial draft Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill has been published by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for comment. Submissions are now being considered.  The Bill has been in the making for almost ten years.

Whilst provisions to deal with proven instances of hate crimes were welcomed in general, the department has said, many expressed their doubts regarding the more recent inclusion of hate speech into the draft provisions, particularly in the light the effect that such provisions could have on freedom of speech. For this to be included is still the preferred route, the department said, but the implications are being carefully studied.

Testing the water

In November 2016, it was Cabinet’s decision to publish the Bill in the knowledge that many would object to the hate speech provisions and consequently the department has openly said the publication of the draft was very much to “test the water”.

Whilst activists have in general expressed in the media approval of the fact that a draft, after such a long wait, has finally appeared, lawyers have commented that if hate speech is to be included then “the bar on onus of proof must be set very high and intent to incite must also be proven beyond any doubt.”

Others have indicated concern that the inclusion of hate speech was so controversial that it could delay a much-needed piece of legislation by endless argument surrounding the curtailment of freedom of speech.

 

Overall aims

The Bill says it aims “to give effect to South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Constitution and international human rights instruments concerning racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in accordance with international law obligations; to provide for the offence of hate crimes and the offence of hate speech; and the prosecution of persons who commit those crimes [and] to provide for appropriate sentences that may be imposed on persons who commit hate crime and hate speech offences”.

At the time of writing (12 Jan) no Bill has yet been tabled on the subject by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe.   However, speaking at a meeting of the working group dealing with the draft, his Deputy Minister, John Jeffery, said that racist remarks made on social media platforms by people such as Penny Sparrow indicated to the department a growing need to include hate speech provisions.

Unintended consequences

Sanja Bornman, the chairperson of the working group and managing attorney of Lawyers for Human Rights’ Gender Equality Project, said the inclusion of the hate speech provisions was “very bad news for victims of hate crime, which affects a wide range of people based on race, nationality, gender identity and many other grounds”.  She added that the group was “Nevertheless, very happy that the Bill was finally out for comment”.

According to media reports, she commented that contrary to the deputy minister comments, that the inclusion of hate speech provisions “were not at the behest of the working group” and that its members were “surprised” to hear that such had been included.

 Social media

This indicates, of course, that the move to include hate speech might have been politically motivated from the top but all the same Bornman has admitted that when work first started on the Bill some years ago, social media did not occupy such a prominent position it now has in society and this move may have come as a result.

The deputy minister said the working group would remain at the job of dealing with the input of submissions and a final draft may emerge in February 2017. The Penny Sparrow incident seems concluded but whether both Ministers are satisfied remains to be seen.

ends

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Broadband allocation could involve SABC

ICT White Paper to set up broadband allocation…

An Integrated ICT White Paper involving broadband allocation is in its final stages of preparation involvingSiyabonga Cweley consultation with various parties, said Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, during his Budget vote speech to Parliament.  This matter is a long outstanding issue in the industry and delays are imperiling broadband development.

What has concerned Opposition members during earlier parliamentary meetings on the subject was the remark by the Minister that “Some of the delay has been the delay to allow the Department of Communications to make a contribution to the decision regarding allocation across the spectrum and how this would be applied.”

This remark must be seen in the light of the fact that the two ministries and departments were split some five years ago and the conclusion is that Minister Faith Muthambi and the SABC under it’s new and controversial head of broadcasting, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, has been drawn into the equation.

Minister Cwele also said at the time that also added that his Ministry was working with Treasury to establish a “funding model” for the broadband “roll out”, estimated at R67bn.

Spectrum policy included

In his budget speech, Minister Cwele re-affirmed that the White Paper would be supported by a new Spectrum Policy Paper in order to provide for “open or public access networks and opening up the use of high demand broadband spectrum for use by all licensees while adequately compensating those who invest in infrastructure.   All South Africans must benefit from participation in the digital society, he said.                                  ‘

Until now, there have been a number of unfortunate reasons for the holdup in broadband which have been given by government in parliamentary meetings to date. With both DTPS and Minister Cwele present at the most recent parliamentary meeting before Parliament with ICASA as the regulatory body also  present, it became quite evident  that the two were at loggerheads on the manner and method of spectrum allocation.

Different signals

Minister Cwele, during the portfolio meeting, prioritised his department’s requirement as being the need to

transform the sector to ensure meaningful Black participation when allocation takes place. ICASA meanwhile placed far less emphasis on this, preferring an allocation on an “auction” basis style whereby bidders not only name their price but declared their additional contributions to Black upliftment and general social and community development programmes, knowing this would more likely attract outside investors.

Dr. Cwele admitted at the time that “broadband allocation is perhaps the biggest regulatory bottleneck in the South African deployment of wireless technologies at the moment.”

Minister says industry “monopolistic”

In his subsequent budget vote speech he notably remarked, “Radical supply side interventions will reduce barriers to investors by moving away  from monopolistic infrastructure allowing for competition in opening access tobroadband broadband networks”.

The Minister told MPs in his speech that the White Paper will provide for “a simplified, streamlined and nationally coordinated framework to accelerate the use of networks meaning, he said, a capability to “drastically reduce the costs to operators and, down the line, to consumers.”

This issue has been plaguing the South Africa consumer market for a number of years, he added, and it was widely accepted that with the growth of cell phone usage by all income groups, he said, the present pricing cannot continue at the expense of ordinary households.

Domestic WiFi roaming

Separately, private sector operators such as Cisco have said that any such move will present mobile operators intelecommunications South Africa with a tremendous opportunity to optimize capital and operational expenditures and improve user experience.

From discussion after the Minister had spoken, it emerged also from MPs that the more mobile data offloaded makes viable alternative to mobile broadband users in crowded locations such as shopping malls where spectrum availability for present mobile access to networks is limited.   In addition, it was noted that a bigger data offload will give operators the opportunity to reduce data costs, allowing them to accelerate adoption of competitive market share opportunities. The Minister made no comment on this and it was clear that the BEE component was a ministry priority.

Crosscutting in government

HlengiweMkhizeThe Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Posts, Hlengiwe Mkhize, followed up the Minister in her address to the committee by focusing on “discussions taking place with the labour, public service and administration and higher education and training departments to boost ICT skills.”    She also mentioned that the White Paper would map out some of the internet connectivity plans for the rural economy to stimulate growth and opportunities.

In response to both Minister’s briefings, the following day in debate Opposition members said as far as the public service use of broadband was concerned in all aspects of communications, health and education, “it was time for the discussions to stop withe other departments and for the roll out to begin.”

 MPs noted the comment that out of 46 African countries surveyed, the cheapest mobile prepaid product in South Africa is still nearly 7.5 times more expensive than the African continent’s cheapest similar product.   The South African government is one of the smallest users of broadband facilities in the world, according to Cape Town based Research ICT Africa.

 Previous articles on category subject  

Broadband allocation on its way – ParlyReportSA

Govt and Nersa differ on broadband – ParlyReportSA

Overhaul of broadband policy underway – ParlyReportSA

Parliament gets final dates for digital TV – ParlyReportSA

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SAPO – one big bungle at taxpayer’s cost

Total management failure…..

The horror story of the uncontrolled mess in the South African Post Office (SAPO) and how this state entity,
without forSAPOmal management control to speak of and facing imminent danger of structural collapse, was reported upon in Parliament recently

The route to near bankruptcy was recounted to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) by current SAPO board chairperson, Mr Simo Lushaba, who had been summoned to explain the crisis at SAPO, accompanied by the new CEO of the Post Office, recently appointed Mark Barnes.  Comments were added by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Siyabonga Cwele.

Previously Mark Barnes had tried to respond to the call by SCOPA to report but the meeting had to be abandoned, incurring the ire of the Committee, since it is the chairman of the board of the state entity in question, in this case Simo Lushaba, who can only respond to a SCOPA call as the nominated person in terms of parliamentary procedure was unavailable.

Rulings are clear on this, as is the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA) in the case of SOEs.

Poor management

Immediately, it became evident in the meeting that whilst the worst period of poor management in SAPO had occurred in the last two years culminating in four strikes in 2015, although not necessarily connected issues, the common factor was a collapsing management hierarchy over a number of years beforehand.

Senior officials, it appears, throughout the organisation were totally out of touch with employees and no overarchingSimo Lushaba managerial directives were passed according to any form of plan. The disastrous current situation was a culmination of “systemic mismanagement over a long period of time”, said Lushaba.

The SAPO board chairperson said SAPO did not have the cash available to continue with legal disciplinary proceedings against the former CEO and CFO, both persons having received a total of R5.7m in salaries whilst suspended for a year, during which it was alleged that they were responsible for the chaos when in control of SAPO.

The SAPO board had decided to cut its losses and halt the legal proceedings with regard to the legal case. “It was not an ideal outcome but unfortunately it was just taking too long, plus we did not have the money to follow the case through”, said Lushaba.

Ship with no rudder

When asked for sum up comments by MPs of the SCOPA committee towards the end of the meeting, new CEO Barnes said that SAPO, as an entity, was currently suffering a loss of about R125m a month. He told sapo queuesparliamentarians that twenty-five post offices had been closed down, some of them because of rent arrears.

Despite a further allocation of R650m in terms of the last Budget allocation, “this came nowhere near to eliminating the mountain of debt which amounted to more than R800m by March 2016”, he said.

With a balance sheet such as this, he said, “a government guarantee was no longer sufficient to persuade banks to lend SAPO money, despite Treasury agreeing to extend on its repayment loan date.” An immediate cash injection was the only route, he said, and that was on its way as agreed to by the Minister of Finance and Treasury. “This means that SAPO can pay its some of its creditors within the next few days”, he said.

Compromising with creditors

“The very existence of SAPO under threat on a daily basis is evident as creditors understandably want simple proof of future income which is extraordinary for a state entity”, Barnes said.

“Every month the delay in paying creditors has made it increasingly difficult to continue operations and negotiate commercial contracts on favourable terms since there is a total lack of trust on the part of suppliers.”

CEO Barnes said there was now a plan in place to turn around the organisation, with an estimated loss of R1.5bnsapo3 expected for the current year, adding to the R1.2bn loss for R2014/5. By the end of 2017/8 there could be a small gain reflected on the balance sheets. But the plan still hangs in the balance awaiting decisions from banks, he said at the time.

He also said he was “disturbed by the fact the banking sector did not automatically accept government guarantees”. This fact was slowing the downturn around and the plan was losing momentum. He suggested that the state should take another view on their relationships with the banks and enormous sums of cash they receive from the state to pay public servants.

SAPO was already three months behind in its strategy to achieve future successful financial outcomes whilst the banks made up their minds and Treasury despatched the cash on a painfully slow basis, he noted.

Oligarchy over

He stated that never again should SAPO ever be “a one man one show business.” It could indeed be rescued, he said, and made profitable in the next three years but no sooner and it could become a valuable asset in five years.”

This could be achieved by doing vigorous work to identify every source of loss, he said. The memory of the postal strike was also very evident with all speakers, still not resolved in entirety.

Mark Barnes“The Public Finance Management Act is the challenge”, CEO Barnes noted. “The competitors of SAPO make decisions in three to six minutes whilst SAPO made decisions in three to six months.” It was clear he included Treasury in this remark.

He stressed that PostBank was unaffected by SAPO’s trading deficit since it was an entirely separate enterprise holding some R7.3bn in cash in the form of savings. In this area lay the future, CEO Barnes said, adding that SAPO had to turn from a postal operation to a faster and cheaper package/courier service for the citizens of South Africa.

Minister weighs in

Minister Cwele added to this comment when he noted that reckless trading decisions had been made when globally mail volumes were going down. There were far too many post offices in unprofitable areas paying enormous rentals to developers all resulting from the days when it was “the hype to have a post office in every major shopping centre.” This was bad management and bad thinking at the time, the Minister said.

cweleHe pointed out that Parliament had passed the Post Bank Act and the PostBank could eventually work as a limited savings banker and bank operator in post offices, especially in unreachable areas where the private sector did not wish to venture, if not in small towns as well.

The Minister said that at some stage strategic decisions needed to be taken on such issues and also such matters as government officials being paid through PostBank. The Minister echoed the view that post offices should become competitive, low cost, courier service providers as well as handling smaller volumes of mail now being experienced and be run individually on a profit basis.

Where the money is

A recent survey had been conducted of post offices running at a loss and those most profitable, the Minister said. The most profitable were in the old Transkei area in the Eastern Cape and the one post office running at the biggest loss was the Sandton Post Office, he concluded.

Chairman Lushaba explained that the service called PostBank was a division of the post office. There was a risk osapo7f talking of the organization as a whole. For example, the disaster recovery IT programme of PostBank had worked well but the IT problems of post offices itself were still causing high risk. For example, he said, the entire post office backup system was on its own system and there was no separate system to switch to. He wondered how such elementary mistakes had been made.

Bad record

During the debate on a litany of irresponsible financial decisions, absent financial systems and even the lack of a working asset register, it emerged after a full day of reporting and cross questioning by MPs that a call had to besapo5 made for upgrading of IT and general management skills, Treasury officials present took a dim view on the future unless this was done, they said.   The question of basic training was also seen as an impediment as was the lack of broadband facilities to improve the IT position.

SCOPA demanded, as a committee, that the previous CFO and CEO be brought to book since, besides matters involving the rejection of the auditor general to undertake an audit; the inability to produce a balance sheet and ignorance of the Public Finance Management Act in all matters of procurement, criminal charges should be investigated as a matter of course and with speed.

Previous articles on category subject

Lack of skills hampering broadband rollout – ParlyReportSA

The big SA cabinet crunch – ParlyReportSA

Broadband allocation on its way – ParlyReportSA

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Broadband allocation on its way

Minister wants BEE ownership in broadband…..

sent to clients 20 March….As if nobody knew already, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services,cwele Dr Siyabonga Cwele, told Parliament that broadband allocation is perhaps the biggest regulatory bottleneck in the South African deployment of wireless technologies.     He said, at the same time, he wants to see Black owned companies have their fair share of allocation.

However, both he or his department (DTPS) and the regulatory body ICASA seem to be at odds on the system needed to allocate the spectrum, particularly in the area of setting aside sufficient spectrum to support Black broadband development and ownership specifically.    The fight to deliver urgently more high-speed bandwidth to South Africans generally is being slowed down it seems by this difference in opinion expressed.

global broad bandPresumably, the delay is all about whose satellites we use – Chinese, Russians or the US accompanied by an intelligence risk – or do we go via the masts owned by the private sector. Minister Cwele probably suspects any such deal with the private sector will not serve black interests in the proper manner. Digging trenches and laying down optic line cannot be any kind of answer.  In telecommunications all is political, rather like the nuclear issue and the similar problems faced by department of energy – the political structure overlays the practical answer.

Dr Cwele has now said the final policy paper is on its way to Cabinet.

One on one

In an extraordinary meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, both parties explained their views with the views of MPs to be added to what has become a national debate dominated to an extent by Minister Cwele’s views.

The background to the impasse is that the Electronic Communications Act empowers the Minister to issue policy directives but ICASA does not necessarily have to accept such. To distill the views of each into a few words is difficult but clearly the driving principle behind Dr. Cwele’s approach is an allocation which favours black transformation in control of spectrum whereas ICASA prefers an allocation more on an “auction” basis, whereby bidders not only name their price but then add their additional contributions to Black upliftment and general social development.

cell phone mast graphicVodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C and Neotel have in the past sunk enormous sums into the development of communications structures but the current delays in allocation are, according to reports, hurting the industry but their BEE structures are shallow, say insiders.

Dedicated view

Industry sources said before the meeting “Minister Cwele is seized with the need to transform the sector to ensure meaningful Black participation but spectrum allocation cannot be granted in the same way as the granting of concessionary mining licences, for example, if Black empowerment is the goal.”

The principles of the allocation process as stated by DTPS are indeed noble, as quoted in the relevant draft Policy Paper before Parliament, which state that the aims of the allocation policy are to:

• Promote the effective and efficient management of spectrum to ensure
  agility, flexibility and adaptability in spectrum administration
• Reduce bureaucracy and streamline processes for spectrum assignment
• Support the attainment of the national broadband targets set out in the
  South Africa Connect programme at speeds and in the time frame outlined
• Provide clarity on the treatment of spectrum in instances where demand exceeds supply
• Set aside spectrum for use on an open access basis with joint private sector investment
• Support the provision of, emergency services, safety and security and sector-specific operations

Milder

In the parliamentary debate, Sipho Mjwara, Acting DG, DTPS, was more conciliatory and said the spectrum was a public resource belonging to all people and DTPS had to apply itself on how to deal with this for the benefit of all. Currently the spectrum was operating on a first come, first serve basis but this principle certainly did not benefit all. He said there were “barriers to entry for small companies and artificial monopolies helped little.”

This was followed by comment from the Deputy Minister, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, who said it was “more logical” not to shrink away from exercising the mandate of DTPS to follow the NDP on broadband roll out. “The pillars that need to be in place must include those that had previously been excluded”.

Money must talk

Pakamile Pongwana, CEO of ICASA, responded that from an international perspective it was no longer the policy,icasa ceo as had been the case in the past, of getting maximum fees into the fiscus but the needs of complete coverage of the country. It was a combination of coverage and fees, Pongwana said.

Germany had raised money from the spectrum divide, he said, but they had included a proviso that bandwidth would only be released when rural areas had been covered. He added that other countries were already looking at 5G networks while South Africa was still looking at LTE use. “We have to stop playing catch-up”, he said.

War of words

From the debate between all groups, DTPS, ICASA and parliamentarians, it became obvious that there is an ideological battle going on. The industry sees the independence of ICASA as regulator at stake, industry sources say. The Minister said he had looked at the idea of the allocation of “set asides” for high demand spectrum but added “the Department wants the whole pie to be available for all South Africans. We are in a situation where a duopoly owns 80% of the spectrum.”

However Pongwana concluded, “The allocation of spectrum was the country’s policy choice and the assignment would be by the Regulator and be in line with procedures. While there was long term licensee allocation there was short term spectrum allocation and the Department wanted to give certainty to licensees.”

Money, money, money

moneyOn the question of infrastructure spend, DDG for ICT Infrastructure in the DTPS, summarised government views in the meeting when he said that in a country like South Africa with infrastructure and access gaps, the question had to be asked whether the country wanted to raise money as its main goal. He said it was more about service and reaching all South Africans as part of the NDP but in an equitable manner.”

Whether it would be for free or go to the highest bidder were questions the DTPS was considering as it looked at all approaches. It would probably not be for free, he said, but there had to be a compromise where small companies are not at the mercy of big companies “because of market power relations.”

The Minister concluded that all in DTPS were listening to the views of the public and industry.

Ministerial clusters.

The next step before submission of the new Spectrum Policy to Cabinet during March was to consult with the particular clusters as part of the ICT Policy White Paper procedure. Once the Spectrum Policy had been approved by Cabinet and gazetted as part of the ICT White Paper, ICASA could proceed with the licensing process on the agreed basis.
Previous articles on category subject
Lack of skills hampering broadband rollout – ParlyReportSA
Overhaul of broadband policy underway – ParlyReportSA

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Draft Cybercrime Bill drafts industry

sent to clients 12 October…..

Justice dept to combat cybercrime…..

cybercrimeA draft Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill has been released for public comment by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional development, proposing to introduce a number of measures to combat cybercrime in South Africa.

With the publication came the worrying but suspected statement that it was estimated  that cyber-related offences are escalating considerably and “currently exceed a value in excess of R1bn annually.” The Minister stated that it was the department’s view that the development of the proposed legislation “was a milestone towards building safer communities as envisaged in the National Development Plan” and aimed at putting in place “a coherent and integrated cybersecurity legislative framework to address various shortcomings which exist in dealing with cybercrime” in South Africa.

Powers

The Bill proposes regulations to allow a national cyber entity, “to investigate, search and access, or seize, as well aspects of international cooperation in respect of the investigation of cybercrime.”

Offences

Offences include “Personal information and financial information related offences; unlawful access; unlawful interception of data; unlawful acts in respect of software or hardware tools; unlawful interference with data; unlawful interference with computer device, computer network, database, critical database, electronic communications network or National Critical Information Infrastructure, unlawful acts in respect of malware; unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of passwords, access codes or similar data or devices; and, finally, any computer related fraud.”

The list of offences continues with “Computer related appropriation; computer related extortion; computer related terrorist activity and related offences; computer related espionage and unlawful access to restricted data; prohibition on dissemination of data message which advocates, promotes or incites hate, discrimination or violence; prohibition on incitement of violence and damage to property; prohibited financial transactions; infringement of copyright; harbouring or concealing person who commits an offence; attempting, conspiring, aiding, abetting, inducing, inciting, instigating, instructing, commanding, or procuring to commit an offence.”

Power of Internet

Whilst the list seems long, the Bill indeed gives some idea of the levels to which cybercrime has nowcybercrime3 reached but it also indicates the many forms of crime have turned to the Internet as a vehicle for criminal activities, both locally and internationally.

In addition, South Africa’s President is being given powers to “enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cyber security.”

The government is to establish what exactly are “national critical information infrastructures” and will provide for the establishment of a “point of contact” and various structures to deal with cyber security. Wording later in the Bill indicates that this will be called the “National Cybercrime Centre”.

National Cybercrime Centre

Once again, the communications industry is called upon to assist and impose “obligations on electronic communications service providers with respect to cyber security.” This is the clause that is bound to cause offence, even rejection because of cost and which appears to ask providers to do the work and with stiff penalties of up to R10,000 a day for every day the matter is not reported to the National Cybercrime Centre.

The clause reads, “An electronic communications service provider that is aware or becomes aware that its computer network or electronic communications network is being used to commit an offence provided for in this Act must (a) immediately report the matter to the National Cybercrime Centre; and (b) preserve any information which may be of assistance to the law enforcement agencies in investigating the offence, including information which shows the communication’s origin, destination, route, time date, size, duration and the type of the underlying services.“

Who is responsible

Earlier this year, at a cybercrime symposium in Johannesburg, the Minister of State Security said, “The Government’s approach in dealing with this matter is premised on the policy principle that national security, which includes the security of the information and communications technologies in the country, is a responsibility of the structures responsible for security in the Republic.”

This statement, when re-read, can obviously work in many ways and the Bill appears to do just this.

Other articles in this category or as background

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/communications/south-africa-needs-international-cybersecurity/

 

 

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South Africa on international cybersecurity

Cybersecurity for SA to fight cybercrime….

A Green Paper for discussion on fighting cybercrime in South Africa is expected before the end of the year, Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, said in his budget vote speech and a Bill setting up a Cybersecurity Agency by the end of next year will be enacted, developing upon the current ad hoc response to cybercrime events.

cybercrimeExperts in the industry are hoping that the Green Paper will recommend private/state partnerships.

Some time ago the African Union called on each of its member nations to develop a policy on cybersecurity but experts complain that South Africa has no a culture of cybersecurity and is falling behind on partnerships that would enable the country to defeat what the United States has named as one of the greatest threats to its own national security.

Fraud flooding SA

With hundred of incidents a day in South Africa affecting households, banking institutions and financial houses, let alone those which affect international security and crime and policing matters, Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, has undertaken to finalise a South African National Cybersecurity Policy during the current financial year.

A National Cybersecurity Policy Framework was promised as far back as 2012 in response to a committee set up, tasked with monitoring the implementation of such a policy.  South Africa already has an Electronic Communications Security Computer Security Incident Response Team but this is acknowledge as a “pro tem” arrangement.

Small team of experts

Minister Mahlobo announced that a Cybersecurity Bill would be drafted setting up a
“Cybersecurity Centre sphere” which would “enhance the work of this small team” and the body in terms of the new Bill would become a government agency reporting to his department.

He also announced that a Green Paper expanding on intelligence needs in this area would be tabled in computerSchoolCabinet for approval during the third quarter of 2015/16. With broadband penetration becoming so pervasive in Africa, the 20% of Africa’s citizens now connected to the web are particularly vulnerable, it was noted.

The AU paper on cybersecurity generally describes four cyber-related components specified by the AU convention which should be invested in, namely a national, publicly available cybersecurity policy; cyber public-private partnerships in the national interests communicating with other countries; cybersecurity capacity building and training and a plan for developing a culture of cybersecurity countrywide.

Policy paper then Bill

As stated, the first component is that South Africa should undertake to develop, in collaboration with stakeholders, a national cybersecurity policy… and outline how the objectives of such a policy are to be achieved.   At last this is being dealt with.

Local IT experts have called for the department to adopt measures and a plan to develop capacity building with a view to offering training on all areas of cybersecurity and a clear policy which sets standards for the private sector and developers.
Other articles in this category or as background
Lack of skills hampering broadband rollout – ParlyReportSA
More state powers for ICASA proposed – ParlyReportSA
SAPS still trying to computerise – ParlyReportSA

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Lack of skills hampering broadband rollout

Broadband for SA needs local tech….

computerSchoolThe lack of IT skills in broadband development in government, especially those responsible for implementation of the new broadband policy in SA as well as technicians in the field, has become a major issue of debate in Parliament recently.

The department of telecommunications and postal services (DTPS) has increased it spend in consultancy services by nearly 400% in the last year according to its presentation documents to the relevant parliamentary portfolio committee.

Also, once again the rationale behind the splitting of the department of telecommunications and postal services (DTPS) away from the department of communications (DOC) was queried in Parliament as “not being in line with world trends” causing delays in implementation plans.

DTPS in long terms will benefit

Both these issues were responded to by the responsible minister, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, who was in attendance when DTPS presented their strategic and annual performance plans to the relevant portfolio committee.

Dr Cwele said that he was far happier to leave DOC concentrating on matters surrounding the SABC and migration to digital TV, leaving his department (DTPS) to pursue the objective of uplifting South Africa into the world of broadband.

Broadband will help all

This objective also fitted into the plan to re-model and reassess what was expected from the South African Post Office (SAPO) and for government to decide, like many other countries had done, where postal services fitted in and how to consolidate on the valuable rural outreach of SAPO in respect of other services required by poorer sections of the community.

What was clearly missing during the meeting was, according to parliamentarians, exact timelines for broadband introduction to schools, health services, government departments and state owned utilities, Dr Cwele being quite clear that DTPS had been mandated to ensure that affordable broadband was available.

Staff needed to do the job

Dr Cwele acknowledged, however, that DTPS was greatly under qualified to achieve this due to lack of technical skills and the department did not have enough capacity to deliver on its mandate, as this was a very technical sector of public services. It was too early to commit to timelines but at this stage they had to build the staff complement to do the job, he noted.

He said that DTPS had to bring highly skilled young people into the organisation considering the internet revolution and the growing need for national broadband services. “We need skills not expensive managers”, he added.

Technicians not paper creators

It was explained, in general, broadband refers to telecommunication in which a wide band of frequencies is available to transmit information at greatly increased speed, the installation of which should bring costs down, South Africa having some of the highest communication cost factors in the world.

Ms Rosey Sekese, DG, DTPS, in presenting her strategic plan, said her immediate  priorities were:

• broadband connectivity focused on radio frequency spectrum
• cyber security
• the cost to communicate
• an Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy review
• a national e-strategy
• a turnaround plan for SAPO

The total budget allocation for the Department was R1.4 billion, a reduction from R2 billion in the previous financial year.

Opposition members wanted to know the criteria that DTPS had used to choose Telkom as the leading agency in the rollout of broadband and whether this was fair competition.

Also, they asked why DTPS had emphasised the roll-out of e-governance in the public service to meet NDP targets as first objective. Rather, they said, the focus should have been on business and industry, the ICT sector in the commerce and industry sectors needing this and who played a far greater role in economic development and job creation.

Telkom has to lead in this..

TelkomMinister Cwele responded that the selection of Telkom as the leading agency in the rollout of broadband was as a result of Telkom having the largest terrestrial fibre network and was also based on cost, as this was a state owned entity.

On business and industry needs, he also said DTPS needed to find a way to work with the private sector that could improve economic growth and he, the deputy minister and the DG had been in constant engagement with the private sector as it was realised that this was essential.

The department would also work together with the department of trade and industry and the department of small business development to create incentives for investment in SMMEs, as they realised that many small companies had been marginalised by slow internet services and limited access to the many international IT developments taking place and additional sea cable services.

Creating certainty

He added that he was perfectly aware of the challenges in the finalisation of a spectrum policy to internetcreate a smooth path for the regulators and he was also aware of the need to create certainty in the telecommunications industry. He acknowledged that DTPS was following closely the experiences of the Western Cape and Gauteng broadband rollout plans.

The minister promised that all critical posts within DTPS would be filled within the next three months. However, opposition members continued to draw attention to the question of the general IT skills shortage and said it was yet another “crisis about to happen”.

DA’s Gordon Mackenzie noted “a dramatic increase in outsourced services from R52.5m in 2014 to R230m in 2015” and said this route only added to the high cost of communications in South Africa.

Other articles in this category or as background
Overhaul of broadband policy underway – ParlyReportSA
Parliament gets final dates for digital TV – ParlyReportSA
More state powers for ICASA proposed – ParlyReportSA

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Government communications accused of promoting ANC

Department of communications accused of cloning ANC slogans…..

country wants youThe opposition has complained that the department of communications (DoC) and government communications information services (GCIS) are using ANC party slogans for a DoC communications and PR campaigns, such campaigns costing millions of rands.

The complaint was lodged by Gavin Davis, DA member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications and a DA whip, during a presentation by DoC on progress of setting up the newly reconstituted DOC with new responsibilities and reporting at the same time ion liaison with the similarly, newly re-constituted department of telecommunications & postal services (DTPS).

Brand South Africa had moved from department of public service to DoC, it was reported.   SABC remained with DOC; the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), previously reporting direct to a minister was now with DOC as well, and the Films and Publications Board (FPB) moved from department of home affairs. Also, important was the transfer of the (GCIS) to DoC.

At the same time, parliamentarians were told of the new mandates on matters related to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), some of which were in the area of broadband and telecommunications and therefore had to remain with DPST. 

Hot under the collar

It was in the discussion and questions on the campaigns of Brand SA, using the combined power of this re-organisation together with the communications strategies of GCIS, that most of the questions arose. At various points the meeting became quite heated. on the issue of slogans and party posters.  Present was the deputy minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who could be seen at times to be visibly angry under questioning.

tv flat screenPresented by the DDG of communications, Gift Buthelezi, was a progress report of the national communication strategy, which included details of the processes to be used, media deployed and messages to be conveyed in the communications campaign of Brand SA aimed at the South African public.  The objective was “to increase pride in being a South African”.

Upfront minister

stella abrahamsDeputy minister Ndabeni-Abrahams took it upon herself to answer 95% of the questions asked during question time on the various presentations made, not the director general.   

On a number of occasions the debate reached the level of a public spat, particularly on the questions surrounding statements made in the presentations at the meeting which conflicted with statements made by senior executives of the SABC at different times and on different occasions.

First, shadow minister of communications, Gavin Davis, complained that the line adopted by the DoC campaign for all government departments and media placings, “Together We Move South Africa Forward”, was in fact an ANC slogan and used at the recent ANC conference. He said the DoC was clearly bringing party politics into government spending.

Good news

ANC athen added that the ANC had fielded a successful electoral manifesto to the whole country at the election based on this line and therefore took this as a mandate for government to also adopt this “because obviously this was what the majority wanted. She said DoC had plenty of “good news” to impart.

They (the public) had said so when they voted”, she said, and emphasised that there was nothing “sinister in this”. “Togetherness and pride in South Africa”, she added, were the key neutral expressions being used to shape the campaign, she said.

ANC members argued that pride in South Africa could be encouraged by sports events, regular communications on subjects that affected the ordinary citizen focused on the “good news”, such as cleaning up corruption and government successes.

Gavin Davis (DA) then asked the minister how DoC, as a government department, could possibly involve itself in building up such issues as “pride”. He said that pride in one’s country was a personal issue and it was not the job of a government to manipulate this feeling with what might be described as propaganda.

He also said it was impossible to neither measure such things as “pride” nor manipulate the emotion and called for detail on how this could be achieved with PR campaigns when such issues were governed or frustrated against a background of political and economic facts, which at this time were far from good.

Gupta’s “New Age”

Davis said he was also unsatisfied by the answer given to his question as to why R10m should be spent on the publication New Age for advertising when they only had some 10,000 readers and queried the media spend in general. The answer given was stated by Davis as being “totally undecipherable”.

He also asked for clarification on the statement made by DoC that a 70% quota of what was published and broadcast had to be “localised”, DoC having emphasised local news would be disseminated in future as a priority as distinct from international news. 

sabc news logoMinister Ndabeni-Abrahams said she did not necessarily agree with SABC editorial policy on this issue, the  SABC management being quoted by Davis as having said that SABC will in future broadcast the good news which would be local news”.   The minister said her earlier  statement, and that of DoC, was that  a figure of 70% for local news was the correct one.   Davies then asked if she were prepared to tell the SABC this fact.

At this stage minister refused to answer any more questions on the subject and accused the opposition of being provocative.

Other articles in this category or as background
Overhaul of broadband policy underway – ParlyReportSA
Communications bill awaited setting up consumer body – ParlyReport
More state powers for ICASA proposed – ParlyReportSA

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Air traffic control Bill changes “permissions”

OR tamboBill  penalises false air traffic data…..

The department of transport (DoT) has published the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company Amendment Draft Bill, calling at the same time for public comment.

Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) is the company responsible to the minister of transport as a profit-making government venture which has the mandate to control the management of South Africa’s airspace, air traffic control and organise the management systems necessary to operate such national facilities.

The Bill in question seeks to amend the Air Traffic and M-Navigation Services Company Act so as to “insert new definitions; substitute certain expressions; provide for appeals against the decision of the Committee; and provide for offences.”

Airport facility definitions changed

It is understood that income to run ATNS primarily comes from “permissions” or pre-agreed rates for aircraft to descend and land; use runways; airport facilities aside from charges levied by ACSA; park aircraft; take off; what height to fly and to accept flight plans for data dissemination.

The main subject re-defined by the Bill is the wording of the expression “permissions” i.e. at what rate these are charged, which mainly depend on frequency of use, size of fleet, routes chosen and the amount of input from air traffic control staff needed.

The Bill also deals with penalties that may be imposed, it being an offence to supply false information on intended flight routes, lodge false flight plans and supply any false information which may affect the flow of data needed to control airspace and aircraft movements.

Permission to land

How appeals against rulings on the cost and application of “permissions” is also dealt with. The Bill also seeks to give legal status to an application for a “permission” called an “approach document”, in which ATNS provides guidelines on the information needed from operators when a “permission” is sought.

SA world class

DoT reported to Parliament in its annual budget statement that the budget appropriation for ATNS and its operating profit, though not excessive, had resulted in the use of “state-of-the-art equipment and world-class technology being used and a principle of mid-life updating of the air traffic management system to meet the highest of international standards being applied.”

DoT also reported that VHF radio systems with the latest voice and data capabilities and the installation of the high quality VHF directional finders had been acquired.

The department claimed that ATNS was well known for efficiently managing South Africa’s airspace and had successfully, throughout the years, maintained a record of a zero commercial aircraft accident rate.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/public-utilities/saa-turnaround-plan-involves-flight-changes/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/uncategorized/search-and-rescue-bill-to-set-up-search-centres/

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SA needs 3 languages not 13, CSIR says

New minimal language policy proposed by CSIR

signpostThe Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says that 77% of South Africans can understand each other in three of the main languages. They have, as a result, proposed that a language policy which recommends English, isiZulu and Sepedi as official languages, be adopted. A draft new language policy has been published in the government gazette for public comment which minimalizes ten of South Africa’s current official languages.

The proposal, however, makes it clear that it also recommends that a policy should be adopted for use of information in additional languages in areas where there is “a regional footprint” and “as far as is practical and reasonable” to respond to requests and communications sent in languages other than the official three.

Sepedi

The organisation says the selection of its three official languages was based on “maximum reach through the principle of mutually intelligible languages”. Sepedi is one of many dialects of the Sotho people, known as Northern Sotho or Sesotho sa Leboa, from whence the homeland name of Lebowa was drawn, and is mostly spoken in the Northern Province of South Africa.     Around  3.7 million people in South Africa use it as their home language, it is reported, and Sepedi is the most common language spoken in the heart of the industrial South Africa, which also has largest residential area.

English

Meanwhile, English is the most common language in schoolbooks. It also the most common “lingua franca” of  trading partners in North America, the Australasias, India, and to a great extent in Africa and Europe, all of which are major trading partners of South Africa. All government correspondence in South Africa has now switched to English as first choice, as does business and commerce by default, which fact is probably related to the fact that this is first choice of the JSE and the IT industry worldwide.

Zulu

IsiZulu, also known as Zulu, is understood by people from the Cape to Zimbabwe and reported to be understood by some 10 million persons.   Zulus are part of the Nguni group of people, taking their name from the chief who founded the royal line in the 16th century.   King Shaka raised the tribe to prominence in the early 19th century, from whom the current dynasty is founded. Over 95% of those who speak isiZulu live in South Africa, meaning that 24% of the population can speak this language, dwarfing other languages except English.

Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa, rated as understood by 24% of the population, with about 10 million speakers – the vast majority of whom live in South Africa.

Not included

Notable is the fact that both Afrikaans (the language of the political base prior to 1994 and the cause of outbreaks of violence when the language was named as first choice for schools throughout South Africa) and Xhosa (the language of the political base after 1994), are not included.

Neither is Tswana mentioned, one of current eleven official languages in South Africa, which is spoken by a larger number of people actually living in South Africa and not in Botswana, the home of the language. Other articles in this category or as background http://parlyreportsa.co.za/trade-industry/nema-waste-ask-parliamentarians/

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More state powers for ICASA proposed

ICASA to get policing role

Parliament has met to consider a proposal to convert the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the regulator of the communications world, into an industry “watchdog”  in order to ensure adherence to government policy. The portfolio committee on communications is currently considering a mandate to bring forward a proposal for ICASA to become an Institution Supporting Democracy (ISD).   In terms of section 181(1) of the Constitution of South Africa there is provision for the establishment of ISDs in order “to strengthen constitutional democracy”. In debate, the committee indicated examples of such institutions as the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Public Protector, the Public Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality in this category.

Committee upset

Failure of the CEO of ICASA, former Vodacom executive, Pakamile Pongwana, to arrive for the parliamentary meeting in question considerably upset MPs.     Pongwana,  previously a deputy DG for telecommunications policy in the previous department of communications, was heavily criticized for his absence, with  MPs commenting that he “should know the ropes and be here “.   Chair, Joyce Moloi-Moropa  said in her view “the situation was unacceptable. What could be  more important to a CEO than the future of his institution?”, she asked. In debating the issue, ANC parliamentarians felt that the move would have the effecting of upgrading the role of the institution from one of a communications regulator to an entity that could become a ‘watchdog’ in order to ensure that the communications sector in general adhered to the “principal pillars of South Africa’s democracy.” Opposition members, however,  noted with concern that the proposals could enable “a dispensation where government through ICASA would have increasing control over the entire communications sector ranging from telecoms, radio, to TV and even print media”.

All too powerful

The possible change in the status of ICASA follows the decision of President Zuma upon the commencement of his new government to split the communications  portfolio between the previous broader department of communications and a new telecommunications and postal services department appointed with a separate minister. Stakeholders in the industry have complained in the media that such a move could have serious repercussions for  business and the investment climate, since  general uncertainty would be the result of granting too much power to a state entity at the expense of the private sector, bearing in mind that state utilities controlled many factors in  the industry. Following this  initial parliamentary debate, an amendment to the anchor legislation, the ICASA Act would be the next step, say commentators.   This would involve the normal process of public hearings and deliberations thus providing an opportunity for concerned parties and stakeholders to make input and comment. Other articles in this category http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/communications-bill-sets-up-consumer-body/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/parliament-gets-final-dates-digital-tv/

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South Africa DTT process

Parliament gets final dates for digital TV

Digital TV set top box makers get timing...

set top box (indian)

set top box (indian)

Parliament has been told that the new date for a switch over, or “migration”, to digital TV will happen by the middle of 2015 – meaning that there is now extra time provided to start the manufacture of the necessary set-top boxes to enable households to receive the digital signal on analogue TV sets.     New telecommunications and postal services minister, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, was addressing the joint committee on communications, telecommunications and postal services on their joint budget vote.

Encryption argument settled

Minister Cwele told parliamentarians that the problematic area of the digital signal encryption had now been resolved after Parliament had approved the new Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) policy, allowing broadcasters to decide for themselves whether they want to use the encryption process or not.

He commented that the use of set top box (STB) controls for the encryption had caused major disagreements between MultiChoice and e-TV but this had been finally resolved by the previous minister communications, Yunus  Carrim, who suggested that  government subsidised STBs, with poorer households in mind, would only make more use of control mechanisms, hence the new BDM policy.

Cwele said the launch of digital TV in South Africa had overcome many problems and that the final BDM policy, as agreed, would now be officially published by the end of July, thus giving the go-ahead for the process to start and the manufacture of STBs to commence.   A new switch-on date is to be announced within three months, he said.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/set-top-box-system-overhauled/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/communication-bills-tabled-in-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/overhaul-of-communications-and-broadband-policy-underway/

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Set top box system to be overhauled

Communications dept. to revise controls on set top box system

TVsetsA proposed amendment referring specifically to the use of a control system for set top box supply (STBs) under the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy in terms of the Electronic Communications Act (2005) has been published for public comment.

The amendment, the notice said, followed an extensive review of the system and consultations with stakeholders.

The notice said, “Although control systems will not be mandatory in order to avoid differences between broadcasters and manufacturers, certain STBs will use a control system to protect government’s investment in the local electronics industry and the subsidised STB market.”

“The policy amendment also establishes that costs will be recovered from subscription broadcasters that choose to make use of the STB control system in the future.”

The notice went on, “The amendment states that the switch-on of the digital television signal will take place by 1 April 2014 and the switch-off of the analogue terrestrial signal will be determined at a later date by the Minister of Communications after engaging with cabinet and relevant stakeholders.”

“According to the amendment the national broadcasting digital signal coverage shall cover 84 percent of the population by March 2014 and areas that may be deemed difficult or uneconomical to reach will be covered by a specified satellite system.”

The written comment period has expired and the ministers final decisions on the matter are awaited.

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Communication Bills tabled in Parliament

Cleaning up on communications….

Following their cabinet approval two communication Bills have now been tabled in Parliament; firstly, the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill and secondly, the Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Amendment Bill.

The first named, Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, is very much a regulatory Bill, the background stating that the proposed legislation was “in line with the liberalisation process of the electronic communications sector and rapid technological advancements which have rendered some of the Act’s provisions redundant.”

Needed overhaul

It says, “Because it was the first such law, over time it has become obvious that certain provisions are not capable of implementation in the way that was intended or do not have the intended effect when applied. There are also areas of ambiguity and vagueness which hamper efficient and effective regulation.”

The Bill deals with competition, promotion and limitation; access to electronic communications infrastructure; communication costs; as well as “improving turnaround time for consultative processes”. It also proposes “to incorporate the authority’s recommendation on ownership and control of commercial broadcasting services.”

The document says the Bill is aligned with broad-based black economic empowerment legislation; refines licensing issues and wishes to improve competition provisions and remove regulatory bottlenecks.

ICASA Bill follows NDP

The second Bill, the ICASA Amendment Bill, is focused, it says, on the National Development Plan; clarifies some of the powers and duties of ICASA; lines up with the Public Finance Management Act and focuses on institutional improvements to strengthen the financial and administrative independence of the authority.

Importantly, the legality of networks and services for electronic transactions is confirmed. Also, “mechanisms”, the background to the Bill says, are proposed to ensure accountability of ICASA staff and its councillors.

Finally, a full commission is proposed to handle complaints as distinct from the current ICASA complaints committee.

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